Zach Brewer wins season finale at Atlanta. HAMPTON, GA (October 26, 2002) - Racing on the quarter-mile legends track had been a major topic of discussion for the entire 2002 season. Few thought putting these full-bodied compact racecars on this...
Zach Brewer wins season finale at Atlanta.
HAMPTON, GA (October 26, 2002) - Racing on the quarter-mile legends track had been a major topic of discussion for the entire 2002 season. Few thought putting these full-bodied compact racecars on this particular track was a good idea. Atlanta Motor Speedway President Ed Clark thought differently. And he was right.
Clark is very familiar with the Goody's Dash Series. He actually competed in the series as a driver in 1979 at North Carolina Motor Speedway. He qualified 12th and finished 15th. Clark states, "Those guys have always been and always will be just as serious about racing as Winston Cup drivers."
As the Atlanta date drew closer many wondered how many teams would enter the race. The turnout was strong, with 28 teams vying for 24 starting spots.
Twelve teams visited the quarter-mile on October 5th for a testing session. Most of those drivers came away with the conclusion that the Hobgoods were dialed in.
Racing the flat and tight oval brought back memories for many. For some, they reminisced about racing at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem (NC). For others, such as Randy Humphrey, it was a return to the roots of racing Legends. Humphrey was a multi-champion in the Brooks and Dunn Legends Series.
Representatives of Georgia-Pacific were on hand to give the command and wave the green flag. Ms. Jennifer Denise served as the Honorary Starter and Mr. Frances Head served as the Grand Marshall.
As the Georgia-Pacific 150 got under way, Pole sitter Justin Hobgood and outside pole sitter Zach Brewer dueled for position heading into the first turn. Brewer rocketed into the lead and never relented. Several times throughout the event Hobgood was able to get a fender alongside Brewer, but he was never able to complete the pass.
To the amazement of everyone in attendance, there was even three-wide racing at times. The race was slowed by 12 caution periods. The first came on lap one when the cars stacked up as they entered turn four. Jake Hobgood and Cam Strader both sustained damage. Also damaged were Scott Weaver, Brandon Ward, Kelly Sutton, and Arlene Pittman. Pittman and Sutton lost a lap in the fray. Charles Turner is the first car out of the race. His car never came up to speed and he did not complete a lap.
The tight racing brought the 15-20,000 fans to their feet time and time again.
On lap 144, the twelfth caution flag came out when Eric Wilson and Phillip Pittman crashed. Danny Bagwell headed for the grass to avoid wrecking. NASCAR displayed the red flag so that the cleanup crews could ready the track for the final shootout.
As the cars were instructed to re-fire their engines, Brewer's car would not start. After a bump from the push truck Brewer's engine fired and he was able to resume his lead position. In the meantime, Justin Hobgood's machine stalled on the backstretch. His car refused to start and he had to be pushed to pit road for service. Unfortunately, he was out of gas. Since he made a pit stop he had to rejoin the field at the tail end giving up his second place position.
This placed Randy Humphrey directly behind Brewer. On the final restart Brewer nailed the gas and headed for turn one. Humphrey missed a gear and lost precious ground. Brewer made it to the checkered flag unchallenged to collect his second win in 2002. (The other came at Lonesome Pine Raceway).
Zach Brewer: "First, I thought I was going to run out of gas. I am excited that we were able to win. This turned out to be a really good deal. I am glad that everyone put this deal together and we were able to run here at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The key to winning was the jump we got on Justin at the start. I was not expecting that. I think someone got into the back of him and it gave us the chance to take the lead right there at the beginning. We did not get to come here and test. And, our car was not the best when we unloaded. But, I have a good crew and they made the right adjustments to get us where we needed to be."
Randy Humphrey: "I was trying to stay out of the mud on the inside of the track. When the green flag came out I missed a shift. All of us would have liked to run the big track. But it was fun running here on the Legends track. I have had a lot of great runs on tracks just like this one. After four years of racing in this series, we were just thrilled to have a shot at winning one. I was able to stay with Justin and Zach all night. My car was real strong getting into the corner, but I was not as good coming off. I am not sure that I had anything for Zach there at the end. It is one thing to get to somebody here, and another being able to get by them. I had already decided that I was not going to turn him just to get the win. I want to win, but I want to win it clean."
Ernie Black (Crew Chief for Jake Hobgood) commenting on what it means to win the Championship: "This Hobgood family works so hard at racing in this series. It means everything for them and that is the main thing. This is for them." (Ernie has been involved with the Hobgood family for more than ten years in the Goody's Dash Series. He worked with Will Hobgood in dirt racing prior to getting involved in this series.)
Justin Hobgood commenting on what happened to him at the end: "Run out of fuel! We were not even worried about fuel for this race. Thought we had plenty to get us all the way through." Did you have anything for Zach had you not run out of fuel? "Yea, I had something for him. Zach and I have had a lot of run-ins this year. I was beat'n on him as you could see, but I wanted to pass him clean. I kept turning him, trying to break his concentration. But, he kept doing what he needed to do. He was good all night. He was smooth, he stayed on the bottom, and he didn't make any mistakes. That is what won him the race." What does it mean to the Hobgood family to win this Championship? "I can't even describe how it feels. It is awesome, a phenomenal year for Jake. I had a great year, I am not complaining. I had three DNF's and that is what killed my chances."
Brandon Ward commenting on his runner-up finish in the Mag Clip Rookie of the Year competition: "This was a typical quarter-mile short track race. We knew there would be a lot of caution laps. We got turned around there at the beginning and then you had to deal with lapped traffic all night. I am proud of my Ram Fabrication Team and how they got us to all the races this year." What happened with you and Chuck Gafrarar there at the end? "You hate some things that happen. You get into some people and some people get into you. I am just glad that the incident between Chuck and I didn't determine the outcome for Rookie of the Year. I would have felt really bad if I had taken it from him that way."
Jake Hobgood, 2002 Goody's Dash Series Champion: "I feel great! This team has worked hard and not just this year, but the last six years to get us to this point. Before, we never seemed to catch the right breaks. This year it all went our way. We knew coming into tonight this race was going to be a real challenge. This season is a real testament to how hard our family works to do well in this series. I won three races, Justin won three races and five Bud Poles. Until tonight we had only missed completing one lap, and that was due to a part failure. Dad works so hard on our chassis and we have such a great team. We have come a long way. We have two cars and two drivers, but we are one as a team."
Will Hobgood: "This Championship feels better than when I won the Championship. It hasn't yet sunk in, but when he gets up on that stage that's when the pride will be beaming for all of us. We didn't have a pretty night tonight, but we are real satisfied."
Ricky Bryant commenting on fielding three teams with new drivers: "We are excited about each of our drivers. Chris Bristol, Larry Stigers, and Scott Haller. We didn't need a forklift to load our cars after the race, so we are real happy about the job each of the drivers did. We are building towards next year."
Chuck Gafrarar, 2002 Mag Clip Rookie of the Year: "Winning the Rookie Title was my main goal for this season. Early on we found ourselves fourth in the Championship Points and that raised our expectations. Then we blew our motor at Charlotte and things got really tough. I went to Kentucky without a ride and that is when Tom Sweeney and Wade Lopez at Highland Motorsports picked me up when I was left with no alternatives. They put me in a car and that is what helped me win this Rookie Title. I learned some lessons about part failure and driver error along the way. All in all, I am real happy."
Next Race: Daytona International Speedway in February 2003.
The Goody's Dash Series will celebrate the 2002 Season on Saturday, November 23rd in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Congratulations to Jake Hobgood, 2002 Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring CHAMPION!