One event, an abbreviated one at that, was all David Hill needed to see to know he found the driver he wants in his family’s Hillbilly Racing NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour car.
Now it’s a matter of finding out if Jon McKennedy wants the ride. Daniel Hemric, who ran the first two events of the season for Hillbilly Racing, quit the team following the Tech-Net Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 29.
McKennedy, of Chelmsford, Mass. made his debut for the Westfield, N.C. based Hillbilly Racing team Saturday at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. McKennedy qualified fourth before a nasty crash with 50 laps left relegated him to a 23rd place finish.
“I was really impressed with Jon,” Hill said. “We rolled out with a brand new car and we qualified fourth. We ran over something on the track and started losing rear brakes. Then Bryon Chew just fenced us at the flag stand and it broke the right front assembly. It was just one of them racing things. We couldn’t buy no luck. But we probably had a top-five car before that.”
Hill said McKennedy has agreed to run his car this weekend in an event at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway and he will also run at the next two Whelen Modified Tour events, on May 25 at Stafford and June 23 at the Waterford Speedbowl.
McKennedy is also running fulltime for Preston team owner Art Barry on the Valenti Modified Racing Series. He has won the first two events this season on the Modified Racing Series. The division competes for the third time this season Sunday at Thompson International Speedway. McKennedy also runs regularly with the International SuperModified Association.
“It’s basically we’re going to see where his schedule is at [after the Modified Tour event at Waterford on June 23], Hill said. “It’s kind of up to him. He’s got to talk to Art about what he wants to do. He’s trying to do all the right things and not step on anybody’s toes.
“He’s got a whole lot to decide with on what he really wants to focus on. He could probably drive my car for the remainder of the year. The MRS races don’t conflict, but the SuperModifieds conflict with our Tour. He’s got to decide what he really wants to so and where his focus is going to be.”
McKennedy said he isn’t ready to make any decisions yet.
“This year I seem to be pretty fortunate with multiple ride offers,” McKennedy said. “I guess that’s always a good thing. Ultimately, come the beginning of July I’m going to have some decisions to make.”
Hemric, of Kannapolis, N.C., made his Whelen Modified Tour debut Hillbilly Racing in the division’s season finale least year at Thompson. He finished 20th in the season opener this year at Thompson and was 11th at Stafford on April 29 before quitting.
“He came in and said he didn’t want to drive Modified’s no more,” Hill said. “He just said Modifieds weren’t going to take him to the next level. He’s dreaming big. I guess that’s his choice.”
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