SES: Birmingham: Race report

Toby Porter makes it two for two in 2002. BIRMINGHAM, AL. (May 11 2002) - Toby Porter dove low in turn four at on the final lap of the "Uncle Bob" Harmon All Pro 200 Saturday night at Birmingham Int'l Raceway then held off Billy Bigley Jr. and...

Toby Porter makes it two for two in 2002.

BIRMINGHAM, AL. (May 11 2002) - Toby Porter dove low in turn four at on the final lap of the "Uncle Bob" Harmon All Pro 200 Saturday night at Birmingham Int'l Raceway then held off Billy Bigley Jr. and Charlie Bradberry to win his second consecutive series event in as many starts in 2002.

The outcome of the race was not determined until the final two feet of the race when Porter's Baird Transport/Ultimate Pools Service Chevrolet crossed the start finish line ahead of Bigley by .002 secs. When the white flag was displayed, Bradberry had his Bradberry Racing Chevrolet on the highside of the track and was racing Bigley for the lead with Porter tight behind Bigley's Chevrolet. Bradberry's car inched ahead of Bigley's car as the two drivers came off of turn two with Bradberry still on the highside and Porter on the lowside of the backstretch.. When the three Chevrolet's were between turns three and four Bigley's car pushed up in front of Bradberry trying to get a run off of the corner for the checkered flag. That allowed Porter to take his car low in turn four and race door handle to door handle with Bigley to the line.

Porter was almost in shock when he climbed from his car almost not believing he had won again. "What a race, I am drained" exclaimed Porter. "I just didn't think I could get around Billy and I did get into him a couple of times exiting turn two. Then while we were racing here comes Bradberry but he was on the high side and he just didn't get the grip he needed to get in front. Had he gone to the front he probably would have been in victory lane instead of me."

"Heck Toby (Porter) got under me one time in turn two and had my rear wheels off the track," said Bigley. "I got out of the gas and almost had to stop, then he backed off. That would have been a huge pileup had we spun."

What a fitting climax to a night that saw Harmon make an appearance at the track, late in the afternoon, despite his battle with cancer. The finish was reminiscent of what Harmon often referred to as an All Pro Shootout.

Finishing behind Porter was Bigley's Peerless Woodworking Chevrolet, Bradberry's Bradberry Racing Chevrolet, Eddie Hoffman in his Lisa Thomas Salons/Appleton Rack and Pinion Chevrolet and Kevin Prince with his Security Central Monitoring/Hooks Alarms Chevrolet.

Strong runs were turned in by Bradberry who started 15th, Hoffman who started 19th, Prince who started 11th, Johnny Brazier who started 23rd, Randy Gentry who started 24th and Shane Sieg who started 14th. Six of the top ten finishers started outside the top ten.

David Reutimann's Pennzoil Chevrolet and Eddie Mercer's Everwood/Phoenix/Quality Body Shop Chevrolet set the pace for the 29 car field when they qualified with identical times of 21.116 secs (106.554 mph) with Reutimann earning the pole start as per the NASCAR rule book. Reutimann set a very fast pace for the rest of the field after taking the point at the end of the first lap with Mercer, Jody Lavender, Jeff Fultz and Porter in the top five. He opened a 10-car lead over the rest of the field by lap 15 Lavender had his H & R Block/Lavender Carpets Chevrolet running strong moving to second on lap 16 with his sights set on Reutimann. Lavender chased the leader until Porter, who had been moving up from his fifth staring position, took the runner-up spot on lap 59.

The leaders made their first pit stop on lap 84 during the third race caution with J. R. Norris, making his first series start, assuming the lead when he stayed on the track.

Fultz took over the top spot on lap 98 when he took his C & C Boiler/Cleaver Brooks Chevrolet to the inside of turn two but held it only for three laps before Porter went to the front for his first of two stints at the top.

Bigley made another stop for tires during the fourth race caution and those new tires had him in the top five eight laps later and running down Porter for the lead. Again turn two saw the lead change as Bigley went to the front on lap 144 and stayed in the top five the rest of the event.

Rookie of the year contender Dusty Williams had his strongest race of the year going for him running as high as fifth on lap 132. Later his car started to drop back with tire wear then a cut tire sent his car careening into the turn one wall on lap 190 ending his night. Tire management was definitely a factor in the race. Reutimann's chances for another win ended when he pitted with only 10 laps to go. "I just couldn't drive the car," said Reutimann after the race. "I was all over the track and I know we took a chance pitting that late and it costs us a higher finishing position but we still have the race car in one piece." That final race caution restart closed the field for one of the most exciting finishing ever on the Hills Bros. All Pro Series.

Rounding out the top ten finishers were: Brazier, who took home top rookie honors for the race and the sixth car to finish on the lead lap, Fultz, Gentry, Lavender and Sieg all one lap off the pace.

Reutimann took home the Gatorade "Front Runner" Award of $500 for leading the most laps.

The next event for the Hills Bros. All Pro Series will be the Sun Belt Rentals 125, a tape-delayed televised race, on June 7 at Nashville Superspeedway.


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Drivers Billy Bigley , David Reutimann , Jeff Fultz , Jody Lavender , Shane Sieg , Eddie Mercer
Teams Williams