Jeff Fultz Wins NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series Kentucky 150 2002 Champion Gains Series Points Lead With Home Track Victory SPARTA, Ky. (June 18, 2004) - Before the 2004 racing season began, Cincinnati native Jeff Fultz said...
Jeff Fultz Wins NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series Kentucky 150
2002 Champion Gains Series Points Lead With Home Track Victory
SPARTA, Ky. (June 18, 2004) - Before the 2004 racing season began, Cincinnati native Jeff Fultz said one of his main goals was to win another race at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway, which is located in Northern Kentucky just 35 miles from his hometown. Fultz, the 2002 Southeast Series champion, did just that on Friday night by winning the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series Kentucky 150 in dramatic fashion. It was Fultz's third victory at the track, and the 19th Southeast Series win of his career.
"I can't even explain how much this means," said Fultz. "This track means more to me than any of the others. All of my family is up there in the stands, I know a lot of people here and they all come out and pay to watch me and it's just so exciting."
The win netted Fultz $11,000 in prize money and another worthy reward - the championship points lead. Entering the Kentucky 150, Fultz trailed Jason Hogan by 36 points in the standings. Fultz's win, combined with Hogan's 12th-place finish, places him in the lead by four points with six races remaining.
The race itself unfolded as a battle of wills and wits between Fultz and polesitter Erik Darnell, of Beach Park, Ill. Darnell paced the field for the first 13 laps before Fultz charged underneath him to take the lead in turn three. From that point forward, it was Fultz's race to lose as Darnell patiently pursued Fultz's No. 54 C&C Boiler Chevrolet at every turn.
On lap 72, the race took an interesting twist when the caution flag came out for the second time. During the caution, Fultz and the rest of the race leaders headed down pit road to take on fuel. Fultz and Darnell, still locked in a tight battle, each only took a "splash" of fuel, just enough to get them through the race and not lose time in the pits. Fultz exited pit road ahead of Darnell and the race resumed.
What race leaders didn't anticipate, however, was another caution period on the 99th lap. Under NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division rules, the race does not end under caution, but is extended for a "green-white-checker" finish. For Darnell, the quick pit stop proved to be his downfall. Darnell ran out of gas as the field circled under the yellow flag and his misfortune put rookie Chris Davidson, of Pearland, Tex., in second place behind Fultz.
The next question on the minds of racers and fans alike was whether or not Fultz's "splash 'n go" fuel stop would be enough to carry him to the finish, which eventually came on lap 107.Fultz, who powered ahead of Davidson for the win, says fuel mileage was no problem.
"The caution really helped," said Fultz. "What I did was I started saving fuel at the beginning. I didn't take off too fast out of pit road, I waited until the last second. I shut the motor off quite a bit, while I was running under caution, just to save a little bit [of fuel], whatever I could. I'd just coast. We knew we had to stop, but we knew if we could stretch it a little farther we wouldn't need as much when we did come in."
Odds and Ends - Fultz's 19th Southeast Series victory puts him within two wins of tying the series' all-time win record of 21 wins, held by Wayne Anderson. ... Attendance for the Kentucky 150 was 16,111. ... The Bud Pole Award by Erik Darnell marked the first time he's won a claimed a pole in a NASCAR event.
Time of Race: 1 hrs., 22 mins, 37 secs
Average Speed: 116.562 mph
Margin of Victory: .262 Seconds
BUD POLE AWARD: Erik Darnell, 7 AMI Trailer Leasing/Appleton Rack & Pinion Chevrolet
FEATHERLITE MOST IMPROVED DRIVER AWARD: Robert Richardson, II *, 33 North Teams Pipe / McKinney Pipe Chevrolet
POWERADE POWER MOVE OF THE RACE AWARD: Johnny Brazier, 74 Furniture Factory/Troupe Industries Chevrolet
Caution Flags: Laps 5-10; 72-76; 99-105. 3 cautions for 18 laps.
Lap Leaders: Erik Darnell 1-13, Jeff Fultz 14-107.
Total Laps Led: Jeff Fultz 94, Erik Darnell 13. 1 lead change involving 2 drivers.
Unofficial Top 10 Driver Points: Jeff Fultz 941, Jason Hogan 937, J.R. Norris * 924, Erik Darnell 916, Kevin Prince 827, Chris Davidson * 826, Greg Pope 779, John Wilkinson, III 777, Wayne Bowen 775, Michael Faulk * 721
Next Race: Lanier National Speedway, July 1