Rougemont, NC (April 29, 2001) Cam Strader, from Wilson, NC took his Wesson Cooking Oil Peter Pan Peanut Butter Mercury Cougar to victory lane in the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series, COCA-COLA "150" at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, NC...
Rougemont, NC (April 29, 2001) Cam Strader, from Wilson, NC took his Wesson Cooking Oil Peter Pan Peanut Butter Mercury Cougar to victory lane in the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series, COCA-COLA "150" at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, NC Saturday night.
Strader qualified third but started the race in second by virtue of the pre-race draw. He passed Shane Hmiel to take the lead on the first lap, and led until lap four when Robert Huffman charged to the lead in his Toyota Celica. Huffman showed that the TRD powerplant is ready to help him defend his 2000 Championship Title. Huffman dominated the early stages of the event, leading 70 laps, until his fuel pump malfunctioning. He lost 25 laps in the pits while replacing the pump and finished in 18th place.
Another highlight of the night was seeing Kelly Sutton lead her first laps of the young 2001 season. Sutton is racing a limited schedule this year and she is one of two female drivers participating in the series. Sutton held the point for 18 laps until she pitted for fuel. Sutton had been featured on the Montel William's TV talk show earlier in the week.
This was the second race of the season for the Goody's Dash Series, and the first of ten short track events on the 2001 schedule. It was exactly eleven weeks since the race at Daytona and the drivers were eager to get back into the heat of competition. The final laps of this event gave the nail-biters plenty of reason to chew.
There were seven caution periods, by far the most exciting coming on lap 98 when Jimmy Britts slapped the wall going down the back-stretch. Leader Keith Roggen was close behind and slammed into the rear end of Britts' car. This resulted in Britts ending up on top of Roggen's hood, knocking his carburetor off in the process.
Flames erupted but were quickly extinguished. Both drivers walked away uninjured. Roggen shrugged off the incident. "I felt that we had a car to win tonight, but learning to accept disappointments is part of the maturing process for a race car driver", said Roggen.
This shuffled the field setting up a mad dash to the finish. B. J. Mackey, Roger Sawyer, Cam Strader, and Shane Hmiel put on a show for the fans over the waning laps. Sawyer grabbed the lead on lap 120 and Strader and he touched coming to the start finish line on lap 121. As they gathered up their machines Hmiel shot from fourth to the lead and would eventually pull out to a ten car length differential. By lap 42 his car became loose allowing Sawyer, Strader, and Mackey to close up.
They were racing hard side by side and even three wide at times. Strader dove low to pass Sawyer and then again to pass Hmiel. They touched coming out of turn four sending Hmiel's car into a spin. Hmiel would go on to finish in 9th place with Strader taking home the win. "I hate to get a win that way, stated a reluctant Strader. No one likes to win with a cloud of controversy hanging over it. This is the first car that I helped Barry Owens build and that made it special for me to win this event."
Shane Hmiel was clearly disappointed. "We showed them we know how to lead races. We led at Bristol in 2000 and we led here tonight. My radio was breaking up and I was trying to take care of my tires, or I would not have let them to get so close."
Roger Sawyer finished second, having raced with a sore wrist. He was all smiles after the race. B. J. Mackey brought his Randy Humphrey Racing Pontiac home in 3rd place. "We are happy with this finish. Randy Humphrey offered me the ride and we had only two days to get ready", stated Mackey. Scott Weaver and Jake Hobgood rounded out the top five.
"That was an old fashion, short track shootout," said Series Director of Public Relations, Randy Claypoole. The three cars of Strader, Sawyer, and Mackey were so on the edge, swapping positions and touching fenders...it was incredible!