BRISTOL, TN. (August 22 2001)-What could have been, should have been, would have been, IF. That was the theme of David Reutimann, Shane Sieg and Kevin Prince Wednesday evening at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR ...
BRISTOL, TN. (August 22 2001)-What could have been, should have been, would have been, IF.
That was the theme of David Reutimann, Shane Sieg and Kevin Prince Wednesday evening at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring Charter Communications 250 when all three drivers had the opportunity to record their first career wins.
In the end it was Jeff Fultz leading the final 12 laps to secure his first victory on the high banks of Bristol and closing the points margin between himself and Wayne Anderson to only 49 points.
Fultz took the point on lap 238 when race leader Prince, who was running the strongest race of his career, and the lapped car of Eddie Mercer got together exiting turn two. When this happened Fultz was on Prince's back bumper. He grabbed the lead, had a good restart, then held off a hard charging Kenny Wallace for the win. Prince's car ended up between turns three and four and finished for the night.
"This is a great win for this Jon Craig led team," said Fultz. "We really didn't have the car to win tonight and I feel bad for Kevin (Prince). He was so strong and we were not going to catch him. But as it turned out we were in the right place at the right time."
"My hat is off this crew. We had a good pit stop and they got me out in a good position. I have been coming to Bristol since 1996 and this is the best we have ever done. We've really been doing our homework on restrictor plate motors. Rick Kippley is a restrictor plate whiz and his motors have carried us to three wins this year."
Finishing behind the winner was NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division driver Wallace making his first series start since 1994 in the Victor Ford/United Painting Ford, Randy Gentry with his Carolina Title Lending/Carolina Payday Chevrolet, Wireway/Husky Corp Rookie of the year contender Charlie Bradberry with his Bradberry Racing Chevrolet and Freddie Query, 1998 Gatorade All Pro Series, National Champion, making his first series start since this race last year, in the Hamner Racing Chevrolet.
Reutimann started the evening in great shape picking up his first career Bud Pole award with a time of 15.840 Secs (121.136 mph) around the .533-mile oval with a restrictor plate motor. Outside front row went to Stanley Smith with his Express Oil Change Chevrolet.
Reutimann led the 32-car field to the green flag with Smith along side. They went side by side till Smith took his mount to the low side of turn on lap three trying to take the lead. The two cars touched with Smith spinning however no caution was displayed.
Reutimann's Pennzoil Chevrolet continued to be strong with A. J. Frank, Prince, Brian Smith and 2000 Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, NASCAR Touring Champion Garrett Evans rounding out the top five and chasing Reutimann.
Reutimann had the field covered but six cautions for 38 laps before the 100 lap mark slowed the pace of the race.
Fultz was running fifth on lap 70 then up to fourth on lap 115 with Query fifth, Bradberry, sixth and Wallace in seventh.
When Reutimann got caught behind slower traffic at the halfway mark Prince closed to his back bumper with Evans, Fultz and Query still in the top five.
When Mercer's car spun on lap 161, bringing out the seventh race caution all the top cars pitted except for Reutimann who pitted on lap 163. Prince, Fultz, Wallace, Evans, Bradberry, Genty and Query took on fresh Hoosier shoes with Evans dropping to fourth after the stop. Sieg assumed the point with Brian Hoppe, Prince, Benny Gordon and Fultz rounding out the top five.
However Reutimann's stop ended a super run for the Zepher Hills, Fla. driver as rear end problems put his car out of the race.
Sieg looked very strong for his first at the front of the field this year and opened a sizeable lead over Prince running second. However on lap 212 his car was off the pace caused by a rear end hub problem putting him out of the race and turning the point over to Prince.
Prince was strong also for his first time at the front of the pack in 2001. His best finish was about to be erased with his first win but as they say it is never over "Till The Fat Lady Sings".
With Prince leading the field, Fultz, Hoppe, Wallace and Evans were in tow. Prince had his machine dialed in as he circled the fast speedplant. In fact Fultz's crew knew they would not be able to catch the fleeting driver.
Then the incident occurred in turn two ending Prince's night of glory. When the field went back to green with four laps remaining, Wallace moved his Ford to the low side of turns one and two under Hoppe's Chevrolet. Hoppe drifted high on the track which allowed Gentry, Bradberry, Query, Gordon and Evans to improve one position to the checkered flag.
Rounding out the top ten finishers were Gordon, Evans, Hoppe, Wayne Anderson, who remained the series points leader and Wireway/Husky Inc. Rookie-of-the-Year points leader Jody Lavender.
Reutimann won the Gatorade "FrontRunner" Award while Fultz earned $1,000 from Gatorade in the Gatorade Championship Performance Award.
Jon Craig won the Jasper Engines and Transmissions Crew Chief Award for the fourth time this year with Charlie Bradberry being the highest finishing rookie of the race.
The next event for the Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring will be the Louisville 250 on September 8 at Louisville (KY) Motor Speedway.