Greenville, S. C. (April 11, 2003) - The "new" NASCAR Elite Division, Kodak Southeast Series will kick off their 2003 racing season on April 26 at the "granddaddy" of short tracks for this NASCAR Touring Series, Greenville-Pickens (SC) Speedway...
Greenville, S. C. (April 11, 2003) - The "new" NASCAR Elite Division, Kodak Southeast Series will kick off their 2003 racing season on April 26 at the "granddaddy" of short tracks for this NASCAR Touring Series, Greenville-Pickens (SC) Speedway with the $48,928 Golden Bear Golf 150.
Greenville-Pickens Speedway, the second oldest track in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, has hosted more events for this series since 1991 than any other track (24).
The sponsor of the race, Golden Bear Golf, was started and is owned by the greatest golfer of all-time, Jack Nicklaus.
Greenville-Pickens Speedway has been very instrumental in support of the Greenville Shriner Children's Hospital. Two years ago, part of the racing weekend at Greenville was a golf tournament with all proceeds going to the Children's Hospital. This will be the third year the tournament has been held and the first year to attract a major sponsor to the annual event.
Defending series champion Jeff Fultz along with 2000 series champion Billy Bigley Jr. have entered this event with Fultz looking to add his name to the long list of former winners at this track. Bigley has won twice at this half-mile speedplant while Fultz has managed only three top five finishes.
Bigley is the "ironman" of the series with 176 NASCAR while Fultz holds the runnerup position with 104 career starts. Bigley finished the year fourth in national points.
"I just do not know why we have so much trouble at this track," said Fultz. "This is the only track on this year's schedule we have not won at outside of the three new tracks on the schedule. Greenville is tough with the long straight-aways and the tight corners and handling is definitely the key. We just have not had the problems anywhere else like we have here."
Greenville will also see the return, to the series, of "Fast" Eddie Mercer. Mercer, Pensacola, Fla., one of the most revered drivers in the south, took time off from racing in 2002 to start a new business but is now ready to get back behind the wheel. Despite only making five starts in 2002, Mercer's record speaks for his reputation. He recorded two Bud Pole starts and one win at Kentucky Speedway.
David Reutimann, who finished second in national points in 2002, will miss this first race of the season in his Pennzoil Chevrolet as he will be competing with the NASCAR Busch Series in a program for future stars of NASCAR sponsored by Hills Bros. Coffee.
Another driver looking for a fast start in 2003 under the new banner of the Kodak Southeast Series is Charlie Bradberry. Bradberry was 2001 Rookie-of-the- Year on the series and was one of three title contenders last year. He led the series points after five consecutive races but fell short of becoming the youngest series champion with mechanical woes in the final three races. He finished 2002 third in the national points standing.
Jason Hogan, the 2002 series Rookie-of-the-Year has one goal in mind for 2003 and that is the series championship. Hogan, at 20 years of age, is one of the youngest on the series but certainly one of the most determined on the series. He finished seventh in the national points last year earning his first Bud Pole start at Southern National Speedway and had six top ten finishes in 13 starts.
Returning to competitive racing in 2003 and his first full time ride with this series, will be the man who doubled for Kenny Rogers in the movie Six Pack some years back, Billy McGinnis. McGinnis is no stranger to short track late model racing having competed with the late Bob Harmon's former All Pro Super Series in the 80's. McGinnis will be driving for the B & B Performance Engines Race Team.
This race will be one of three series televised events in 2003, shown on a tape-delayed basis, and that coverage has brought out another tough driver from the Pensacola, Fla. area who made a strong showing in 2002 with the series in his five starts. Scott Carlson had two Bud Pole starts, one win at Kentucky Speedway and four top five and top ten finishes in his five starts.
The Rookie-of-the-Year program got a shot in the arm for 2003 when Victory Circle Chassis joined the NASCAR Marketing program and agreed to sponsor the first year program for all four new NASCAR Elite Division Series. The 2003 ROY will receive $5,000 making this the highest award ever for a rookie contender on this series. Three drivers have already indicated their intention to compete for this honor, Cecil Chunn of Spring Hill, Tn., "Texas" Terry Mason of Birmingham, Al. and John Wilkinson III of Hueytown, Al.
The action at Greenville-Pickens Speedway gets underway Saturday, April 26, when pit gates open at 9:00 am. Practice will be from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm with qualifying for the Golden Bear Golf 150 starting at 6:00 pm. The 150-lap race should take the green flag at 8:00 pm.