Lowes: Race report

Robert Huffman holds off Justin Hobgood to claim 38th career victory. Concord, NC (May 23, 2002) - Robert Huffman, of Claremont, NC, claimed yet another speedway win in his White House Apple Juice/TRD Toyota. Huffman has won the last five...

Robert Huffman holds off Justin Hobgood to claim 38th career victory.

Concord, NC (May 23, 2002) - Robert Huffman, of Claremont, NC, claimed yet another speedway win in his White House Apple Juice/TRD Toyota. Huffman has won the last five Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring speedway races. By winning the Tom Johnson Camping/EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts "100" at Lowes Motor Speedway, and finishing ahead of Jake Hobgood he has also reclaimed the lead in the 2002 Championship Point Standings.

"We did not qualify the car well. But I just tried to put myself in a position to win," said Huffman in victory lane. And put himself in position he did. The last few laps his Toyota Celica appeared three times as wide, as he blocked a charging pack, led by Justin Hobgood and Johnny Chapman.

At race time (9 pm), the conditions at Lowes Motor Speedway were perfect. The temperature was in the high 60's. With clear skies and a nearly full moon, the atmosphere at race time was enchanting indeed. Winston Cup Qualifying had just completed and the Goody's Dash Series teams moved their cars onto the starting grid.

The green flag was displayed and the race was on. Bud Pole Winner, Justin Hobgood led the field into turn one, followed by Randy Humphrey. The top 8 quickly moved into single file with the top 5 breaking away by lap 4. Robert Huffman wasted no time in his effort to gain positions. He moved to the inside of Jake Hobgood, who was running in 6th place. (Huffman started 9th.) As they were coming through the dogleg Hobgood started to move to the inside lane, touching the right front of Huffman. As the two cars met, Hobgood reacted quickly and saved his car from getting up on two wheels. Disaster was averted and both drivers never missed a beat.

While the leaders remained in single-file, those behind them were racing hard for position. The first of five cautions came out on lap 12 when Doc Brewer lost the handle on his car. Brewer, who started third, was running with the leaders when his car lost traction in turn four. It looped around and hit the wall, then spun down onto the apron. Smoke from his tires blocked the view of Scott Weaver, causing Weaver to spin. Brewer re-fired his machine but was unable to limp back to pit road. Weaver was able to continue, after he visited pit road to check his tires.

On the restart (lap 19) Justin Hobgood was leading Randy Humphrey, Johnny Chapman, Danny Bagwell, Robert Huffman, with Cam Strader in 6th place. David Hutto restarted as the first car one lap down. (Hutto was black-flagged on the initial start for passing to the left before the start/finish line. The mandatory visit to pit road caused him to lose a lap.)

The second caution came on lap 20 with an accident that collected several cars. The cars were all stacked together after having just received the green flag. As the entered the corner J. R. Robbs and Roger Moser were headed for the same spot on the track. They touched and set off a chain reaction that involved the machines of Brian Loftin, Junior Miller, Maxie Bush, and Danny Snell. Cars were scattered from one side of the track to the other causing the rest of the field to carefully snake their way through the maze of battered racecars. John Whaley literally drove from the bottom of the track all the way up to the wall and then back to the bottom to avoid contact with crashing cars.

While the leaders remained on the track, Huffman took the opportunity to dive onto pit road for fuel. On the restart the top ten were: Justin Hobgood, Randy Humphrey, Danny Bagwell, Johnny Chapman, Cam Strader, Jake Hobgood, Mickey York, Ned Combs, Zach Brewer, and Brandon Ward. A few laps later Brandon Ward's machine slowed quickly as he encountered a mechanical problem. He took his car to pit road. On lap 30, Dan Shaver's car blew a right side tire and sent him into the wall, bringing out the yellow flag. This brought the leaders to pit road for fuel. The top three, Justin Hobgood, Randy Humphrey, and Danny Bagwell entered their pit stalls and their crews quickly went to work. Hobgood's stop was 6.9 seconds. Humphrey's was 7.0 seconds, and Bagwell's stop lasted 9.4 seconds. They rejoined the field in 7th, 8th, and 10th place respectively. Since Huffman had visited pit road during the last caution period, he inherited the lead.

The battle ensued. Eric Wilson, who also serves as jackman for Winston Cup driver Ricky Craven, went after Huffman for the lead. He was able to hold the top spot for two laps. Huffman closed in on Wilson and took the air off of his spoiler. Wilson's car looped around three times as he spun down the banking. "I was fighting a loose condition for several laps," stated Wilson. "It finally just snapped around on me."

The final caution came out when Tommy Spangler clipped the wall exiting turn four. This set the stage for a wild dash for the cash. The top runners chased hard after Huffman while having to fight among themselves for position. A battle that, at one point, took the field three wide in the dogleg. Strader tried for the top spot. Justin Hobgood was trying to get by Huffman. Bagwell and Chapman fought side-by-side touching several times. Huffman refused to give any room to Hobgood. "He took me to the bottom in turn one," said Hobgood. "I bumped him to let him know I was there. He just stayed steady and held on to his car." Chapman and Hobgood talked for a long time after the race, rehashing what they might have done differently to get by Huffman. All the while Huffman was in victory lane rejoicing over his 38th career victory in Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring competition.

The Tom Johnson Camping/EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts "100" at Lowes Motor Speedway is slated for a tape-delayed broadcast on Speed Channel. Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds, Mike Joy host the telecast. With Steve Brynes and Matt Yokum covering pit road. Check your local listing or log on to NASCAR.com/GoodysDashSeries for the air date announcement.

Top 10 Finishers: 1. Robert Huffman, 2. Justin Hobgood, 3. Johnny Chapman, 4. Danny Bagwell, 5. Cam Strader, 6. Zach Brewer, 7. Scott Weaver, 8. Ned Combs, 9. Randy Humphrey, 10. Jake Hobgood.

Bud Pole Winner was Justin Hobgood with an average speed of 153.331 mph. Mag Clip Rookie of the Race was Brian Loftin. The Gatorade Front Runner was Robert Huffman, who led 35 out of 68 laps.

Next race: June 15, 2002 at the Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, KY. The Goody's Dash Series will be featured along with the Hills Bros. All Pro, NASCAR Touring Series, and the NASCAR Busch Series.

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Ricky Craven , Cam Strader , Dan Shaver , Junior Miller , Robert Huffman , Johnny Chapman , Justin Hobgood