ELKIN — Local dirt-track drivers Tony and Benji Hicks finished second and third in this weekend’s Crate Late Model race at Friendship Speedway.
This was just the latest top-five finish for the father and son from Mount Airy.
Benji, a former all-conference lineman for the Granite Bears football team, has been racing hard since graduation in 2013. His car number is 55, the same as his old jersey number.
He currently is third in the season points standings at Friendship.
He also has raced in events that counted toward the South Eastern Crate Association standings and is currently 11th on the SECA charts.
Dad Tony is fifth in Friendship’s standings and 20th in the SECA standings.
This past weekend, Tony said his car was running well, and he started on the pole. On the start as he stamped down on the gas, however, the engine flubbed for a second before kicking in, allowing Chris Cheek’s #99 car to get in front of him.
Later on a restart, Tony again hit the gas, only to see the car stutter before shooting forward. That allowed Benji to get the edge on his dad.
It was like the carburetor was getting too much fuel, like the jets were too big, Tony said. Once the car got going, she ran great, he added.
Benji said his car was really great in practice and let him qualify third. It was a little loose entering the curves, but that really only affected him on one curve.
He and Cheek were battling for the lead, and Benji went into the curve a little hot and slid up the track. That gave Cheek a cushion, and Benji wasn’t able to get back into position for a pass.
There have been other races where the father and son were paired together at the finish, going sixth and seventh or fifth and sixth, said Benji. But this is their best two finishes of the season.
“Both teams have picked up their programs,” he said. They have been working hard on the cars in their new race shop behind T&K Enterprises off Lebanon Street.
Benji said he finished fourth in the Friendship points standing last year and missed a couple of races.
He was as high as second this season until he missed two races when his grandmother became ill and then passed away.
That caused him to drop to fifth or sixth position, but the 20-year-old now has climbed back to third.
On June 13, he finished fifth. On June 20, he was second. On July 4, he was fourth, so this past weekend made it four consecutive weeks he has finished in the top five.
It is nice to be recognized for points, but drivers race to win, said Benji, and he hasn’t quite gotten there yet. He said he feels like he has some big shoes to fill as a Hicks, with the years of success that his dad and his uncles Billy and Mark have had in racing.
In five years, Benji said he would love to be racing in a bigger series, but if he is still working in the crate series, that wouldn’t be so bad. And, he added, he would only be 25 years old, so he would still have plenty of racing left in him.
1 Chris Cheek #99c 419
2 Justin Hudspeth #27H 343
3 Benji Hicks #55 340
4 Chase McCormick #15 337
5 Tony Hicks #21 336
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.