Huffman's luck continues at Hardeeville. HARDEEVILLE, S.C. (April 6, 2002) - For the second race in a row, Robert Huffman, of Claremont, N.C., found lady luck ruling in his favor. In a race clearly dominated by the Series' defending Champion Cam...
Huffman's luck continues at Hardeeville.
HARDEEVILLE, S.C. (April 6, 2002) - For the second race in a row, Robert Huffman, of Claremont, N.C., found lady luck ruling in his favor. In a race clearly dominated by the Series' defending Champion Cam Strader, Huffman was in the right place at the right time to score the win.
Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring teams were impressed with their inaugural visit to the Hardeeville Motor Speedway. Up until Saturday's event, Hardeeville was known, to most race teams, as a last/first exit in South Carolina, depending on which direction you were traveling. But the circumstances surrounding this event have forever changed that interpretation. Hardeeville rolled out the red carpet for NASCAR's return to this region known as the Low country or Coastal Empire. Signs welcoming the Goody's Dash Series were placed at the city limits. The community was all a buzz about a NASCAR Touring Series event being held in their town, and the Goody's Dash Series teams appreciated the attention.
Cam Strader blistered the track with a Bud Pole time of 14.902 seconds. But in the pre-race draw the top eight drivers shuffled positions. Huffman ended up drawing the top starting position. "He is so lucky when he draws," Strader commented. Huffman just grinned from ear to ear.
On the initial start Huffman jumped out in front with Justin Hobgood and Strader nose to tail. By lap 3 they were able to put some distance between them and the rest of the field. Hobgood made a bid for the lead on lap 5, but Huffman slammed the door. On lap 9, Strader found a groove very low in turn four that gave him the edge on Hobgood as they entered the front-stretch, moving him into second place. As the leaders began to work lapped traffic Huffman and Strader were able to pull away from Hobgood. While working lap 16, Strader made that same move off of turn four to take over the lead. Strader controlled the top spot until lap 123.
The first of eight cautions came out on lap 18 when Arlene Pittman, Reece Milton, and Zach Brewer got together in turn one. On lap 27, the second caution waved as the third place car of Justin Hobgood found a patch of oil in turn four. Danny Bagwell and Brian Loftin looped their machines in order to avoid crashing into each other.
Through the mid-stages of the event, newcomer Jay Godley showed he has the talent to stay up front. Godley, from Charlotte, NC was making his first start in the series.
Following the seventh caution of the night, the green flag waved again on lap 123. Huffman got the jump on Strader and pulled into the lead. On lap 126, Strader muscled his way back by Huffman. For the next ten laps Huffman and Strader rubbed sheet metal as they dueled for the top spot. The exciting action brought the crowd to their feet, leaving no doubt that NASCAR racing loyalties run deep in the land of Hardeeville.
The final caution came on lap 148, setting up a green/white/checkered dash to the finish. Since the Goody's Dash Series events do not end under caution, this late caution extended the event beyond the scheduled 150 laps. On the final restart, Strader brought the field to the flag. But when he stepped on the accelerator his machine did not respond. Strader moved his car out of the racing groove allowing Huffman to dart by on the outside to take the lead. Jake Hobgood was able to move into second place while Strader, now back under power, was able to fight his way back to a third place finish. "It ran out of gas," exclaimed Strader. "I stepped on the gas and it just burped. Then as I drifted onto the front stretch it picked up some fuel and I was able to finish."
Jake Hobgood settled for second place. "I am mad at myself for not cleaning the tires better before that last restart. I didn't feel that I could have caught Cam. But, when he ran out of gas, I might have had a shot at Rob had my tires been cleaner. We missed the set-up. I just could not find the right way to get around this track. It is an interesting and exciting track. We need to come back to this place."
Huffman came to victory lane and provided the fans with a shower of smoke from his Goodyears and then doused everyone with Gatorade from the rooftop of his White House Apple Juice Toyota Celica. "I can't believe it! My spotter came over the radio and told me Cam must be out of gas. This was a fun race tonight. I feel bad for Cam, but I gave him one at Charlotte last year," said Huffman.
* Chuck Gafrarar started 18th and steadily worked his way to a 7th place finish to grab the top rookie of the race honors in the MAG CLIP Rookie of the Year race.
* 17 of the 23 cars that started the event were running at the end. Of those making their first appearance in the Goody's Dash Series, only Reece Milton and Jay Godley were on the sidelines. And that was due to mechanical problems. Arlene Pittman, Nick Pistone, Kevin Williams, and Charles Turner were all running at the end.
* Huffman is now two for two in 2002. He also won the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in February.