Myrtle Beach, S. C. (April 30, 2003) - The "new" NASCAR Elite Division, Kodak Southeast Series makes their annual stop at "The Beach" on May 16 for the $48,928 Time Warner Cable 150 in the second race on the 2003 series schedule. "We wanted to...
Myrtle Beach, S. C. (April 30, 2003) - The "new" NASCAR Elite Division, Kodak Southeast Series makes their annual stop at "The Beach" on May 16 for the $48,928 Time Warner Cable 150 in the second race on the 2003 series schedule.
"We wanted to change the series annual stop this year to a little earlier in the season and get away from the extreme heat we have had for the July events over the past several years," commented Billy Hardee, Myrtle Beach Speedway promoter. "We also are changing from a Saturday night race to a Friday night this year because of the Winston in Charlotte Saturday evening," continued Hardee.
"Additionally, it is "Bike Week" in Myrtle Beach which can bring others to the track now since families come here to vacation and enjoy the beach and play golf during the summer," stated Roy Gore, track manager.
Steven Howard, the winner of the opening event at Greenville-Pickens Speedway is very excited about bring his series points lead to the beach. "That win at my home track meant more to me then anything I have ever won, " said Howard. "And to be leading the series points for the first time has given me added incentive to come to Myrtle Beach for this event. This is an excellent track and you can run wide open on the .538-mile oval with the sweeping frontstretch dogleg."
Myrtle Beach is another mainstay of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, and has hosted series events dating back to 1987. This will be the 17th time they have hosted this NASCAR Series since 1991.
"We had a brand new car at Greenville," said Howard, "and we will bring the same care to Myrtle Beach. "I could not believe how well it handled for the first time on the track. Now that we have fine tuned some things at Greenville, I can't wait for this event."
Another driver anxious for this event at the huge .538-mile oval is Kevin Prince of nearby Wilmington, N. C. Prince has been a series regular since 2000 with some very good sponsors secured by car owner Randy Wilson. "This year we landed a national sponsor in Land O Frost Lunch Meats," commented Prince and a brand new car. "This is their first venture into this market and they are excited about being in the NASCAR family."
"We had an excellent run at Greenville and even held the lead so we know this car will handle well. We have many laps at Myrtle Beach and will have many race fans coming from Wilmington for this event. We finished third here last year and it would be wonderful to give Land O Frost their first NASCAR win at my home track."
One driver both Howard and Prince will have to contend with is Jeff Fultz, last year's winner and the 2002 Series Champion. Fultz had an excellent run at Greenville and was going for the win when he and race leader Eddie Mercer got together with three laps remaining.
Another driver who could make a strong showing is Benny Gordon of nearby Charleston, S. C. Gordon's team got off to a fast start by winning the Bud pole at Greenville with an eventual 15th place finish. Gordon is no stranger to starting up front on this series. He recorded two pole starts last year and he started from the pole here last year. Gordon's best finish at Myrtle Beach was a second in 2001 behind race winner Tim Sauter.
Qualifying is a little different for series contenders this season with either the top six, eight or ten drivers being inverted to start the 150-lap race. The driver posting the fastest qualifying time will determine the number of cars that will be inverted by virtue of his draw.
Sauter has entered this event with the same car owner, Richie Wauters, when he won here in 2001. This will be Sauter's second start with the series.
David Reutimann, who finished second in national points in 2002, missed the first race of the season in his Pennzoil Chevrolet as he was competing with the NASCAR Busch Series in a program for future stars of NASCAR sponsored by Hills Bros. Coffee. Reutimann has indicated he does not plan to miss any other races this year on the series and will be out to put his name into contention for the one trophy that has eluded him in his series career, the Championship Trophy.
Other top drivers expected for the Time Warner 150 are Charlie Bradberry, A. J. Frank, Randy Gentry, Nathan Haseleu, Allen Karnes, Billy McGinnis, Eddie Mercer, Jarod Robie, Brian Smith, Stanley Smith and many more series regulars.
McGinnis is returning to competitive racing in 2003 and will be in his first full time ride with this series. He doubled for Kenny Rogers in the movie Six Pack made some 18 years ago. 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. He is driving for the B & B Performance Engines Race Team.
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 and 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.
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. Terry Mason of Birmingham, Al. took an early lead in this competition over Cecil Chunn of Spring Hill, Tn., brother-in-law John "Boy" Wilkinson III of Hueytown, Al. and Justin Wakefield who is under the tutilage of six-time series Champion Jody Ridley.
The action at Myrtle Beach Speedway gets underway Friday, May 16, when pit gates open at 10:00 am. Practice will be from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm with qualifying for the Time Warner Cable 150 starting at 6:00 pm. The 150-lap race should take the green flag at 8:30 pm.