Full moon and Bristol give fans their money's worth; Scott Weaver declared winner after post race penalties BRISTOL, TN (August 25, 2002) - Bristol Motor Speedway lived up to its reputation by delivering a race filled with plenty of action, ...
Full moon and Bristol give fans their money's worth; Scott Weaver declared winner after post race penalties
BRISTOL, TN (August 25, 2002) - Bristol Motor Speedway lived up to its reputation by delivering a race filled with plenty of action, last Wednesday night in the Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring Pabst Blue Ribbon "150."
Take NASCAR's fastest half-mile speedway, twenty-eight fierce competitors, a tight battle for the 2002 Championship Title, combine that with a pinch of pressure to perform, a dash of determination, and one full moon. What is the result? Read on.
Thirty-seven Goody's Dash Series teams unloaded their cars on Wednesday morning. Thirty-seven teams worked feverishly to fine tune their race machines with the hope of filling one of the twenty-eight starting positions available for one of the biggest events of the year.
Jake Hobgood came into the race with an 89-point advantage over Robert Huffman in the 2002 title chase. Hobgood has been the most consistent driver this year. He has 3 wins, has finished second three times, and outside the top ten only once (South Boston). A Hobgood has never won at Bristol, and the family wanted it bad.
Robert Huffman encountered engine problems at Myrtle Beach, which led to the 89-point deficit. He felt that he needed to win to have any chance of securing his fifth series' title.
The rest of the drivers, well they had many of their own obvious reasons for faring well at Bristol.
The racing groove at Bristol was one car wide, and whoever could stay on the bottom had a clear advantage. As the laps clicked away, there were cars that continued to handle well enough to protect the bottom. With drivers pitting at different intervals, there were a lot of faster cars scrambling to get by slower traffic in order to position themselves for the best finish possible.
There were eight caution periods brought on by incidents that tested the patience of most.
While working lap 45, Zach Brewer and Angie Wilson got together in turn four. Wilson did all that she could to get her car down out of the racing groove, but her car would not respond. It ended up in the path of Cam Strader, who was running in second place at the time.
Another multi-car incident took place on lap 118. Chuck Gafrarar and Randy Humphrey touched and slammed into the wall in turn one. As they slid down the banking, Humphrey's car blocked the escape route for Jason York. York's car t-boned Humphrey and also collected Brian Loftin. Gafrarar and Loftin are two of the drivers vying for the Mag Clip Rookie of the Year Award. All the drivers exited without sustaining injury.
With ten laps to go, Jake Hobgood was in the lead followed by Johnny Chapman, Robert Huffman, last year's winner Brandon Ward, Scott Weaver, Joey Miller, Keith Roggen, Zach Brewer, Reece Milton, and Ned Combs.
Huffman and Chapman were in a tight battle for the second spot. The two touched in turn two causing Chapman to lose traction and spin down onto the apron, bringing out the caution. This tightened the field up with just four laps remaining.
Jake Hobgood led the field to the final green flag. He appeared to be well on his way to the win when Huffman closed up on his rear bumper. They battled hard for the final two laps. As both cars entered turn four Huffman tapped the rear bumper of Hobgood. Hobgood's car wiggled and then the two cars touched a second time, causing Hobgood to spin. Huffman took the checkered flag and went to victory lane.
In typical Bristol fashion the crowd voiced its opinion of the outcome. Hobgood made his way across the finish line and back around to turn four, where he exited the car and looked to the crowd for encouragement.
After the race NASCAR made the decision to penalize Huffman, which meant that Scott Weaver was declared the winner. On Thursday, the following statement was released:
Scott Weaver, of Shelby, N.C., was declared the winner of Wednesday's Pabst Blue Ribbon 150 Goody's Dash Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway. Robert Huffman, of Claremont, N.C., crossed the finish line first, ahead of Weaver, but a last lap incident between Huffman and Jake Hobgood prompted further review by NASCAR Touring officials. Huffman was assessed a time penalty, placing Huffman ninth in the amended race results. Additional penalties from this and other incidents are pending.
In an interview, Jake Hobgood expressed his thoughts about Wednesday's outcome. "We had a great car and I thought the race was in our pocket. When that last caution came out, I knew Rob would be battling me hard. He was really fast all night. All I could do was protect that bottom groove. Really, I was okay with the first nudge. My car bobbled a bit and I was able to hold on to it. But, we touched again and then I lost it. I am disappointed. To be that close to any win. But, this was Bristol. Rob called me, and we talked things through. I have accepted his explanation. We are competitors and we have to put that behind us. We are the ones behind the wheel. Really, only we know what happened out there, from a driver's perspective. Driver to driver, we have dealt with the issue and now we are ready to head to Pittsburgh."
Robert Huffman also shared his thoughts. "When you are in the driver's seat you make split second decisions. There are things that go on that no one else can see the same as you would from inside the racecar. We are running so close and so fast at Bristol. Each driver enters and exits the turns according to how their car is handling or by whether they are protecting a position or trying to gain a position. Our cars were running faster, there at the end, than the Cup cars were running at the end of their race. And, our cars are not as stable as the bigger cars. Since our cars are smaller, we do not use the brakes to slow down in the corners. So, each driver has his point where he gets off and get on the gas. Coming to the checkered flag I was going for the position. I made a split-second decision. Obviously, it was the wrong one. I did not mean to spin Jake. I expected his car to slide up the groove and open the bottom lane. Instead he gathered it up and was right there on the bottom. He made a great save. I feel bad about what happened, and I called him to let him know how bad I felt about it."
Scott Weaver collected his first win of 2002. "I don't like to take them this way, but I have been on the other side of this fence too. So, you take them anyway you can get them," said Weaver.
Out of respect for Weaver's statistics in 2002. He has been knocking on the door for most of the season. This time the door opened for him, and he is most deserving of the prize that was waiting for him.
Rounding out the top ten were Keith Roggen, Brandon Ward, Zach Brewer, Johnny Chapman, Joey Miller, Reece Milton, Jake Hobgood, Robert Huffman, and Eric Wilson.
Brandon Ward was the Mag Clip Rookie of the Race. Jake Hobgood was the Gatorade Front Runner.