Dexter Canipe Jr. is more confident than ever about his chances of winning in Hickory Motor Speedway’s biggest race of the season in the 100 lap Bobby Isaac Memorial.
Canipe, 36, from Claremont, North Carolina, is the son of 1998 Hickory track champion Dexter Canipe Sr. The younger Canipe has won 107 times at Hickory Motor Speedway, but he has never won in the Late Model Stock Car portion of the Bobby Isaac Memorial.
This season, Canipe is one of the favorites to win the race – a race that every Hickory Motor Speedway driver hopes to win.
“I want to win it because my dad’s won it,” Canipe said. “I’ve won seven races this year and being the dominant car week in and week out and leading the points, I just want to show everybody this is our house. Winning is a big deal. My dad’s won it but I’ve never won it.”
Canipe enters the race fresh off a pair of wins on August 27th and is leading the points in both the track championship standings at Hickory as well as the track’s “Big 10 Challenge” series. The success the veteran racer has enjoyed this year has given him plenty of confidence heading into Saturday night’s race.
“I’m not trying to be cocky,” Canipe said. “We’ve had a good car all year long. I feel like we are the favorite. This is probably my best shot to win this race.”
While Hickory has seen a decline in car count the past two seasons following the formation of the CARS Late Model Stock Tour, there is still plenty of tough competition at the legendary track – including former champions Josh Berry, Matt Piercy and Austin McDaniel.
Canipe’s toughest competition this season, however, has been rookie Ryan Millington. Despite being in a championship battle, Canipe has already gained respect for the 15-year-old rookie out of Statesville, North Carolina.
“Ryan Millington is not a slouch,” Canipe explained. “He can drive a racecar. He’s going be good. Me and him are probably the favorites to win this race. The way he ran last week, our car was off a little bit and he ran me super clean last week. I think he’s one of the favorites. He can go on long runs.”
One driver that will be missing from the 40th Bobby Isaac Memorial on Saturday is Josh Berry. Berry, who drives for JR Motorsports, has been dominant at Hickory in recent years as well as in the CARS Late Model Stock Tour where he has scored six career wins.
“Berry kicks everyone’s butt at Hickory,” Canipe said. “I base our performance off of if we can beat Josh Berry. In qualifying, we sat on 13-14 poles so I feel like our car is good. We just have to get it better during the race. We’ve kept up with Josh Berry. The first race Ryan Millington won, me and Berry raced our hearts out and I finished second while he finished third.”
Canipe has been racing, predominantly at Hickory, since 1999. A lower budget driver, Canipe does not often travel to other races but, when he does, he’s a potential frontrunner. In 2011, Canipe scored a top-five finish in the Valley Star Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway, Late Model Stock Car racing’s biggest race.
This season, Canipe won’t make the trip to Martinsville. Instead, when the regular season ends, he will focus his attention to Hickory’s Fall Brawl in October and Myrtle Beach Speedweeks while also remaining active as a parent and role model.
“I’ve been really busy this year. I’ve got my own detailing business this year, I coach my son’s football and baseball team. I don’t want to travel because I’m busy with work and family activities.”