JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (September 29, 2001) - Cam Strader, of Wilson, N.C., came to Coastal Plains Raceway with the intent of padding his points lead in the 2001 Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring Championship. Strader qualified in the fifth starting...
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (September 29, 2001) - Cam Strader, of Wilson, N.C., came to Coastal Plains Raceway with the intent of padding his points lead in the 2001 Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring Championship. Strader qualified in the fifth starting position and stayed close to the front for the entire race. "We are in championship mode, which calls for being a bit more conservative, focusing on points and finishing races," said Barry Owens, crew chief for Strader. "Coastal Plains is where we won our last race, earlier this year. It has been good to us," commented Strader.
The usual pre-race draw shuffled the top six positions. Jake Hobgood won the Bud Pole Award with a speed of 88.506 mph, but drew the 3rd starting spot. Jimmy Britts drew the pole. Rookie driver, Shane Hmiel moved from 3rd to 2nd. Hmiel got a great jump at the start and took the lead right from the green flag. Caution came early and often during the running of the Toyota NASCAR Goody's Dash "150" presented by Wesson Cooking Oil and Peter Pan Peanut Butter. The first two yellow flags came in the first ten laps. The third caution came out on lap 11 when the machines of Wayne Edwards, Beau Milo, and Tim Nichols touched while the field was bunched on the restart. The fourth caution came on lap 24 when Matt Johnson looped his car in turn three. Three of the drivers in the top five dashed onto pit road for fuel. They included Strader, Britts, and Jake Hobgood. Justin Hobgood came to pit road the second time by. The choice to stop early for fuel would prove to be a major factor in the outcome of the event.
Through the first 140 of the scheduled 150 laps, Hmiel was too strong for anyone to contend with. The race seemed to be for second place on back. The Hobgoods, Roger Sawyer, Strader, Mike Conover, Britts, Joey Miller, and Scott Weaver jockeyed for the top five spots for the entire event. There would be more cautions and other pits stop for fuel by everyone, but the race leader Shane Hmiel. On lap 140, Hmiel paid the price when he ran out of fuel. "Our strategy was to pit for fuel later in the race. On lap 24 when the Hobgoods and the other guys from 2nd on back ducked down pit road we were kinda stuck. At the time we were not even thinking about pitting. I was looking up in the mirror and next thing I knew they turned down pit road and it was too late for me, and I was just stuck. We just weren't ready for them to pit so early. We started wondering if we could go all the way, because we were faced with giving up positions if we pitted later. Tonight we came up just a little bit short," said Hmiel.
Other incidents included several of the front runners. While working lap 83 Jake Hobgood and Jimmy Britts banged sides on the front stretch. Britts' car went sideways and he made a miraculous save. He never let off and entered turn one back in front of Hobgood. then the two touched again the very next lap. Britts spun and Hobgood continued to hold on to his spot. He finished in second place.
The final caution came on lap 144. Larry Caudill and Tim Nichols spin. Joey Miller ran out of room and was collected in the incident. Miller is from nearby Wilmington and considers Coastal Plains his home track. Said Miller, "My power steering went out on the last restart and I saw some guys wrecking in front of me. I couldn't turn down low. Unfortunately they ended up in the high groove, right where I was headed.
Robert Huffman finished in third place and Scott Weaver came home fourth. Weaver shared his thoughts about the race. "It was an exciting race, that is for sure. There was a lot of action out there. We had a good race car tonight, but there were some better than us. Some had some bad luck, we had some good luck, and that is what you have to have on these short tracks. I had a birdseye view of a lot of the action tonight. I am glad that I wasn't involved. Tempers flare on these short tracks, and I know for a fact that some things were not intentional but they were taken that way. Each person has their own perspective and interprets it the way they see it. These guys will cool off and be alright."
Cam Strader's perspective was obvious. "I am just pumped up that this win helps us pad our lead a little bit. But, I am still playing it cautious 'cause it is not over until the checkered flag waves at Nashville." Then Strader added, "With as excited as we are, you still have to stop and remember those who suffered in the tragedies in New York. I want to dedicate this win to them."