Bristol, TN (August 22, 2001) - Wilson, North Carolina native, Cam Strader, served notice early that the Wesson Cooking Oil-Peter Pan Peanut Butter Mercury Cougar was going to be a force to be reckoned with Wednesday at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Bristol, TN (August 22, 2001) - Wilson, North Carolina native, Cam Strader, served notice early that the Wesson Cooking Oil-Peter Pan Peanut Butter Mercury Cougar was going to be a force to be reckoned with Wednesday at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Strader set the quickest practice times in the first practice session, and the second quickest in the final practice session before Bud Pole Qualifying. "We worked on the set-up for qualifying in the first practice session this morning, and once we felt comfortable with it, we worked solely on the race set-up," he said.
Strader qualified his machine on the outside of the front row for the running of the Pabst Blue Ribbon 150. "Bristol is my favorite track," said Strader prior to the event. "I love the constant intensity. But you have to stay on your toes. You never just settle in here. You are always on the edge."
Brandon Ward, from Winston-Salem, N.C. passed Strader with seven laps remaining, to win the event, collecting his first victory in the Series.
When the green flag fell, pole sitter Justin Hobgood jumped out to an early lead with Strader and his brother Jake Hobgood not far behind. The trio set a blistering pace and began lapping cars on the high-banking speedway on lap 10.
The first caution came on lap 21 when Tim Nichols and Angie Wilson spun.
On the restart, Strader dove under Hobgood and held the lead for the next 20 laps. Then Mag-Klip Rookie of the Year Contender, Shane Hmiel moved into the top spot on lap 46, just as the caution flag flew for Tim Nichols spinning on the backstretch.
While under caution, Strader was the only car in the lead pack to dive onto pit road for fuel. The following lap Justin and Jake Hobgood made their respective stops.
Later in the event, Zach Brewer looped his car on the front stretch and amazingly avoided making contact with the wall. This brought out a caution and several drivers made their way to pit road for a pit stop.
On lap 92, Robert Huffman's day came to an end when his engine let go, relegating the second place points contender to a 22nd place finish.
On lap 100, Joey Miller lost his right front wheel and slammed into the turn two wall. Miller would later be released from the infield care center with no injuries.
On lap 122, Tim Nichols blew his engine, bringing out the sixth caution of the night, and evaporating the fifteen car length lead that Strader had over Hmiel.
On the restart, Strader once again pulled away. Hmiel started losing positions and then pitted on lap 130 to replace a flat tire. One by one, Strader was seeing his closest challengers in the points race encounter the gremlins of Bristol.
On lap 133, Justin Hobgood, Jake Hobgood, Roger Sawyer, David Hutto, and Eric Van Cleef were gobbled up in a melee just past the start/finish line. Van Cleef had come from his 28th starting spot to 9th place only to be collected in the crash.
The final restart came on lap 141, and Ward wasted little time in going after Strader. While working lap 142, Ward dove under Strader exiting turn four to grab the lead. While valiantly trying to regain the lead, Strader's car jumped sideways in turn four and shot down on to the apron, but Strader never broke stride and returned to the racing surface undaunted. The incident allowed Ward to pull away and collect his first Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring win.
After his second place finish, Strader was awarded the Gatorade Front Runner Award for leading the most laps. He led 78 of a possible 150, and stretched his championship points lead to 109 points over second place contender, Robert Huffman.
"My crew guys work hard to give me a car that can win every week," said Strader. "We come to these races prepared to win, and I was going for it. I knew that the only chance I had was to really drive it in deep on those last couple of laps," he continued. "I think we were better than Brandon on long runs. I nearly lost it a couple of times, but there's a lot of room here and I tried to stay calm and collect the car. So, I will be content with second place."
"I'm glad to finish a race here at Bristol. With so many other drivers having trouble, it allowed us to regain some valuable points that we've lost over the last few races. I didn't start points racing until the last two laps of the race," he concluded.
The next race for the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series will be held at the Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C. on Saturday, September 22, 2001.