Robert Huffman closing in on championship number five DAYTONA BEACH, FL (July 17, 2003) The Goody's Dash Series most recent stop was the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, a short drive from the city of Cincinnati. The Speedway is situated...
Robert Huffman closing in on championship number five
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (July 17, 2003) The Goody's Dash Series most recent stop was the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, a short drive from the city of Cincinnati. The Speedway is situated conveniently beside Interstate 71, sitting atop a hillside overlooking an expanse of some of the most beautiful Kentucky countryside.
Justin Hobgood earned the Bud Pole with 2002 Rookie of the Year, Chuck Gafrarar on the outside of the front row. Gafrarar was also saddled in a Hobgood prepared machine. Robert Huffman started the race in third and David Heitzhaus in forth.
On the initial start Hobgood sprinted into turn one with Huffman in tow. The first caution came on lap 15 when Heitzhaus looped his car in turn two. Danny Bagwell, started fifth, but slipped back in the early laps. "I knew that we needed to save on tire wear. I didn't want to race hard at the beginning of the race, so I just ran at a pace that allowed me to take it easy on the equipment," commented Bagwell.
NASCAR threw a caution on lap 45 to allow the teams to make pit stops to check tire wear. In the previous two events at the Speedway, the series ran only 67 laps. There was concern with tire wear, and with this race being 100 laps the sanctioning body felt it best to take the precaution. Most of the teams pitted. They were allowed to change four tires, during the event, without any penalty.
Ricky Bryant and Eric Wilson remained on the track. On the restart, Wilson charged on Bryant and took over the lead on lap 49. On lap 50, Jay Godley and Johnny Chapman crashed exiting turn two, with Godley's machine sustaining heavy damage.
Robert Huffman took over the top spot on lap 60 and never looked back. Justin Hobgood fought hard to overcome a botched pit stop. "I over shot my pit stall and had to go around and come back in," stated Hobgood. "It was just an error on my part."
With 30 laps to go, it was Huffman, Eric Wilson, Ned Combs, Danny Bagwell, Justin Hobgood, Mickey York, Scott Weaver, Bryant, Bill Clevenger, and Kelly Sutton rounded out the top ten.
Hobgood charged hard, moving back into the second spot. Bagwell followed him past Wilson and Combs. "Justin was faster than I was," said Bagwell. "I let him by me and then just tried to stay with him. I really didn't have anything for them. I was happy to be running in third."
With just a few laps remaining, Hobgood caught Huffman and raced him hard. But, each time Hobgood got a run on Huffman's White House Apple Juice Toyota Celica, Huffman would move to block him. "Rob was doing what the leader is supposed to do," Hobgood said.
Having a tough day was 2002 Series' Defending Champion, Jake Hobgood. Jake was late getting to the driver's meeting along with Mickey York and Ricky Bryant. The three drivers were forced to start at the rear of the field. Jake Hobgood was black flagged for jumping the start and was penalized with a stop and go. Despite the setbacks, Hobgood finished in 11th place.
Randy Humphrey, who remains in 5th place in the points standings, finished a disappointing 23rd due to engine problems. "We lost the belt on the oil pump," said Humphrey.
In victory lane, Huffman emerged from his car to the delight of this race team. The win marked Huffman's 41st career victory. Only Dean Combs has more wins (60).
"Both of the Hobgoods are tough competitors. I was a little concerned that Justin was going to catch me. He had to overcome the pit stop error and that allowed us to build up a solid lead. I was able to conserve fuel and my tires held up. When he got me, I had something left to hold him off," commented Huffman.
The rest of the top 10 were: Danny Bagwell, Eric Wilson, Mickey York, Scott Weaver, Ned Combs, Ricky Bryant, Bill Clevenger, and Kelly Sutton.
Huffman holds a 78 point advantage on Justin Hobgood as the series heads to Bristol on August 20th.