Chad Blount takes charge at Lowe's. CONCORD, NC (10-11-02) by Don Radebaugh - ARCA RE/MAX Series Rookie of the Year Chad Blount turned in a masterful performance Friday afternoon at Lowe's Motor Speedway winning the rain-delayed EasyCare ...
Chad Blount takes charge at Lowe's.
CONCORD, NC (10-11-02) by Don Radebaugh - ARCA RE/MAX Series Rookie of the Year Chad Blount turned in a masterful performance Friday afternoon at Lowe's Motor Speedway winning the rain-delayed EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 100.
Blount, in Todd Braun's APP Gas Dodge, kept veterans' Ron Hornaday and Frank Kimmel at bay to earn the hard-fought victory and his fourth superspeedway triumph of the season. And while Kimmel had already clinched his fourth series national championship, Blount clinched ARCA's Superspeedway Challenge title by earning the most points on superspeedways throughout the season.
"It was pretty exciting," said Blount in victory lane. "We had an awesome car all day. We had to gamble on fuel mileage. I don't know how much is left in there, but it doesn't matter now. This is really big for us. The guys have worked really hard all year. We got a little loose there at the end, but this is a big momentum boost for us next year."
Blount, headed to the NASCAR Busch Series fulltime in 2003, never pitted during the 67-lap, 100-mile race while Hornaday and Kimmel, as did most of the front-runners, each stopped once for tires and fuel.
"We'd also like to dedicate our win to the memory of Eric Martin," added Blount. "It's been a very difficult week for everyone." Martin, of Hixson, Tennessee, was killed in a practice crash at the track on Wednesday.
Hornaday, in a newly formed team, finished second .888 seconds away from Blount in the National Guard Chevrolet. "We pitted because our team was looking to gain some experience," said Hornaday. "I thought everybody else would pit and we could cycle back around. All in all, we had a blast; that's all I can say."
Kimmel finished third in the Advance Auto Parts-Pork Ford. "It was a good day for us," said Kimmel. "We weren't going to pit, but we changed our strategy. We couldn't run with the top two cars so the best strategy would have been to stay on the track. It's great to win the championship again. It's an honor to do what I love to do. It's been a tough weekend. I don't think everyone's heart was in it today."
Rookie Chris Moore, in only his 3rd RE/MAX Series start, charged from the 38th starting position to fourth in the final running order in the 3-D Marketing/Eagle Hi-Tech Ford after pitting once for fuel and tires. "For my first time on a superspeedway, this isn't too bad," said Moore. "The car was really good towards the end. This is actually one of Jeremy Mayfield's old cars, so we had a good package overall. Roger Penske and Don Miller have both been a big help to me. Hopefully, things will work out for me one day." In addition, Moore picked up the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions throughout the race.
Veteran Bob Strait, in an unsponsored Ford, also pitted once and raced from the 31st starting position to finish a solid fifth.
With qualifying cancelled and the regularly-scheduled event rained out the night before, the race was lined by current car owner points putting Blount outside point leader/polesitter Kimmel for the start.
Kimmel got the jump on Blount at the onset and led the first seven laps before Blount charged underneath Kimmel off turn four. Blount then set sail out front while Hornaday, who started in the last row, steered his way up front to challenge. Hornaday passed Kimmel on a restart and set off after Blount who put up a stiff challenge for two circuits before giving up the top-spot to Hornaday on lap 17. Then Hornaday, who led up through lap 37, elected to come down pit road for service during a caution period handing the lead back to Blount who would never relinquish it. Hornaday, on fresher tires, charged back through the field up to second but could not get to Blount in time to mount a serious challenge falling short at the final stripe by about five lengths.
In all, there were four cautions for minor incidents throughout the relatively short race.
Jason Jarrett, in the Biomet-Damon RV Chevrolet, raced in the top-five for most of the race ending up sixth in the final running order ahead of Kevin Conway who finished seventh in Ernie Irvan's Eagle One-Valvoline Chevrolet. Jeff Fultz, the RE/MAX Series winner at Lowe's earlier this year, raced from the last starting position to eighth in the C&C Boiler Ford. Brent Sherman finished a solid ninth in the Serta Mattress-Hickory Farms Chevrolet with Richard Mitchell, in the Coach USA-Mountaineer Gaming Pontiac, trailing in tenth.
Hornaday also picked up the Loctite Halfway Leader award while Michael Vergers, who was quickest in practice, earned the Landrum Spring Hard Luck award for his 37th place finish after falling out with engine failure.
Funeral services were held for Martin in his hometown of Marion, Virginia on Saturday, October 12th at 2 PM.
The next activity for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be the 50th annual national championship awards banquet in Covington, Kentucky on December 14th.
FINAL TOP-10 ARCA RE/MAX SERIES POINTS: 1) Frank Kimmel 6150; 2) Chad Blount 5655; 3) Jason Jarrett 5145; 4) Chase Montgomery 4755; 5) Shelby Howard 4735; 6) Billy Venturini 4680; 7) Andy Belmont 4520; 8) Mark Gibson 4455; 9) Ron Cox 4405; 10) Norm Benning 4230.