Justin Hobgood beats his brother by whisker at Orange County Speedway. ROUGEMONT, NC (April 29, 2002) - Justin Hobgood, of Winnsboro, SC, came to Orange County Speedway sporting a new goatee. He took his Tracker Boats/Holiday Kamper and Boats ...
Justin Hobgood beats his brother by whisker at Orange County Speedway.
ROUGEMONT, NC (April 29, 2002) - Justin Hobgood, of Winnsboro, SC, came to Orange County Speedway sporting a new goatee. He took his Tracker Boats/Holiday Kamper and Boats Pontiac to victory lane Saturday night in the Orange County "150" Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring event at Orange County Speedway. However, his path to victory was not clear until the last turn of the final lap, and it was just a whisker that made the difference.
Early in the event, all anyone could do was try and chase down David Hutto. A Rock Hill, SC native, Hutto has returned to the series on a full-time basis for the first time since he claimed the 1995 Goody's Dash Series Championship. Hutto put his Pennzoil/National Machine Fabricators Pontiac on the Bud Pole with a speed 92.352 mph, which was 1.2 mph faster than the outside pole sitter. Hutto was quick to give credit to his crew for a great chassis setup, also mentioning that his 1995 Championship Crew Chief, Richard Mash, was there to help his effort. "Anytime Richard shows up at the race track you can figure on a two-tenths minimum gain in lap times," stated car owner, Jimmy Hutto. "Richard Mash is the best."
During the pre-race draw, Hutto randomly selected the number 4. As a result the top four qualifiers drew for their starting positions. Hutto was lucky enough to draw the number one to retain his spot on the pole. The others in the top four, Keith Roggen, Scott Weaver, and Cam Strader shuffled positions.
At the drop of the green flag Weaver battled Hutto side by side until turn four, with Hutto taking the lead at the line. Hutto led the first 67 laps of the event, giving up the lead when he pitted for fuel during the fourth caution period. There were seven caution flags, for a total of 41 laps. After getting off to a great start, Scott Weaver lost a fan belt early and was the first car out of the event. By lap 69 all the cars had made their stop for fuel. David Hutto was among the last of the leaders to pit and this repositioned him in the middle of the pack. On the restart the Hobgood brothers took control of the race. Justin had inherited the lead and Jake was in second.
While working lap 80, Cam Strader went low in turn three to pass Kelly "Girl" Sutton. As the two entered the front stretch Strader's car washed up the track and caught the right front of Sutton's machine. Strader's car turned hard right straight into the wall. His left side tires grabbed the track and caused his car to begin barrel rolling. He flipped six times and then landed on his wheels. Strader and Sutton both climbed from their cars without injury. "My Wesson Cooking Oil Peter Pan Mercury was a really good car tonight. I was being too aggressive trying to pass Kelly. She had a good car and was running well. I feel bad for both of us," Strader commented. (Strader and Sutton are teammates.) Reece Milton, who was near the action said, "As I passed by Cam all I saw was his two big white eyes!" Ironically, Strader was in the same spot as Sutton in the 2001 race at Orange County Speedway. Then it was Scott Weaver who was making the same pass on Strader. Weaver tumbled eleven times.
Following a short Red Flag condition, to clear the track, the race was restarted on lap 87. Those on the lead lap included Justin Hobgood, Jake Hobgood, Zach Brewer, Reece Milton, Randy Humphrey, Tim Nichols, Gary Moore, David Hutto, Robert Huffman, Chuck Gafrarar, Jay Godley, and Mike McConnell. Twenty of the twenty-seven cars that started the event were still on the track.
On Lap 90, Jake Hobgood passed Justin for the lead. On lap 111, five cars got together at the start/finish line. Collected in the fray were the machines of Nichols, Godley, Milton, Moore, McConnell, and the lapped car of Brandon Ward. Only Moore, Ward, and McConnell were able to continue.
On the final restart (Lap 122), it was the Hobgoods, Brewer, Hutto, Humphrey, and Huffman left on the lead lap to duke it out for the win.
There was plenty of racing action. As the Hobgoods battled for the lead, the other drivers in the top six were each having a battle of their own. Hutto was trying to take third away from Brewer, while Huffman was trying to get by Humphrey for fifth place.
On the final lap, Jake Hobgood received the white flag with Justin Hobgood and David Hutto in tow. Entering turn three, Hutto made a bold move by diving underneath Justin. He then tried to clear Jake as well. A lapped car interrupted the move and Hutto's car moved up the banking into the rear of the leader's car. While both drivers were regaining their composure, Justin Hobgood made a heads up move on the inside. As they entered the front stretch Justin's momentum carried him alongside Jake and he literally beat him by a whisker at the line. Hutto came to the line in third, with Brewer, Huffman, and Humphrey rounding out the top six.
In post race interviews, Jake Hobgood wasn't even sure where he finished. He thought that he was in third place, behind Hutto. "Everything happened so fast. I am frustrated with what happened on the last lap. I know that David was just trying to get a win. You mean I finished second? Wow! Well, we have to consider the points, and that is better than third," said Jake Hobgood.
David Hutto turned a lot of heads with his qualifying speed. Other drivers had noticed that he was running an unusually low line in practice. "I realized during the race that I could not run that low. It made my tires get way too hot. With that last caution flag, it allowed my tires to cool down and give me what I needed to make a run at the front," Hutto explained.
In victory lane Justin Hobgood was spraying everyone with champagne. "My car was so loose. Jake's car was much better than mine. When I saw David going after Jake, I knew what was going to happen. So I just dove to the bottom and stood on the gas."
OTHER NOTES OF INTEREST:
* Zach Brewer scored his first top five of the season. Gary Moore collected his second top ten of the season. Randy Humphrey had his best showing of 2002 (6th place). "We were able to stay with the leaders. I thought we might have a shot at it. But the longer we ran under green the tighter my car got. I am really happy to be running this good," said Humphrey.
* Chuck Gafrarar was the MAG CLIP Rookie of the race for the second event in a row. Rookie contenders Arlene Pittman and Kevin Williams finished in the top 15. Arlene is one of two female drivers currently competing on the Goody's Dash Series. Kevin is African American. Both drivers are teammates to Gary Moore.
* Robert Huffman was asked about his supposed streak of luck coming to an end. "I was so tight all night, especially there at the end. Believe me, we were lucky to finish in fifth," said Huffman.
* Richard Callahan, of Flatwoods, KY and Shane Bradford, of High Point, NC were making their first appearance in a Goody's Dash Series event.
* Jay Godley announced his decision to join the MAG CLIP Rookie of the year race. This brings the total number of declared rookies contenders to ten.
Next Race: Lonesome Pine Raceway Coeburn, VA - Saturday, May 11, 2002.
TOP TEN IN POINTS:
1. Robert Huffman 515
2. Jake Hobgood 510
3. Justin Hobgood 450
4. David Hutto 449
5. Cam Strader 425
6. Chuck Gafrarar 419
7. Zach Brewer 386
8. Gary Moore 375
9. Randy Humphrey 365
10. Brandon Ward 355