Lebanon, TN (November 26, 2001) Cam Strader has won his first ever NASCAR Championship. Strader, a 22 year-old native of Wilson, North Carolina, emerged at the top of the Series Championship points following the third race of the season and never...
Lebanon, TN (November 26, 2001) Cam Strader has won his first ever NASCAR Championship. Strader, a 22 year-old native of Wilson, North Carolina, emerged at the top of the Series Championship points following the third race of the season and never relented. His efforts down the homestretch secured him the luxury of rolling off from the starting grid at the Nashville SuperSpeedway to claim the title, after coming into the event with an insurmountable 145-point lead.
Bud Pole Qualifying for the MBNA All American Thanksgiving Classic was rained out on Friday handing the pole position to Strader.
At the start of the race, Strader jumped out to the early lead and dominated by leading the first 70 laps of the race. Robert Huffman passed Strader with five laps to go, and collected his fourth win of the season. By leading the most laps in the event, Strader topped Huffman for the prestigious Gatorade Front Runner Award.
In 2001, Strader battled the other drivers in the Goody's Dash Series NASCAR Touring division for the entire season in hopes of winning the championship. Sunday afternoon, he and the rest of the Wesson Cooking Oil/Peter Pan Peanut Butter crew did just that.
Strader won the second race of the season at the Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, NC, and swept both races at the Coastal Plains Speedway in Jacksonville, NC. One of the high points of the season was the prestigious victory at the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Strader qualified on the pole position for four of the 18 events this season and has not started outside of the top ten in any of the 18 events.
He and the Barry Owen led crew used the 2000 season as a building year, and claimed the Rookie of the Year title in the Dash Series. Strader's goal for the 2001 season was to win at least three races and the Championship. Through dedication and determination, the crew surpassed that goal by winning four races, and finishing in the top 10, 16 out of the 18 events.
"We wanted this one bad," said Strader with great emotion. "We wanted it bad for our sponsors, and all the hard-working employees at Wesson and Peter Pan Peanut Butter. I am so proud of the way my guys performed this season. They knew how important this championship was, and they worked together like a finely tuned machine. Each of these guys stayed focused on his particular job and performed that task to the best of his ability. That's what makes you a Championship team. They are a great bunch of guys, and I'm very blessed to have each and every one of them on my team. They are all Champions in their own way."
Guiding Strader along the way was a pair of racing veterans in crew chief, Barry Owen and team manager, Mike Congdon.
"Cam is a true racer," said Owen, whose racing resume includes work with a list of names that looks like a NASCAR history lesson. Included in that list are names like Petty, Labonte, Foyt, and Rusty Wallace, just to name a few. "Cam works on these cars and knows every inch of what goes into them. He is very receptive to new or different ideas, and he knows when you make a change in the chassis set-up what effect it will have on the car. The drivers that can build a car from the ground up are the ones that have the best understanding of what's going on," he explained.
"Cam is one of the best I've ever seen," said Congdon, who has worked with talents such as Hank Parker Jr., Ernie Irvin, Derrike Cope, and Shirley Muldowney. "Cam has wisdom way beyond his years when he straps himself into that racecar. Underlying his cool demeanor is a definite controlled aggressiveness -- a page right out of the Pearson/Earnhardt handbook."
"Barry and Cam felt that adding some new faces to this crew last winter would complete the package, and it has definitely made a positive impact on the organization," added Congdon. "Barry's son, Billy is a great fabricator and works with Cam on the chassis set-up. He is also the team's gasman on race day. Jim White brings former crew chief experience to the mix and is our tire specialist. Their racing knowledge, coupled with the people we already had in place, gave us a strong nucleus of experience throughout this Championship run."
When asked about his plans for next season, Strader replied: "This championship is the crowning achievement of my career, thus far. With this title in our pocket, we feel that we are now graduates of the Goody's Dash Series. We plan to defend the Goody's Dash title in 2002, but are exploring other opportunities for running limited schedules in both the ARCA and Busch series. At this time we are fielding offers from car owners and teams. We won't ever forget the excitement of this season, and we will use it as a stepping stone for career advancement."