GREENVILLE, S.C. (August 14, 2004) - The quest of Jeff Fultz to become the most victorious driver in NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series history is now over. Well, at least for one race. Fultz picked up the 22nd victory of his...
GREENVILLE, S.C. (August 14, 2004) - The quest of Jeff Fultz to become the most victorious driver in NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series history is now over.
Well, at least for one race.
Fultz picked up the 22nd victory of his illustrious Southeast Series career on Saturday night in the AutoZone 150 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. The win broke Wayne Anderson's old mark of 21 victories.
It was the fifth win in 10 Southeast Series races this year for Fultz and his record-tying third straight victory at the legendary Greenville-Pickens short track. The emotion of the moment was not lost on Fultz who picked up his second Southeast Series victory in the span of one week coming on the heels of last Saturday night's win at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway.
"I don't even know the words to describe what this means to me," Fultz said. "I was really nervous all week heading into this race because I knew this was on the line. I probably put a little more pressure on myself and my team than I should have, but this feels good and it was worth it. I would have liked for Wayne Anderson to have been here so I could have raced him for the win, but this still feels good. This is big for me."
As if he needed anything else to celebrate, Fultz also padded his lead in the Southeast Series standings with only two races remaining. While Fultz tried to downplay it, he took one huge step towards claiming his second Southeast Series championship.
"We gained some points so that was good because we're heading into our final two races of the season," Fultz said. "This is a big step towards the championship. Now that we broke the win record we can go to the last two races knowing what we need to do as far as points are concerned. I've had a 91-point lead before and lost the championship, so I'm going to take it a step at a time."
Kevin Prince finished second with Erik Darnell third. Johnny Brazier and Wakefield rounded out top-five.
"I'm getting kind of tired of finishing second and to have not won a race yet, but it's a good finish for us," Prince said. "I really wanted to win this race and I know we're going to grab a victory before all is said and done. My teammate won the race and I was second so it was good night for us as a team. I just wished we could have switched the finishing order around one position. If I can't win, I want Jeff to win. I'm proud of everybody involved."
Darnell was somewhat disappointed with his third-place finish despite the fact he took over second in the Southeast Series point standings over J.R. Norris who had handling problems just past the midway part through the race and ended up 20th.
"We just missed the set-up," Darnell said. "We made an adjustment on the pit stop and had to fight our way back from there. We can't really say the championship is over because all it takes is Jeff Fultz to have one bad race. If that were to happen there would be several guys getting back in the championship race."
The start of Saturday night's 150-lapper saw Georgia native Jason Hogan jump out to take the early lead from Wakefield. Hogan held the top spot until hometown favorite Randy Gentry grabbed the lead from him on the fifth lap with a looming Fultz trying to track him down. By Lap 28, whatever advantage that Gentry had built was erased as Fultz stormed past to take the point until a harmless spin by Randy Pedley brought out the caution on Lap 35.
That set the stage for a mandatory series of pit stops that saw all the leaders duck in for service. Fultz led the field both into the pits on entry and exit to take the Lap 41 restart ahead of Gentry and Wakefield. By the race's one-third mark Fultz had pulled out to about a half a straightaway advantage, but the race for second on back was anything but decided with some furious racing taking place.
The field got somewhat of a break on Lap 90 when Fultz saw his lead erased because of a caution second and final caution for debris in the second turn. Yet in the end, there was no denying Fultz and his place in the record books to take the win by .614 seconds over Prince.