Myrtle Beac report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE APRIL 20, 1997 RECORDS SMASHED AT MYRTLE BEACH A total of 33 NASCAR Goody's Dash Series drivers, including eleven, Rookie of the Year candidates and six, first, or second time visitors to the Dash Series made the...



A total of 33 NASCAR Goody's Dash Series drivers, including eleven, Rookie of the Year candidates and six, first, or second time visitors to the Dash Series made the trip to the Myrtle Beach Speedway for the Myrtle Beach 100, Saturday night. The much anticipated, high speed, close quarters racing action on the newly resurfaced Myrtle Beach Speedway, met, and exceeded all expectations as the fans were treated to, yet another, incredible race. The action got started early, bringing the fans were to their feet before they were even comfortably in their seats. Car, after car took to the track, only to obliterate the existing qualifying record. Before they were through, a total of twenty five cars had broken the record, set by Larry Caudill in August, 1990. Brian Sockwell's record shattering pole run of, 19.983 seconds at 96.922 mph., not only set a new qualifying record, but bettered the previous record by more than one full second. Later, Sockwell and outside pole sitter Mike Swaim, Jr. of High Point, NC, got the race off to a roaring start with a side by side, fender rubbing battle for the lead, right from the green. Sockwell's, Cleaver Brooks Pontiac had a subtle handling advantage in the early laps, and did, eventually, pull away from Swaim. Scott Weaver's Pontiac Sunfire also seemed to like the feel of the new asphalt. He moved quickly from his third place starting position to take the lead from Sockwell on lap eight, an advantage he held for the next 22 laps. But Sockwell continued to pressure the Shelby, NC native and forced Weaver high in turn two of the thirty first lap to regain the lead. Sockwell's pass for the lead came just moments before Steve Barnes lost the handle on his Jasper Engine Pontiac in turn two and made fairly solid contact with the inside retaining wall. "It just got away from me." said Barnes," When we hit the wall, I guess we crushed the oil cooler or something. There's oil everywhere." On the resulting restart Will Hobgood of Winnsboro, SC pulled along side Sockwell on the back stretch and took over the point position. Sockwell responded to the challenge by going door to door with Hobgood for several laps. But the Wynn's Oil/Precision Engine/Grease Monkey Pontiac was up to the challenge and pulled away from Sockwell leaving him to battle with former Series Champion Robert Huffman for second. Huffman's White House Apple Juice Pontiac had also developed a fondness for the Myrtle Beach Speedway's new surface and was a bit quicker than Sockwell through the corners. In Huffman's frantic charge to the front, the yellow number thirty seven made slight contact with the rear of Sockwell's Pontiac between turns one and two sending Sockwell's car into a long, high speed slide through turn two, eventually coming to rest against the inside guard rail, and bringing out the second caution of the event. On the restart Huffman was able to keep pace with the 1994 champion, Will Hobgood, but both Pontiacs were so evenly matched, Huffman was unable to make the move. The final caution of the race came on lap seventy five, when the number ninety three Ford, of rookie Ernie Yarborough, got crossed up exiting turn four, and backed the Probe into the front stretch wall. As the debris was cleared from the speedway, mother nature entered the event with a brief, but persistent shower. The light rain extended the caution period several laps and, ultimately, brought on a two minute red flag period to allow the teams an opportunity to clear the blinding water and oil combination from their driver's windshield. The race went back under green with only 13 laps remaining. As the drivers launched themselves into turn one, Hobgood was forced to a slightly higher line by the lapped traffic on the inside. At the completion of that lap, Hobgood's radio crackled and the voice of crew chief Dub Rountree informed him that he had picked up a couple of tenths on that lap. Hobgood went back to that slightly higher line, and began to run consistent, two to three tenths of a second faster laps than he had earlier in the race. In his own private groove, Hobgood continued to stretch out his lead and crossed the finish line more than a full second in front of Huffman. "I couldn't believe it." Hobgood exclaimed, " When I got forced up into that higher groove, the car just wanted to stick right there. I could feel the difference coming off the corners. When Dub started giving me my lap times, I started using the higher groove, and it really helped." "I saw Will running a higher line so I went up to see if it would work for me." said Huffman. "But my car didn't want to stick at all up there. In the meantime, Will was steadily pulling away. There was just nothing I could do but let him go, and try to protect my position." Sixteen cars finished on the lead lap of the Myrtle Beach 100, and only nine cars were idle in the pits as the checkers fell. Monk Gulledge in a Chevrolet, from Batesburg, SC, Rock Hill, South Carolina's B.J. Mackey, in a David Watson prepared Dodge Avenger and Ormond Beach, FL's Robert Ham rounded out the top five in Saturday's event. The series point leader going into this event, Jake Hobgood, had struggled all day, finding the right setup, but was able to salvage a twelfth place finish to keep him a close second behind the new point leader, Robert Huffman. Only eight points separate the two, as the Series heads to Lanier National Speedway, May third. Race winner, Will Hobgood, has moved up to third in points as a result of his two consecutive wins, but still, trials his son, Jake, by 63 points. Mike Swaim, Jr. and Ned Combs round out the top five in Series points. One other note of interest concerning this event; first time visitor to a NASCAR Goody's Dash Series event, Robert Fricke of Birmingham, AL., in a selfless act of generosity and sportsmanship, gave up his John Page engine to fellow competitor, Charles Powell III so that Powell could stay in the competition for the 1997 Rookie of the Year honors. Powell damaged his race engine during the afternoon practice session, and would not have been able to compete had it not been for Fricke's offer to scratch his own entry so that Powell could race. This is certainly not an unprecedented act in the world of automobile racing, but it is indicative of the of the spirit of competition, the compassion and the "family" cooperation among the participants of the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series. -30- FOR MORE INFORMATION; Contact NASCAR Public Relations, Tim Myers, at 919-552-5823.

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Drivers Robert Huffman , Brian Sockwell