BRASELTON, Ga. (July 2, 2004) - For NASCAR AutoZone Division, Southeast Elite Series driver Jeff Fultz, his batting average for the first seven races of the 2004 season is almost .500. Fultz picked up his third victory of the year Friday night in...
BRASELTON, Ga. (July 2, 2004) - For NASCAR AutoZone Division, Southeast Elite Series driver Jeff Fultz, his batting average for the first seven races of the 2004 season is almost .500. Fultz picked up his third victory of the year Friday night in convincing fashion by leading every lap of the Firecracker 150 at Lanier National Speedway.
While that doesn't sound like that much of a thriller on paper, that was far from the case as Fultz had more that a handful of challengers that wanted to end the Southeast Series championship leader's dominance. In fact, Fultz had to hold off a late restart, ahead of runner-up Donald Long and third-place finisher Justin Wakefield, to seal the deal.
"To pick up my first victory at Lanier means a great deal to me," Fultz said. "We were fortunate to be able to start on the front row and grab the lead on the first lap. I had such a good car that all I needed to do was hit my marks and stay out of trouble. There were a couple of cars that had a shot at me, but we ended up with the most dominant car."
Having a dominant car is something that Fultz has become quite used to in his Southeast Series career as the Lanier victory puts him one win shy of Wayne Anderson on the all-time win list with 20 triumphs. His Lanier victory also allowed Fultz to pad his lead in the Southeast Series championship lead over rookie J.R. Norris who moved into the second position with Erik Darnell third and Jason Hogan dropping back to fourth.
"We got off to a little bit of a slow start, but we've been getting better and better," Fultz said. "Now we're heading back to a lot of tracks that we've historically run very well at, so that means a lot when you're racing for a championship like we are."
Though Long thought he might have had a shot at the victory in his Southeast Series season debut, he admitted that he didn't get the restart that he would have like with two laps remaining.
"It was a great night for us," Long said. "I fought hard all night long to stay in touch with the leaders and it ended up paying off for us at the end. If we could have stayed with the leader on that last restart, it might have been a different story. It was a good finish for us and we'll take that and try to build on it from there."
Considering that Wakefield and his team didn't get their car back from the chassis shop until Tuesday night because of repairs being made, he walked out of the Firecracker 150 smelling like a rose.
"We had our work cut out for us, that's for sure," Wakefield said. "I'm happy to have a little bit of good luck come my way after the struggles this team has been through this year. Everything that could wrong for us has gone wrong this year, so now I think I've got the monkey off my back and we can go forward from here."
The start of the race got off to somewhat of a sluggish start with two cautions in the first 10 laps. The first of those yellow flag came on the second lap when Eddie Stivers was sent spinning in the first turn, with Robert Richardson also getting a bit of right-front damage. The second yellow flag was a very costly one to Hogan - who came in to the race second in the point standings - when he had rear-end problems on the sixth lap to see his night come to a premature end.
The fourth caution of the race was also a costly one for Southeast Series championship contender Norris who came into the Firecracker 150 sitting third in the standings behind Fultz and Hogan, but was forced to play catch-up when his Ford was sent spinning off the third turn on Lap 69.
The NASCAR Southeast Elite Division, Southeast Series returns to action Wednesday, July 7, in the AutoZone 150 at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C.