Up And Comers Finding Early Success At Hickory

HICKORY, N.C. — It is early in the 2023 racing season at Hickory Motor Speedway, but so far, a small group of young, talented drivers is getting much of the attention in the track’s NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series late model stock division. 

20-year-old Vicente Salas, a former kart racer from Temecula, California who competes in the NASCAR Coca-Cola ESport Championship Series for Elliott Sadler ESports, had a second and a win last week in only his second and third late model starts.  

Salas was involved in a multi-car incident on opening night and missed week two because of it, so his performance in the Justin Carroll Racing No. 55 was highly impressive. 

Denver, North Carolina’s Kade Brown, 16, races for Matt Piercy Racing in the No. 23.  Brown won the 2022 Florence (S.C.) Motor Speedway Track Championship.  

Brown was last week’s winner in race one, and he’s had two second-place runs on opening night behind Doug Barnes. 

Michael Bumgarner, a third-generation racer from Taylorsville, N.C. who is the 2022 Hickory limited late model champion, had a strong 8th place finish in race one last week before leading 39.75 laps in race two – Salas beat him to the line for the win. 

Bumgarner is a quick-adapter whose performance has gotten better each week as they’ve dialed in the car for the stock series.  It is the same car he won the championship with in limited last year. 

Landon S. Huffman lives just West of Hickory, and is the son of renowned crew chief Shane Huffman.  At age 16, in his second time in a late model stock driving for PMG Motorsports, Landon drove a flawless race to get to victory lane. 

These are just four of the rising stars that will be contending for the 2023 Hickory Track Championship.  There are others. Drivers like “the other” Landon Huffman (The Claremont Kid) In the No. 75 and Skylar “Rambo” Chaney in the beautiful blue No. 17 have had some hiccups early, but with the “playoff” format the track debuted last year where your best 8 races count, there is still plenty of time for them to turn their season around.  

The track hosts another weekend of raing this Saturday, April 1st.  Which of these young racers will find victory lane this week?  Will someone else have the magic? 

Steering Wheel Nation will be on hand to keep you updated on what’s happening, and you can watch the action on FloRacing.com if you cannot attend.