This past weekend, Renee made her first start of the 2011 season at the famed Hickory Motor Speedway (Conover, NC). The Hickory race was Renee’s first ever NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour start – and marked the first ever WSMT start for a woman in the Series history.

Renee runs some laps at the famed Hickory Motor Speedway in the Ed Bennett fielded No. 59. Photo courtesy of The Third Turn -


Along with the other teams in attendance, the day began with two 30-minute rounds of practice.

“We unloaded a real good car,” offered Renee. “We made just a right rear shock change and played with stagger – and on stickers we posted competitive times. I thought that was pretty cool because neither Ed nor I had ever even seen the place.”

Next up was qualifying – where Renee posted the 7th fastest time of the day. Following qualifying, the WSMT teams lined up on the front stretch and participated in a well-attended autograph session.

At approximated 8 PM the green flag fell on the 150-lap feature. A lap-by-lap rundown, as appeared on Speed 51, can be found here. Also, a You Tube video showing of much of the first 100 laps can be found below.

“We knew going in that Hickory eats rubber. So, most importantly, we approached the race in a conserve tire mode.” The plan played out well – with Dupuis easily moving back and forth within the top-10. “The inside, the outside – it didn’t matter. The car was just flawless. When we found ourselves around cars we didn’t want to run with, we could pass whoever we wanted whenever we wanted. But honestly, we were pretty much just riding, saving the car.”

The plan went awry on a lap 100 restart, when running in the 6th spot (she was actually 4th when the caution waved, but when NASCAR went back to the last completed lap she was put in 6th), Renee was turned from behind by the number 7 car (Thomas Stinson). Several other cars were collected in the incident and damaged was sustained to the right-side of her car.

“When we went back out the right-side bar was mangled. When the car would roll into the turns, the bar would drag so badly that it wouldn’t allow the suspension to travel. It was a handful.”

Despite the wounded car, Renee worked her way back into the top-10 – running in the eighth spot (bookended by the Myers brothers made ‘famous’ on the History channel’s Madhouse) for a green-white-checker restart. “I was able to keep it on the outside of Burt – but coming to the checkered he planted me in the backstretch wall. There’s no history there, but apparently he felt the only way to beat us was to try and take us out. We’ll keep that in mind for next time.”

In the final rundown, the No. 59 car held on for a ninth place finish.

“The finish is clearly not indicative of the day we had,” explained Renee. “As a driver, you clearly remember occasions when you have a real standout car – and this was absolutely one of those deals. I feel genuinely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Ed and to run his car. I think our guys (dad, Donnie, Mike and David) worked well with him and Carol (team spotter) was like the icing on the cake by being just perfect on the radio. While we’re all obviously disappointed in the finish, it provides a measure of satisfaction in knowing they all knew we were there…”

Looking forward, the combination NASCAR WMT/WSMT race scheduled for September 11 at Connecticut’s Thompson International Speedway is on Renee’s schedule. But following the Hickory race, she expressed an interest in running additional WSMT events. We’ll keep you posted here on any plans that develop.