Lakeland-USA race report

Hobgood Successfully Defends USA International Speedway Title On His Way To His Second Win Of 2001 LAKELAND, FLA. (October 20, 2001) - The Hobgood brothers, from Winnsboro, South Carolina, took control of the front row in qualifying for ...

Hobgood Successfully Defends USA International Speedway Title On His Way To His Second Win Of 2001

LAKELAND, FLA. (October 20, 2001) - 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 at USA International Speedway. The older of the two brothers, Jake Hobgood, grabbed the Bud Pole with a time of 22.296 seconds (121.098 mph). Jake Hobgood commented, "Justin had me so anxious while he was out there making his run. He usually beats me by a hundreth of a second. But we got this one!" 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.

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. Cam Strader came into this event with a sizable lead in the Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring Championship points. Huffman was driving hard from the drop of the flag. To have any real shot at a fourth consecutive title, Huffman would have to make a huge gain in this particular event. Prior to the race, anyone could see the tiger in his eyes. While Justin Hobgood was leading the rest of the lead pack was dueling for position. Locals drivers, Keith Roggen and Derrick Kelley were right in the mix to the delight of the crowd. By lap 17 Huffman and Roggen were side by side for 2nd place with Strader and Jake Hobgood right in their draft.

Just as this 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. Cam Strader made his fuel stop early in the event, on lap 36. This placed him near the tail end 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. Randy Humphrey stayed on the track and inherited the lead. Humphrey led the field to green and held the top spot for 12 circuits. "It felt great to be out front," Humphrey said. "We needed to pit for fuel but we wanted to give our new sponsor VAC-CON manufacturing some exposure. We got a good jump on the restart and it was fun to lead such an exiciting event. Later on my car got tight and then we were swept up in that deal with a lapped car."

On lap 84 Justin Hobgood was back at the point. By lap 105 the Hobgood's 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 back stretch 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. Garfrarar's main career is doing aerodyamic fabricating for Penske South. He made is first career start at the Coastal Plains Raceway event in September.

On lap 132, Huffman's machine was off the pace and he began losing positions. Bringing with it the harsh reality that the faint glimmer of his championship hope had just gone out. "Something went wrong with the ignition. At this point I am not sure exactly what broke. Our Toyota was running real well up until that point," said Huffman. He would finish in 11th place. That disappointment will soon fade. After all, Huffman went to Hollywood this year to race with the stars in a Charity event in April. He won three events, the first ever for Toyota. Moved into a tie for second place on the all-time win list. Not too shabby of a year.

Coming to the checkered flag it was Jake Hobgood, Justin Hobgood, Cam Strader, Chuck Gafrarar, Keith Roggen, Derrick Kelley, Scott Weaver, Zach Brewer, Ned Combs, and rounding out the top ten was Wayne Edwards.

Cam 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."

Justin commented, "Jake's car was unbelievable. I had nothing for him. My car got so tight there at the end. I figured out that if I put my left front tire down on the apron the car would turn. Then I could get on the gas quicker than Cam. I really wanted to pass him."

"I have won one race a year for the past three years. To finally win two in a season is a big deal for us. I managed my tires early in the race. When I called on my car to go it was like it exploded with power. I am just so excited to get this win," said Jake Hobgood.

Other Notes of Interest: Scott Haller, Jason Roche', and Mike Leffingwell made their first career start. Jake Hobgood now has five career victories. Tim Nichols extends his MAG-KLIP Rookie lead to two points over Shane Hmiel. Hmiel must finish ahead of Wayne Edwards and have Tim Nichol finish behind Edwards to have a slim chance of gaining the title. Though Strader lost five points to Justin Hobgood, he has only to start the race at Nashville to clinch his first Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring Championship title. The Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring is one of NASCAR's regional series, with the southeastern United States as its region. Saturday at Lakeland, driver's home states included Washington, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

-nascar/gds-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Shane Hmiel , Cam Strader , Wayne Edwards , Robert Huffman , Justin Hobgood