Huffman wins a wild one in Bristol; receives penalty in post-race ruling; Ward and Milton earn top-10 finishes. BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 22, 2002) - In a race reminiscent of Bristol Motor Speedway's legendary NASCAR Winston Cup races, Robert Huffman...
Huffman wins a wild one in Bristol; receives penalty in post-race ruling; Ward and Milton earn top-10 finishes.
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Aug. 22, 2002) - In a race reminiscent of Bristol Motor Speedway's legendary NASCAR Winston Cup races, Robert Huffman survived a two late-race crashes to win the NASCAR Goody's Dash Pabst Blue Ribbon 150 late Wednesday night, Aug. 21. After a post-race ruling gave him a time penalty, Huffman officially finished in ninth place.
"I didn't come to Bristol to wreck anybody, but we did come here to win," said Huffman, the Claremont, N.C., native who also earned the Bud Pole Award for the fourth time this season. "The White House Apple Juice Celica ran awesome all night long. The fastest car definitely won."
Huffman started from the pole position and led nearly all of the first half of the race before making a pit stop on lap 76. The four-time NASCAR Goody's Dash Series champion quickly worked his way back up to the top five during the crash-filled event, which included eight yellow flags and a late-race red flag to stop the race. After tangling with Johnny Chapman late in the race in a battle for second place, Huffman and Jake Hobgood battled each other for the lead during the last 10 laps. The pair's last-lap entanglement reminded many spectators of the historic late-race battles at Bristol that included Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace, among others.
"I committed to the inside on the last turn, like you have to in this series, Huffman commented. "I was just making a run for the win, and unfortunately we got together."
Huffman's ninth-place finish keeps him in second place overall in the championship with two races remaining on the schedule. The short-lived victory would have been his 39 career win, second most in Goody's Dash Series history.
Top Toyota-powered rookies Brandon Ward and Reece Milton both ran great races to earn their top finishes of the 2002 season. Ward, Winston-Salem, N.C., was the defending race champion although he was still a rookie while having only run a limited schedule last season. He qualified ninth and ran in the top five most of the race. Ward was involved in a last-lap crash but finished third.
"The Ram Fabrication Celica ran great all night!" Ward said. "I have to thank all the people at TRD who've helped us make the move to the Toyota this year."
A local racer from Blountville, Tenn., Milton gave a large contingent of family and friends the thrill of a career-best seventh-place finish in only his sixth Goody's Dash race. He qualified the No. 75 Phil Bachman Toyota/Ferguson Enterprises Celica in 19th place in his first-ever race at the high-banked 0.533-mile oval. Milton deftly drove around a number of crashes that occurred in front of him, and he raced in the top 10 over the last half of the race.
Another rookie-of-the-year contender, Nick Pistone, qualifyied the No. 77 BI-LO Toyota Celica in 16th place but had to retire early in the race due to mechanical problems.
Toyota made its debut in the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series at the Daytona International Speedway in 2000. Robert Huffman's victory at Kentucky Speedway last season in the Toyota Celica was the first for an overhead-cam, multi-valve engine in NASCAR history. The 27-year-old series is part of the NASCAR ladder system, designed to help promote and develop driver's skills at tracks as varied as Daytona, Charlotte and Bristol. Originally called "Baby Grands," Goody's Dash cars resemble a scaled-down version of a Winston Cup stock car, and each is equipped with a V6 powerplant. Series alumni include Michael Waltrip, Davey Allison, Robert Pressley, Hut Stricklin, Andy Houston and Shawna Robinson.