SES: Coastal Plains Story

Jacksonville, N.C. - March 25, 2000 - In the $48,350 New Century Homes 200 at Coastal Plains Raceway, Naples, Fla.'s Billy Bigley, Jr. exercised a wise tire-management strategy enroute to his eighth career victory in Slim Jim All Pro Series,...

Jacksonville, N.C. - March 25, 2000 - In the $48,350 New Century Homes 200 at Coastal Plains Raceway, Naples, Fla.'s Billy Bigley, Jr. exercised a wise tire-management strategy enroute to his eighth career victory in Slim Jim All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring competition. "Patience was the key," said Bigley, who had to deal with five caution flags in the opening 88 laps. "I was real good on Wayne (Anderson) on restarts. Especially down in one and two. I could see he was having a hard time so I just bided my time. The car was really so good all day," said Bigley. "I mean we were a little loose, but we were trying to learn how to drive this place, we'd never seen it before." Once Bigley disposed of Anderson his troubles were not yet over. "I kept yelling on the radio to my crew 'how close is he?" said Bigley of Lee Tissot. 'You've got six or seven car lengths' they'd say. But I'd look and he was right behind me." Bluffton, S.C.'s A.J. Frank not only established the track record during Bud Pole Qualifying but he also earned his first career pole position in Slim Jim All Pro Series competition. The second-year driver wheeled his Coastal Medical Associates Chevrolet Monte Carlo around the 0.400-mile oval in a time of 15.161 seconds resulting in a lap speed of 94.981 mph. When the green flag waved signaling the start of the 200-lap race Frank and outside polesitter Randy Gentry raced side-by-side for the first two circuits, with Gentry leading the first lap, and Frank seizing sole possession of the lead coming out of turn two on lap three. By the time the field sprinted down the backstretch Cincinnati, Oh.'s Jeff Fultz used the low line to grab the runnerup spot from Gentry. The two made contact and Gentry wound up spinning into the turn four wall, bringing out the first caution of the race. On the restart on lap nine Frank again maintained the top spot, ultimately setting the pace until lap 31 when 1999 Slim Jim All Pro Series champion Anderson swooped by the fleet youngster. Tucker, Ga.'s Shane Sieg followed Anderson by Frank and he raced into the lead on the 35th circuit. The S&W Automotive Chevrolet driver set the pace until Anderson regained control on lap 52. Anderson kept his Jani King Chevrolet out front through the race's halfway point. Just after a caution period that straddled the halfway point, brought out by a crash that involved Jeremy Thompson and Kevin Prince, the green flag was again displayed to leader Anderson on lap 105. Two laps later Bigley overhauled the Wildwood, Fla. driver and was then intent on putting as many cars a lap down as his fleet Chevrolet would allow. While he was quite effective in lapping cars, and maneuvering through lapped traffic, Asheville, N.C.'s Tissot was equally effective, keeping right up with Bigley. The race's final caution ended on lap 133 and just after the restart Tissot dove low coming out of turn four, edged alongside Bigley, but could not make the pass. He kept the heat on Bigley throughout the latter stages of the race but ultimately could not catch the veteran. At the finish Bigley pulled away to a 3.07 second win. Tissot held on to second, polesitter Frank earned a career-best third place finish and Fairhope, Ala.'s Billy Mills also grabbed a career-best fourth place finish. Greer, S.C.'s Steven Howard rounded out the top five.

The sixth through 10th positions went to David Reutimann, Gregory Pope, Benny Gordon, Wayne Anderson and George Ingole. Nineteen of 28 starters were running when the checkered flag waved and Bigley's victory run was executed in one hour, 22 minutes and one second to establish the initial race record at the 0.400-mile track. Bigley's winning average speed was 58.170 mph in a race that was slowed by seven caution flags consuming 63 laps. There were six lead changes amongst five drivers. After two points races in 2000 Bigley takes over the top spot with 330 points while Tissot trails by 14 points. Gordon is just four points behind Tissot while Reutimann and Jeff Fultz round out the top five. Rookie David Stremme, Frank, Howard, Brian Smith and Pope complete the top 10 points positions with 15 races left in the season. By virtue of leading the most laps Bigley picked up the $500 Gatorade Front Runner Award and moved into a tie with Scott Hansen for the early points lead in that category. Frank, Gentry, Anderson and Sieg each also earned one point for leading laps. Bigley's crew chief Adam Heckelman nabbed the $300 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Crew-Chief-of-the-Race Award for leading his team's march to victory. Heckelman is now tied with Hansen's crew chief Craig Smokstad for the points lead in the category. The Moroso Performance Products Rookie-of-the-Year standings are quite tight after two races. With Mills earning the $250 Rookie-of-the-Race honors and Pope winding up as runnerup four points separates the top four drivers. David Stremme and Pope are tied for the lead with John Gerstner and Mills just two points behind. Next up for the drivers in the Slim Jim All Pro Series is the B&B Pools 200 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. The race will be held on Saturday, April 22 and represents the 19th time that the series' competitors will have raced at the flat and challenging 0.500-mile oval.

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Drivers Billy Bigley , David Reutimann , Jeff Fultz , David Stremme , Brian Smith , Wayne Anderson , A.J. Frank , Scott Hansen