SES: Nashville: Race report

Ryan Hemphill name in NASCAR record book with Hills Bros All Pro Series, Nascar Touring win at Nashville Superspeedway. LEBANON, TN. (June 7 2002) - Ryan Hemphill took the lead from Charlie Bradberry on the white flag lap then held off a hard ...

Ryan Hemphill name in NASCAR record book with Hills Bros All Pro Series, Nascar Touring win at Nashville Superspeedway.

LEBANON, TN. (June 7 2002) - Ryan Hemphill took the lead from Charlie Bradberry on the white flag lap then held off a hard charging Jeff Fultz Friday evening in the Sunbelt Rentals 125 at Nashville Superspeedway to win his first Hills Bros. All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring event.

Finishing behind the Apollo, Pa. driver's Argo Packing Co. Chevrolet, was Fultz in his C & C Boiler/Cleaver Brooks Chevrolet, Bradberry's in his Bradberry Racing Chevrolet, Benny Gordon with his Johnny's Haulmark Trailer Pontiac and David Reutimann in his Pennzoil Chevrolet.

"This is Awesome", said Hemphill when he exited his car in victory lane. "The car worked so good tonight and I was just riding out there. We moved up a little but when that last caution waved I felt we might have a chance at winning."

"I owe everything to my dad and this crew. They have given me a good car every time we race. In our only other start with this series we finished third at Memphis last year and now we have our first win. Maybe we can carry this momentum over to Kentucky next week."

The ending was disappointing for Bradberry who has been in contention for his first win in the last two races with the final lap deciding the winner.

"Ryan was just quicker then we were," said Bradberry after the race. "My car was pushing at the end and when his car got under me in turn two I just knew I didn't have enough for him."

With Bradberry's third place and Reutimann's fifth place finish, Bradberry took over the series points lead by one point over Reutimann. A late race caution when Ray Skillman's Dupont/Kendall Oil Ford scraped the turn four wall closed the field for a green/white/checkered finish with Bradberry leading the field on the final race restart.

Eddie Mercer, who set the series qualifying mark on the 1.333-mile oval, at 32.640 Secs (147.022 mph) had the rest of the 36-car field chasing him over the first 85 laps until he pitted during that caution.

Mercer, Hemphill, Bradberry, David Reutimann, Fultz, and others pitted for fresh Hoosier shoes. Bradberry took on two left side tires and exited the pits first while Hemphill took on two right sides tires and was second out. Mercer decided to go for a four-tire change putting him in sixth for the restart.

But the night clearly belonged to "Fast Eddie" who dedicated his first Bud Pole Award of 2002 to "Uncle Bob" Harmon who passed away on May 30. "Bob gave me the nick name of "Fast Eddie" and we will miss his efforts in racing tremendously," said Mercer in accepting the Award.

Throughout the first 85 laps, the race was for the runner-up spot with Mercer's Everwood/Phoenix/Quality Auto Parts Chevrolet opening a huge lead over the cars of Reutimann, Bradberry, Roger Parker and Hemphill. By the half-way mark, Fultz had moved his Chevrolet into contention with Reutimann holding down second and Hemphill and Bradberry swapping positions.

"I knew we were going to have to pit," said Mercer after the race, "but darn it sure was a costly stop. "The lug nuts did not get tight and when I went back on the track the car just did not handle well. I returned to the pits and Jimmy (Wainwright) found the wheel stud has wallowed out the stud hole on the wheel. I just parked the car rather then tear it up."

"We wanted to win this race so bad," continued Mercer. "Had we not had that little problem I just know we would have been in victory lane."

With the late race caution, the race was extended two laps with the green/white/checkered finish. Bradberry lead the cars to line with Hemphill in second, Gordon in third, Fultz in fourth and rookie of the year contender Joe Aramendia in fifth and Reutimann in sixth. There was lots of fender rubbing on the last lap with Fultz edging Bradberry by inches at the checkered flag and Reutimann getting around Aramendia. With his sixth place, Aramendia was the top finishing rookie contender with Mercer earning the Gatorade "Front Runner" Award for leading the most laps.

Rounding out the top ten finishers after Aramendia were Parker, Billy Bigley Jr., Jason Hogan and Cecil Chunn.

The next event for the Hills Bros. All Pro Series will be The Lexington Herald Leader presents The Kentucky 150.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers David Reutimann , Jeff Fultz , Ryan Hemphill , Joe Aramendia , Eddie Mercer