Kentucky: Race report

Jake Hobgood nabs first career super speedway win at Kentucky Speedway. SPARTA, KY (June 17, 2002) - Jake Hobgood of Winnsboro, SC made his way to victory lane in Sunday's 700 WLW 100-mile event at Kentucky Speedway. It was a fitting climax to a...

Jake Hobgood nabs first career super speedway win at Kentucky Speedway.

SPARTA, KY (June 17, 2002) - Jake Hobgood of Winnsboro, SC made his way to victory lane in Sunday's 700 WLW 100-mile event at Kentucky Speedway. It was a fitting climax to a lengthened weekend due to the poor timing of rain showers.

The race weekend at Kentucky Speedway was slated as a triple-header. The Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring was scheduled along with the Hills Bros. All-Pro Series and NASCAR Busch Series. Rain Showers on Friday night pushed the Hills Bros. All-Pro Series race onto Saturday's schedule, causing the cancellation of Bud Pole Qualifying for the Goody's Dash Series. The field was then set by car owner points. The weather was absolutely gorgeous right up until lap 86 of the NASCAR Busch Series event. Without warning the sky sprung a leak and drenched the 70,000 plus fans in attendance, and needless to say the track. A second downpour ruined any chance of getting the events in on Saturday night.

On Sunday, following the completion of the Busch Series race, the green flag waved for the Goody's Dash Series. Pole sitter, Robert Huffman and Jake Hobgood battled side-by-side through the first lap then seem content to run single-file. Then on lap two Zach Brewer, followed by Justin Hobgood dove past Jake Hobgood moving him back to fourth. Very strong in the early going were Brian Loftin, Scott Weaver, Chuck Gafrarar, Cam Strader, and Kelly Sutton. The only time Huffman was able to pull away was when the rest of the lead pack started racing for position. As soon as they would settle down, they could pull right back up to Huffman's bumper. But, it became clear that the leader had a clear advantage as Jake Hobgood pointed out, "The leader could protect the preferred line. He may not be the best car, but if you could run that preferred line, it forced the other cars to check-up in the corners."

Greg Miller was one of the first cars to make his stop for fuel, pitting early on lap 28. Brian Loftin and Vince Whitmire made their stop on lap 38. Loftin's crew spend extra time checking his tires. Huffman and Ned Combs had just returned to the track after completing their stops, along with Brandon Ward, Gary Moore, Mike Watts, and the Hobgood Brothers. Justin Hobgood was scored as the leader of laps 45-47. Jake Hobgood was the first off of pit road and he became the leader on lap 48. Unfortunately Loftin became the only caution in the race. He cut down a tire and tagged the wall in turn two on lap 48. While under caution, Huffman returned to pit road to replace a right rear tire.

When racing resumed on lap 59, Jake Hobgood and Cam Strader separated themselves from the pack, with Ned Combs and Chuck Gafrarar not too far behind. Huffman, Brewer, Brandon Ward, Scott Krehling, and Mike Watts battled hard for the 5-9th positions. Huffman broke away and went after the 4th place car of Gafrarar. On lap 61, Gafrarar's machine slid high allowing Huffman to scoot underneath. With five laps to go, 58 year old Ned Combs starting putting the moves on the race leader, Jake Hobgood. Combs got a strong run down the front stretch getting up alongside Hobgood heading into one. Hobgood, protecting that preferred groove held him off. But this exchange allowed Huffman to close up. On the next lap, they went three wide heading into one. Huffman on the inside, Combs on the outside, and the leader sandwiched in between. Combs was very strong yet unable to beat Hobgood in the center of the turn. "I had a fast car, said Combs. If I had been able to get by Jake they would never have caught me. I was real good off of four and into turn one. But, the car would bog down between one and two. I just couldn't complete the pass."

At the white flag the top six cars were on bunched together, running two and three wide into turn one. "When I saw Rob and Ned coming after me I knew all that I could do was protect that preferred groove and hope for the best," said Hobgood. Huffman made one last effort coming to the stripe. Hobgood went high to block Combs and then dove low to block Huffman for the win. "I don't know what we could have done differently there at the end, " commented Huffman. "I knew we were being too hard on right side tires early in the race. I just didn't have enough to get by Jake. I am happy for him and we have a great points race going on here."

We had a really great race car today," expressed Hobgood. "This track has a lot of room to race. It has grip high and low, it doesn't matter where you want to run. I just tried to keep Rob and Ned side-by-side behind me. That was my best chance of winning the race. We have been close so many times this year. That fact was heavy on my mind those last few laps. Early in the race when I was behind other cars, my car had an aero-push. The front end didn't want to turn. But, out in front the car was so balanced and free up off the corners. It was just a great day," Hobgood says with an elated giggle.

Rounding out the top then were: Huffman, Combs, Gafrarar, Strader, Watts, Brewer, Ward, Krehling, and Justin Hobgood.

Other Notes:

*Jake Hobgood regains the lead in the Goody's Dash Series Championship Points Standings. He leads by 5 points over Robert Huffman.

*Chuck Gafrarar, leads the Mag Clip Rookie of the Year race. He showed up at Kentucky Speedway without a ride. During practice, Highlands Motorsports offered him the wheel of the #52 car. "We blew our only motor at Lowes a couple weeks ago. Our #26 car just wasn't ready. We want to stay in the hunt for this rookie deal. I do not know for sure what will happen after this week. After all that we have been through, I am happy to once again be the top rookie of the race," said Gafrarar.

*Arlene Pittman had a good run going until a faulty fuel pump took her behind the wall for 8 laps. Mike Watts scored his best finish in a long time. (Watts' only win came in the inaugural race at Daytona in 1979.) Scott Krehling finished a career high 9th place.

Next Race: Memphis Motorsports Park. Saturday, June 22, 2002. This event will be in conjunction with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Cam Strader , Kelly Sutton , Robert Huffman , Justin Hobgood , Gary Moore