Greenville-Pickens: Race report

Jake Hobgood untouchable at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Greenville, SC (July 15, 2002) - Winnsboro, SC driver, Jake Hobgood, showed the rest of the field just how much he likes the flat half-mile known as Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Hobgood ...

Jake Hobgood untouchable at Greenville-Pickens Speedway.

Greenville, SC (July 15, 2002) - Winnsboro, SC driver, Jake Hobgood, showed the rest of the field just how much he likes the flat half-mile known as Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Hobgood commented after emerging from his racecar, "I love this place!" Jake Hobgood scores his second win of the season in the Kevin Whitaker 100. The win also helped him move ahead of Robert Huffman by twenty points in the Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring Championship Points Standings.

Robert Huffman, nabbed his first Bud Pole in an event at GPS. Huffman was seeking to be more than just a bridesmaid at the track. Greenville-Pickens Speedway is one of the few tracks Huffman has not been able to collect a win. His lap time of 21.107 seconds bettered 25 other drivers for his second Bud Pole of 2002. One driver, Mike Watts ran the exact same time as Huffman. To break the tie, NASCAR reverts to where the drivers are in the Championship Points Standings. Mike Watts has two wins in Goody's Dash Series competition. He ran in the top five most of the race until being collected in two separate accidents. The second incident left his car damaged enough to require removal by the track's rollback truck.

The threat of rain was a factor in the race schedule. Track Officials decided to move the start time to the beginning of the racing program. During pre-race ceremonies, Jake Hobgood was lucky enough to draw the top starting position. With the top four drivers shuffling positions, Huffman was moved to fourth on the grid. This was just the break that Hobgood needed. Before the race, Hobgood said, "I tried a little too hard in qualifying. But, I have to tell you, my car is running very good. Maybe the best it ever has here at Greenville-Pickens."

In the early laps, Scott Weaver and Robert Huffman were able to stay with Hobgood. The complexion of the race included seven caution periods for a total of 30 laps. The longest stretch of green flag laps came during the last segment of the race. Scott Weaver commented after the race, "We expected the track to get loose. So we set up for a long run. Instead, the track got tighter and tighter. On the short runs we could not do anything with Jake. But there at the end, we were catching him. Jake was about as loose as we were tight. I could run with him, but I couldn't get around him. Had we gone green for longer periods of time I think I would have had something for him."

Some of the most intense racing came when Jake's younger brother Justin, got a lap down. On several restarts he raced Jake hard to try and get his lap back. "We got caught up in every wreck on the race track I believe," said Justin Hobgood. "I qualified tenth, and that's the entire story. When you qualify like that you have to try harder to work your way through the field. In the process I got myself into a couple altercations. I had a fender dragging. I got black flagged and lost a lap while making repairs."

Finishing third was Danny Bagwell. While everyone else seemed to have trouble passing on the tight oval, Bagwell made his way through the field more than once. Early in the race he was working Chuck Gafrarar for fifth place. Gafrarar was having brake problems and Bagwell had to spin his machine to avoid wrecking Gafrarar. "I don't know what was going on with Chuck. He seemed to slow way early heading into the first turn. I got under him, but I had to lock up the brakes to keep from hitting him. My car spun around and I lost twenty-five positions. My adrenaline kicked in and my determination to get back to where I was helped me gain all those positions back. I thought we had the car to win, but we just wore the tires out," said Bagwell.

Robert Huffman said, "We had a good racecar all night. But, we just weren't as good as them boys. We started out pretty good. But our cars handled differently in the turns. I could pick up the gas quicker in turns three and four, but they were quicker off one and two. That is what made the difference."

Rounding out the top ten were: Chuck Gafrarar, Cam Strader, Zach Brewer, Nick Pistone, Randy Humphrey, and Roger Sawyer.

Sawyer was making his first start since Daytona in February. "It was great to be back. I enjoyed racing with Randy Humphrey. It was a safe race and hopefully the fans liked it. We are not sure what is ahead for us. It all comes down to whether or not we have a sponsor. We would like to be back for more races this year. But, if not, we will go home and make plans for Daytona in 2003," said Sawyer.

Other Notes:

*Arlene Pittman, Angie Wilson, and Kelly Sutton represented the first time in NASCAR history that three ladies were in the same race. Pittman's day was not at all as she had planned. Pittman and Richard Callahan wrecked in practice, damaging both cars severely. Pittman's team scrambled to find a nosepiece for her car. On the way back to the track the nosepiece fell out of their pickup truck and shattered. With the help of some of her colleagues they were able to get the car repaired, but it never ran up to speed. Wilson has made several appearances on NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series. She returned for this event at GPS. Overheating ended her day prematurely. Sutton was involved in two altercations, which relegated her to an 18th place finish.

*Ricky Gonzalez, from South Plainsville, NJ, made his first start in the Goody's Dash Series. He survived two spins to finish 14th.

*Chuck Gafrarar ran in the top five all day. He continues to lead the Mag Clip Rookie of the Year Standings. Another of the Rookie Contenders, Nick Pistone, collected his second top ten in a row.

*Ricky Craven's NASCAR Winston Cup Jackman, Eric Wilson, finished in 11th place.

*Andy Winstead, from Columbia, SC, returned to the series after running a limited number of races a few years ago. Winstead is a fighter pilot. Winstead's presence adds to the diversity in NASCAR racing. He is a Native American.

*Present in victory lane was "Nana Hobgood." She is the grandmother of Jake and Justin. She donned the racing hat made famous by the late "Grandpa Hobgood." Jake dedicated his win to her.

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Ricky Craven , Cam Strader , Kelly Sutton , Angie Wilson , Robert Huffman , Justin Hobgood