Darlington, SC (May 12,2001) Cam Strader went to the Darlington Speedway for the first time in his career and shattered the Dash Series qualifying record. The 2000 NASCAR Goody's Dash Series rookie of the year sped around Darlington's...
Darlington, SC (May 12,2001) Cam Strader went to the Darlington Speedway for the first time in his career and shattered the Dash Series qualifying record.
The 2000 NASCAR Goody's Dash Series rookie of the year sped around Darlington's 1.366-mile oval at 150.740 miles per hour, nearly two miles per hour faster than outside pole-sitter Justin Hobgood (148.836).
Strader tested at the track a few months ago and said that the test session helped him in qualifying. "It was a different car and different motor but at least it gave me a chance to run 30-40 laps on the car," Strader said. "It gave me an idea of what to expect when we came back for the race."
The Series made its first appearance at Darlington since August 31, 1984. Then called the Darlington Dash Series, Mike Swaim Sr. won the pole and the race.
Strader said the mood among other competitors when the word came the series was returning to Darlington was a little apprehensive. "I think some of the guys were nervous because of all the horror stories they've heard about this place," he said.
"I'm planning to move up to the Busch Series and I need to get the experience now. I'm really glad to see that NASCAR is sending this Goody's Dash Series to some of these bigger speedways."
Strader's pole winning run was the first for a Mercury since David Pearson won the pole in the Woods Brother's Mercury Cyclone in 1976.
At the start of the event, Strader quickly jumped out to a ten-car length lead over second place Justin Hobgood. After a few laps the leaders made a four car break-a-way.
Strader was in command in his Wesson/Peter Pan Mercury Cougar, and dominated the first three-quarters of the race.
The first of four cautions came out when "Doc" Brewer spun in turn four and collected Zach Brewer.
The other three cautions were brought out for single car accidents that resulted in a total of 14 caution laps for the event.
On the final restart, Strader jumped out to another five car length lead over Shane Hmiel. As Strader's tires began to fade, Hmiel made his move to the inside of Strader in turn four bringing the crowd to their feet, but the Strader machine pulled ahead on the front-stretch.
Strader's car began to get loose and the 21-year Wilson, NC native almost spun his machine in turn four on lap 65.
Hmiel was there to capitalize on Strader's misfortune and motored by on the outside in turn four to take the lead. "My car would get loose at the end of long runs," said Strader. "Shane had the strongest race car today and I congratulate him. I just really wanted to give Wesson and Peter Pan another win, and Mercury their first win here since 1977."
Strader's second place finish gave him enough points to take the lead in the Series points standings.