Strader's Third Place Finish Brings NASCAR Championship One Step Closer LAKELAND, FLA. (October 20, 2001) - Wilson, NC native Cam Strader is poised to win his first ever NASCAR Championship. The NASCAR Goody's Dash Series touring division ...
Strader's Third Place Finish Brings NASCAR Championship One Step Closer
LAKELAND, FLA. (October 20, 2001) - Wilson, NC native Cam Strader is poised to win his first ever NASCAR Championship.
The NASCAR Goody's Dash Series touring division traveled to the beautiful USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Florida last weekend for the next to last stop in the 2001 Series schedule.
Cam Strader and his crew knew they needed to have a good finish in the event to protect their 150-point lead. "We are going to run this race like we have for the last 16 races. That's what the employees at Wesson and Peter Pan expect us to do," said a confident Strader. "If Lee-Roy(car's nickname) is good enough to go to the front, that's where I'm going to take him. We've raced our guts out all year, and that racing style just seems to work best for us. I feel somewhat comfortable with the point's lead we have, but I'm going out there to win tonight and the point's deal will take care of itself."
The Hobgood brothers from Winnsboro, South Carolina, took control of the front row in qualifying for the Goody's Dash Series NASCAR Touring Discount Auto Parts "150" presented by Mobil 1. The older of the two brothers, Jake Hobgood, grabbed the Bud Pole with a time of 22.296 seconds (121.098 mph). All that would change, as the pre-race shuffle dropped Jake to the eighth starting position. Justin was fortunate enough to draw the same position he earned in qualifying. MAG-KLIP Rookie of the Year contender, Shane Hmiel drew the lucky number one starting spot. Strader qualified his machine in the fifth spot.On the first lap, Justin Hobgood jumped out front entering turn three and dominated the first 71 circuits of the 150-lap event. For Justin and Robert Huffman there was a lot on the line. Strader's 150-point lead would be hard to surpass unless he had trouble in the event.
By lap 17, Huffman and Roggen were side by side for 2nd place with Strader and Jake Hobgood in hot pursuit. Just as the battle was heating up, the machines of Maxie Bush and Kelly Sutton got together in turn one bringing out the first caution. The next four cautions would be for single car spins. Strader made his fuel stop early in the event, on lap 36. This placed him near the rear of the field.
By lap 69, he had raced his way back to 12th place. During the fifth caution, on lap 69, most of the leaders pitted for fuel.
On lap 84, Justin Hobgood had regained the lead, and by lap 105 the Hobgood brothers were in command with Strader and Huffman in tow. While working lap 107, Jake made a run on Justin and they raced hard down the backstretch bringing the fans to their feet. Jake pulled ahead in turn four, and Strader came with him dropping Justin back to third. Chuck Garfrarar (making only his second start) moved his car into fifth place.
On lap 132, Huffman's machine was off the pace and he began losing positions; the harsh reality of losing the championship set in.
As the drivers raced toward the white flag with Jake Hobgood well in command, Justin Hobgood worked his way to the inside the Strader machine. With the action mounting, the caution flag was displayed for an incident on the speedway, and Hobgood edged Strader back to the start-finish line by mere inches at the conclusion of the event. Chuck Gafrarar was fourth, and Keith Roggen rounded out the top five.Strader expressed his excitement by saying: "I feel a lot more confident about this championship now. I am truly excited for our Wesson Cooking Oil/Peter Pan Mercury Racing Team. We have worked hard all year for this. What a race! This one kept everyone on their toes."
Although Strader lost five points to Justin Hobgood, he retained a 145-point lead going into the season finale at the Nashville SuperSpeedway. He only has to start the race at Nashville to clinch his first NASCAR Goody's Dash Series touringChampionship title.