Strader Fourth at Daytona Last year's NASCAR Goody's Dash Series Champion, Cam Strader picked up right where he left off in 2001 when the serries' rolled into the Daytona International Speedway. Strader was one of the quickest cars in testing...
Strader Fourth at Daytona
Last year's NASCAR Goody's Dash Series Champion, Cam Strader picked up right where he left off in 2001 when the serries' rolled into the Daytona International Speedway.
Strader was one of the quickest cars in testing in January and came back even faster when the teams qualified for the season opening Daytona USA 150.
Strader started third after pole winner, Larry Caudill and defending champion of the event, Justin Hobgood.
"That's the quickest laps we've run all week," said Strader after qualifying. "We tested well and the Wesson car just seems to keep getting better. My crew and new crew chief Billy Owen is doing a great job."
Robert Huffman, of Claremont, NC, used lady luck to score the win in the Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring season opening DAYTONA USA "150" at the Daytona International Speedway last Saturday. "We didn't have the car to win this race," stated an elated Huffman. "We didn't qualify well and I had trouble sticking with the lead draft throughout the race."
Larry Caudill, from N. Wilkesboro, NC, was perhaps the favored driver to win the race. His Crenshaw Motorsports entry was fastest in winter testing and he backed that up by sitting on the Bud Pole for the race. Caudill finished in 8th place and was clearly disappointed. "I am not happy with the way things turned out. I'm not really sure what happened with all of the confusion there at the end. We really had the car to win today," said Caudill. On the initial start and throughout the early stages of the event, the field lived up to its billing as perhaps the most experienced group of drivers in recent Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring competition at Daytona. The top 30 cars stayed side-by-side, and sometimes three-wide for the first 6 laps or so. Some of the media in attendance were awed by how well the drivers handled the intensity of such racing. "This is the best Dash race I have ever seen," was the common statement in the press box.
The first of three cautions came on lap 21 when Keith Roggen, Wayne Edwards, and Dan Shaver got together in turn one. "My car just turned on me as if the wind was taken off my spoiler," stated Edwards. Several cars sustained damage trying to avoid the incident, namely Danny Bagwell, Ned Combs, and Jimmy Foster. On lap 48, the leaders decided to make a stop for fuel. As the leaders entered the pits Steven Christian decided at the last minute to duck on to pit road as well. Unfortunately, Mike Gaines was unable to get his machine slowed down and crashed into the driver's side of the Christian machine.
The incident became one of the key factors in the outcome of the event. Since the leaders had already entered the pits they had to continue back onto the track in order not be caught on pit road under the caution, and thus losing a lap. After making another lap the Hobgoods re-entered the pits. However, race control had not yet opened the pit lane. So they were penalized for entering a closed pit. This would mean that they would have to restart at the end of the longest line. With one lap to go they pulled down to fall to the tail end of the field and this confused some of the drivers, who then started to fall back with them. The pace car entered the pits and the green flag waved. Huffman was one of the drivers who stayed in line and was able to take advantage of the confusion of the other drivers. "I wasn't sure what those guys were doing. I just knew I was supposed to stay caught up with the pace car, " said Huffman. David Hutto and Huffman swapped the lead twice over the next few laps. While working lap 56, Zach Brewer's machine was tapped and it sent him spinning through the grass on the Daytona Superstretch. This brought out the final caution period setting up the standard green-white-checkered finish. Series' Rookie Contender, Brandon Ward was leading when the yellow-flag came out. On the final restart the pack went after Ward exiting the tri-oval. "I was concerned about being in the lead at that point," said Ward. "I really wanted to be in second or third and have a chance to draft by at the end." Huffman went low and Wilson went to the high-side of Ward. Huffman entered turn one with a slight advantage over Wilson as the rest of the lead pack jockeyed for position. Series' defending Champion, Cam Strader, made a dashing move on the outside coming through three and four to put himself in contention. Jake Hobgood made his move to the inside and fought his way to second place. Eric Wilson held on to third and Strader finished in fourth. Rounding out the top ten were: Justin Hobgood, David Hutto, Brandon Ward, Larry Caudill, Brian Loftin, and David Heitzhaus.
"We're pleased with the fourth place finish. We did better than last year and on the last lap I thought I was going to get by everyone," said Strader.
I got a great run on the outside in turn three, and I knew it was going to get tight with all of us racing off turn four together. I banged doors with somebody all the way back to the checkered flag and that stalled my momentum. That's just racing at Daytona. The air moves the car around and you just have to hope you picked the right line at the end."