New River Valley race report

Huffman Gives Toyota First Nascar Short Track Victory At New River Valley Speedway. RADFORD, VA (August 4, 2001) - Robert Huffman, of Claremont, N.C., collected his third win of the 2001 Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring Season at New River ...

Huffman Gives Toyota First Nascar Short Track Victory At New River Valley Speedway.

RADFORD, VA (August 4, 2001) - Robert Huffman, of Claremont, N.C., collected his third win of the 2001 Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring Season at New River Valley Speedway. Huffman won the Bud Pole Award with a time of 16.766 seconds (85.888 mph).

The pre-race draw shuffled the top six positions giving Mag-Klip Rookie of the Year Contender Shane Hmiel the choice starting position. Justin Hobgood started the race on the outside of the front row. Huffman started the race in third. On the initial start Hmiel and Hobgood raced side by side for the first six laps. On lap seven Huffman was pressing Hmiel hard enabling him to finally make the pass on Hobgood.

Justin Hobgood continued to hold is own in the outside groove while the rest of the field went single file. "I was not stuck on the outside, that is where my car worked best. I discovered that during practice and so that is where I chose to run," said Hobgood. Even though Hobgood would later encounter mechanical problems, the example he set in the early going would later be a factor in the outcome of the event.

The first of six caution periods came on lap 12 when Mike Huey and Robert Luckadoo got together on the backstretch. Huey, of Chester, S.C. was making his first series appearance. This was Luckadoo's first race after a two year hiatus.

The second caution was a result of a blown motor in Roger Sawyer's machine. Up to this point Sawyer had led the category for "Most Laps Completed," which in fact earned him the Goody's Headache Powder Halfway Consistency Award of $5000. This award is paid annually following the event which marks the halfway point in the season. Sawyer had a consistency rating of over 99 percent, having completed all but four laps run.

Hmiel continued to show the way during the early stages of the event, holding off a hard charging lead pack which included Huffman and Jimmy Britts. While working the lapped car of Mike Huey, Hmiel and Huey bumped sending Hmiel into a slide coming off turn four. Huffman and Britts checked up to avoid wrecking Hmiel. Hmiel never lost forward motion and was able to correct his car and continue in the lead. Caution came out just one lap later and most of the leaders made pit stops. Hmiel came to pit road and his crew noticed a small fire under the hood. Though it was quickly extinguished and he tried to continue it marked the end of his day. "We had a problem with our fuel pump. It is disappointing, we had a great car today," said Hmiel.

Almost unnoticed at this point in the event was that Cam Strader, Tim Nichols, and Scott Weaver had made pit stops during an earlier caution. "We gambled and it paid off," said Weaver. Strader added, "My crew chief, Barry Owen, made that call for us. We made the call hoping to gain track position knowing Huffman and the other leaders would have to pit later on." On the restart Strader, Weaver, and Nichols inherited the top three positions on the track.

Huffman wasted no time in making his presence known. He charged hard on every lap passing cars on the outside. Scott Stephens, New River Valley Speedway announcer commented, "Huffman is making his passes on the outside, something we do not see too often here at New River." On lap 103 Huffman passed Strader for the lead and would never look back.

In victory lane, Huffman climbed from his car and performed a cart wheel across the track. "It feels so good to return to victory lane at a short track. My car owner told me that it has been so long since we had a short track victory, that when it happens again she wanted me to do a cart wheel." (Just so happens that his car owner is also his wife.)

Jake Hobgood came in second, Cam Strader third, Scott Weaver fourth, and Virgina driver Tim Nichols rounded out the top five. Shane Hmiel won the Gatorade Front Runner Award. Tim Nichols was the MAG-KLIP Rookie of the Race.

-nascar/gds-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Shane Hmiel , Cam Strader , Robert Huffman , Justin Hobgood