Saturday night, the legendary .363 mile Hickory Motor Speedway, Hickory, NC., with an unseasonable chill to the air, racing fans bundled up, awaiting the start of the NASCAR Goody's Dash Touring Series Jim Cook Chevrolet 125 presented by Galaxy ...
Saturday night, the legendary .363 mile Hickory Motor Speedway, Hickory, NC., with an unseasonable chill to the air, racing fans bundled up, awaiting the start of the NASCAR Goody's Dash Touring Series Jim Cook Chevrolet 125 presented by Galaxy Foods/Pure Wesson Oil racing extravaganza. As the temperatures in the viewing stands continued to drop, it didn't take long for "heated action" to erupt on the track.
Rock Hill's B.J. Mackey, driver of the #84 Van Camp's/ Horton Homes Pontiac and winner of last years event at Hickory, took the green flag from his outside pole starting position and almost immediately dispatched the pole position #17 car driven by Mike Watts. Watts' Mercury was no match for Mackey's Pontiac, as the young Mackey took the point in the middle of turns one and two on the first lap. Mackey set a blistering pace opening a five car lead over Jimmy Britts, who had wasted little time taking over the second place spot. The next 82 laps belonged to Mackey as he dominated the field, sometimes opening as much as a 20 car lead. Mackey at times appeared to be toying with the field, slowing his pace and then exploding forward with another burst of speed. "I was surprised by how quickly and how easily I jumped out front at the beginning of the race," stated Mackey. "I knew I had a fast car from our testing session, but this was too easy. My spotter kept telling me to take it easy, save the car. So I would ease off a little, until I started to get a little pressure from Jimmy (Britts), then I would get back into it and just pull away."
Easy it wasn't! On lap five the first caution flag flew when Steven Barfield got loose down the front strait and collected the Toyota of Eric Van Cleff, sending the Toyota into a wild, spectacular end-over-end crash that came to rest in turn one. As Van Cleef climbed uninjured from his mangled car, the field was regrouping for a re-start. When the green waved, Mackey again showed his dominance as he quickly moved away from the field and on lap 12 caught the tail end of the field and began putting cars a lap down. Thirteen caution laps between laps 24 and 43 kept the field closely packed, with Mackey at the front followed by Britts. Once flat out racing resumed, Mackey continued his strong showing opening huge leads.
But Jimmy Britts, driver of the #92 NAPA Autoparts/Southern Speed/Horsepower by Hedrick Pontiac, had his own ideas for the outcome of the race. "B.J. (Mackey) was unbelievably strong at the first of the race but I knew that if I could stay close, I would be ok," stated Britts. On lap 83 he finally chased Mackey's Pontiac down and put the #92 Pontiac in the lead for the remainder of the evening. Stated Mackey, "I knew I was in trouble when the handling on the car began to go away. We brought a new car here and this was the first time that we have put it on the track. It got really tight as the race went on and it eventually developed such a severe push, that made it extremely difficult to keep the car low into the turns. I didn't have power steering on the car and by the end of the race, I was exhausted."
The remaining 42 laps belonged to Britts. When points leader and three time series champion Robert Huffman finally moved around Mackey, Britts knew he was in for a race. "B.J.'s (Mackey) tires must have went away because he faded pretty fast once I got around him, Said Britts. "Then I saw Robert making his move around B.J. Robert (Huffman) has so many laps at this track but I knew he would race me clean. I just had to keep him from passing me on the low side in the corners. We had a couple of scares near the end of the race and I knew who was behind me," said Britts.
Britts' lead disappeared when on lap 111 the Jesse Wade machine spun in turn four. Huffman was now in a good position to make a run at winning his fifth race of the season, however Britts had a good enough start to keep Huffman at bay. A second chance for Huffman came a few laps later when Johnny Chapman made a move on Mackey for third place. Chapman put his car on the low side of turn four but close racing between his car and that of Strader and Sawyer saw Chapman get tagged in the rear.
As Chapman struggle to regain control of his car, he got smacked again sending the Old Milwaukee Non Alcoholic Pontiac into the outside retaining wall on the front strait. "I had the inside spot," said Chapman when the race was over. "I didn't get hit once, I got tagged twice." When the racing action resumed, Britts got a clean restart and scampered to his third career victory. Finishing behind Britts was Robert Huffman, followed by Roger Sawyer who barely squeaked by Mackey at the finish line by only inches, Mackey was forth and Cam Strader round out the top five. The remaining top ten were Keith Roggen, Maxie Bush, Ricky Bryant, Scott Weaver and Bobby Dayton. Only nine of the 28 starting cars finished on the lead lap.
Mackey won his second Gatorade "Frontrunner" Award by leading the most laps. "We have a little work to do before we go to Jacksonville, NC on October 7th for our second visit this year to Coastal Plains Speedway. We need to find out why our new car got so tight toward the end of the race. This is sort of new wrinkle for us. Normally we get a little loose by the end of the race," mused Mackey from the garage area after the race. "But we will work it out and be ready for another shot at victory lane. We've won 2 races this year and I would like to move up in the points. I don't believe we can catch Robert (Huffman) but a chance at second in the points standing is still possible. We need to do this for Van Camp's and Horton Homes. They have been extremely good to us this year and they deserve the rewards," stated Mackey.
The next event for the NASCAR Goody's Dash Touring Series will be Saturday, October 7, 2000 at Coastal Plains Speedway in Jacksonville, NC.
By: Willard Brown, Team Manager, Daly Racing,LLC