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Derek Kneeland Thankful For Easter Bunny 150 Opportunity with Mike Bryant Racing

NASCAR spotter Derek Kneeland will be getting behind the wheel in Friday's Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway, which was made possible by Mike Bryant Racing offering him a ride for this race, and several other short track races in 2024.


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Derek Kneeland, the spotter for Kyle Busch in the NASCAR Cup Series as well as Austin Hill and Nick Sanchez in the NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Truck Series ranks, is going back to his roots on Friday in the St. Patrick's Day 150.

Kneeland, who had aspirations of making it to NASCAR as a racecar driver until funding shriveled up in his teenage years, will participate in the opening night of the two-night Pro All Stars Series Easter Bunny 150 race weekend at Hickory Motor Speedway (available on Pay-Per-View on Racing America) before taking off to Bristol Motor Speedway to spot for his NASCAR drivers throughout the weekend.

"It does stink that I can only do the one night," Kneeland said in an interview with Racing America. "But one's better than none."

While he'd rather run both nights of racing at Hickory, Kneeland has nothing to complain about.

Kneeland, who typically drives his own equipment when he races, will pilot the No. 90 Mike Bryant Racing super late model at Hickory, a deal which has allowed Kneeland to expand his personal racing schedule in 2024.

Kneeland says he was taken aback when the opportunity to drive for Bryant came to pass roughly two months ago.

"Mike has known my dad for a long time. They basically grew up together. My phone rang one day and Mike had sponsored me for the last handful of years, so I thought it was just something about that," Kneeland said. "And when he called, he basically just said, 'Are you interested in driving my other car in a partial schedule?' And I was kind of dumbfounded because I've never been asked to drive anybody's stuff except for like go karts back in the day. So, I absolutely said yes. He dropped the car off like the next week at my shop and I've been getting that thing ready ever since for Hickory."

While Kneeland hails from Maine, he has some prior experience at the historical 0.363-mile North Carolina short track. He ran the Easter Bunny 150 weekend events at the facility during the 2021 season, where he finished 10th and 13th respectively. He'll look to improve on those results this time around.

Kneeland says that he appreciates the history attached to Hickory Motor Speedway, and he loves that the track produces side-by-side racing along with tire falloff, which creates comers and goers throughout the entire race. Overall, he's just thankful he has the chance to run the race on Friday.

Had it not been for Byrant asking him to run his No. 90 machine, Kneeland would have had to sit out the Easter Bunny 150 as his own race car wasn't going to be ready in time to race.

"Hickory is probably one of my favorite places that I've driven so far. Originally, I wasn't even supposed to run this one because my new car wasn't gonna be done in enough time. Obviously, this deal happened with Mike and that was the first race that we decided to do."

In all, Kneeland, who typically runs a couple of races per year in his own equipment, will run eight to 10 races combined between Mike Bryant Racing and Derek Kneeland Racing this year. It's a big step up, but one that was afforded thanks to the call from Byrant, an additional off weekend for NASCAR teams due to the Olympics break, and favorable mid-week scheduling for some short track events he was hoping to run.

"Any time I can strap into a seat and race is awesome," Kneeland said. "You know, and my schedule this year is gonna be double or triple what I'm used to doing. I'm super excited."

According to a schedule that Kneeland shared to his profile on X, his next scheduled start will be at Hickory Motor Speedway on May 23 in the Hickory 200 ASA event.

Additionally, Kneeland will run at Berlin Raceway on June 12, Lee Speedway on June 21, Oxford Speedway on July 2 and 3, Lee Speedway on July 26, Oxford Speedway on August 4, Berling Raceway on August 7, and he also hopes to run the Oxford 250 on August 25 and the Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway.

It's going to be a busy schedule for the man, who is already on the road 38 weekends out of the year for his NASCAR obligations, but it's a challenge that Kneeland is up for. At the end of the day, racing is his passion, and he's just happy to do more of it this year.

While he hopes to have great runs all season long, Kneeland is focused on the task at hand -- Friday's St. Patrick's Day 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway. Kneeland is excited to check out some of the recent renovations that the facility has undergone, and at the end of the night, he hopes to have a solid finish to kick off his new partnership with Mike Bryant Racing.

For those looking to watch the 2024 Easter Bunny 150 race weekend, it is available as a Pay-Per-View broadcast on RacingAmerica.tv. The weekend (Friday and Saturday) All-Access PPV pass is $39.99. Racing America subscribers can save $10 off of the All-Access PPV pass with an exclusive discount code, which is sent via email.

To become a Racing America subscriber, click here.

Photo Credit: Koty Geyer, Racing America

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Watch the Easter Bunny 150at Hickory on March 16

Mar 16, 2024