Meghan Dillner had been knocking on the door this season for her first Pro Challenge Series victory of her career. Dillner had scored two-straight, second-place finishes in the National Point events so far in 2009 and was a favorite going into Saturday’s North Region National Point race at Hickory Motor Speedway, but few outside of Dillner’s BDI Racing camp expected the kind of dominance that she put together at HMS. Dillner qualified on the pole and led every lap in dominating fashion, despite constant pressure from various challengers, to put her first mark in the win column in a Pro Challenge event.
“We’ve raced several times here before, but it’s incredible to win here because I love this track,” said Dillner. “I had two different cars behind me that were pretty quick. I had to battle with them all race long, but hey, that’s racing and honestly, it made the race more fun,” said Dillner.
Dillner had to hold off hard-charging Montana native, John Hilliker for the race win.
“It’s my first time in the Pro Challenge,” said Hilliker. “I wanted to get some semi-stock car experience since I’ve been racing Legends for about four and a half years now. I’m renting this car from Curt Andrews at Andrews Motorsports. It was a fun car, really set up well. It needed a few adjustments, but that’s for next race. I’m going to get back in it and run it for the next few races.”
Hilliker was the second driver in the 30-lap feature to put the pressure on Dillner up front. Stephen Bergh Jr. qualified on the outside pole and tucked in behind the 15-year-old Dillner at the start, but quickly began putting the pressure on Dillner. After several attempts at the lead, Bergh spun out of second in a battle with Dillner, allowing Hilliker a chance to catch the lady racer. Hilliker put the pressure on Dillner throughout several restarts, but was unable to make the pass.
“When you get going, you hate to see those cautions because once you get back going, for the first two laps you have to get your rhythm back,” added Dillner. “It was frustrating, but I really had to work for it tonight. It was cool to be able to hold the pack off on all those restarts. Eventually I got the hang of it because of all the cautions. It was difficult, but once I got it, it really paid off.”
Dillner, who is running for the National Points Championship could not have had a more picturesque race for her points’ run.
“It was a perfect night. Our whole goal for this year in Pro Challenge is to go after that National Points Championship, so this is definitely a step in the right direction. I’m really hoping that this puts us in the point lead tonight. Hopefully I’ll be able to get another couple of wins this year and win that championship. I had two second-place finishes under my belt, and then tonight we won the pole and led every lap. That’s the best you can do for National Points.”
Dillner was followed to the checkered flag by Hilliker, Kyle Benjamin, Bergh and Trevor Edwards.
The next Pro Challenge North Region event comes on Wednesday, July 1st, at the quarter-mile track at Concord Speedway in North Carolina. The final regular-season National Point event for the North Region comes on Saturday, August 8th, at Orange County Speedway (NC).