Pete Silva wins an emotional opener at Greenville Pickens Speedway

GREENVILLE, SC (March 17, 2001)- On a night when the fans turned out in large numbers to honor fallen NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, another man in black ended up in victory lane to dedicate the opening night win to the seven time Winston Cup ...

GREENVILLE, SC (March 17, 2001)- On a night when the fans turned out in large numbers to honor fallen NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, another man in black ended up in victory lane to dedicate the opening night win to the seven time Winston Cup champion. Asheville's Pete Silva survived a lap three melee between turns three and four which sent several cars to the pits, including that of defending track champion and polesitter Gene Morgan. Silva, the 1998 track champion, was closing close behind Morgan as the pair dipped low rounding the third turn. That's when Morgan's Ford Taurus begin to spin and Silva steered his Chevrolet Monte Carlo to the high side and out of danger. But several drivers from back of the pack were not so fortunate, including Kevin Bishop, John McAbee, Columbia's Dan Shumaker and veteran driver Fred Phillips. On the restart, Silva jumped to a quick lead over Donnie Bishop and Jay White, with David Roberts and Kenneth Headen rounding out the top five. By lap 23 Silva was in complete control of the top position, with White challenging Bishop for second place. Marshall NC's Stephen Gahagan appeared to have the strong car as the laps were winding down, moving up from back of the field to pass Roberts on lap 18, and picking off Liberty's Kenneth Headen for the fourth place position on lap 25. Bishop eventually shook off the threats from Anderson's Jay White to hang onto the second place position, but could not close the gap with Silva in the remaining circuits. White settled for third, with Gahagan moving up from back of the field to score a strong fourth place showing. Headen fell to fifth, and Roberts settled for sixth after a lap 17 spin. Greg Nix, Fred Phillips, Jimmy Driver, and Dickie Layton rounded out the seventh through tenth place positions.

"We barely got this thing finished last night, we never tested it until today," a happy Pete Silva said in victory lane. "I just feel real lucky because I think Donnie was coming on strong there in the end. What a thrill for us to win on a Dale Earnhardt evening, I'm as true an Earnhardt fan as you're ever going to see, and this win is for him," said Silva.

In the 15 lap Super Stock event, Greenville's Robby Robbins passed early leader Phillip Lynch and held on to score an opening night win. Lynch settled for second, and last year's Street Stock champion Randy Ballew came from back of the pack to place third. Mountville's Jon Martin and Jayson Brown rounded out the top five.

Daryl Culbertson bested Chris Meinders of Liberty and Michael Bruton to take the 15 lap Street Stock checkers. Kevin Fuller placed fourth, and 2000 Charger champion Travis Allen was fifth.

Lee Bright scored his first career win in the Charger I feature race, after apparent winner Robert Horton failed to pass post-race technical inspection. Greenville's Joel Cox was second, and Michael Pittman was third.

In the Charger II race, Greer's Ted Somero bested Travis Hardin and Robert McCall to get an opening night trip to victory lane.

-Keith Cochran

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , David Roberts