DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 16, 1998) Joe Buford, of Franklin, Tenn., continues his family's tradition of racing at Nashville (Tenn.) Speedway USA by winning the NASCAR Winston Racing Series Heartland Region championship. Buford, 31,...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 16, 1998)
Joe Buford, of Franklin, Tenn., continues his family's tradition of racing at Nashville (Tenn.) Speedway USA by winning the NASCAR Winston Racing Series Heartland Region championship. Buford, 31, wins $39,500 and will be recognized at the Opryland Hotel during the NASCAR Winston Racing Series national champions' banquet on Friday, Nov. 6.
"I don't think winning the championship has sunk in yet," said Buford. "It's really special to win the regional championship, and for a father and son to both win track championships at Nashville makes it even more special."
His father, James "Flookie" Buford was a two-time Nashville Speedway USA track champion in 1971 and 1972 before he retired from driving in 1975. His mother, Lillie, raced the track's Powder Puff division.
"When my dad was racing I used to think it was easy," said Buford. "Then I got in the car and found it wasn't easy at all."
After his first couple of years racing at a nearby dirt track, Buford went to Nashville to price a new dirt track car. But before the purchase was made the elder Buford again stepped in with his racing experience.
"What do you really want to do with your racing career?" his father asked.
"That's when I decided that if I was ever going to go anywhere I had to race at Nashville," said the younger Buford.
In his first year competing at Nashville Speedway USA in 1991, Buford won three races and Rookie of the Year, and finished third in the track's Limited Late Model division. It also was the first time he raced on a paved surface.
"I didn't know how to run asphalt so I slid around a lot at first," said Buford. "But the experience I gained on dirt helped me a lot when I did figure it out."
The experience paid off. Buford has consistently improved his racing success at Nashville Speedway USA, advancing to the Late Model Stock Car division and improving his performance each year.
Buford, however, had yet another lesson to learn. A lesson that one of the track's top competitors had already learned.
It turned out to be a lesson well learned. In 1994 Buford finished second to Andy Kirby in the track championship by 16 points. In 1997 Kirby again won the track championship and the Heartland Region championship.
"I was a really aggressive driver," said Buford. "In 1996 and 1997 we tried to win three championships in one year (the Nashville Speedway track championship, and the regional and national NASCAR Winston Racing Series championships). This year our attitude has changed to finish every race. It's worked. And I've got to thank my mom, dad, girlfriend and the whole crew."
The lesson has paid impressive dividends with the satisfaction and recognition of winning the Heartland Region championship, and $39,500 prize that goes with it.
Nashville Speedway USA has a reputation for producing great drivers. The combination of speed, large fields of competitive teams and drivers, and ever changing track conditions is a recipe for champions. Well-known NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers who competed at Nashville Speedway USA include Darrell Waltrip, Sterling Marlin, Bobby Hamilton, Jeff Green and Jeremy Mayfield. Joe Buford and his team are the track's latest product.
"All the guys on the crew deserve the recognition," said Buford. "Without them I wouldn't be able to win the championship. We learned patience, and our attitude has been to refuse to lose. They didn't give up on me and I didn't give up on them."
Source: NASCAR Online