SES: Gainesville race story 97-08-30

Gilchrist Survives to Win Kroger 200 GAINESVILLE, GA - August 30, 1997 - The Kroger 200 presented by Old El Paso was a NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series race that featured many of the usual suspects running at the front at various stages of the...

Gilchrist Survives to Win Kroger 200 GAINESVILLE, GA - August 30, 1997 - The Kroger 200 presented by Old El Paso was a NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series race that featured many of the usual suspects running at the front at various stages of the event but also some incidents that included them as well. When all was said and done, Raleigh, NC's Derrick Gilchrist survived to win his second race in three events. The sophomore driver earned $8,375 of Lanier National Speedway's $43,360 race purse. Gilchrist, the driver of the Fairfield Inns Chevrolet, commented afterwards, "We had a good car since lap one. We knew that if I stayed out of the wrecks early, that we'd be in the right place at the end. Our car was better in the second half because we made an adjustment in the air pressure during our pit stop," the 20-year-old added. Busch Pole qualifying was a challenging affair as a 1997 record 48 cars went on the clock to attempt to secure one of the 30 starting positions. When the dust settled, Lawrenceville, GA's Jimmy Garmon picked up his first career Busch Pole Award and earned the right to lead the field to the green flag in his first NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series start. Garmon toured his home track's 0.375 mile oval in a time of 13.826 seconds at a speed of 97.642 mph at the wheel of his Cintas Uniforms Chevrolet. Once again the field was spiced with Lanier National Speedway regulars, with three of the top four drivers in the Slim Jim All Pro Series point standings being forced to take provisionals. Of the top four drivers in points only Darlington, SC's Hal Goodson, who resides in the second position, made the starting field based on his qualifying time, which turned out to be fourth fastest. At the drop of the green Sugar Hill, GA's Steven Christian powered into the lead from his outside front row starting position and quickly moved out to a five car length lead at the wheel of his BellSouth Chevrolet. By lap 26 Christian began to lap slower cars but Suwanee, GA's Mike Garvey overhauled him and moved into the top spot on

lap 29. On lap 38 the leaders got together with some lapped cars and the first of nine caution flags was displayed. Involved in the incident were Christian, Garvey, Hank Parker, Jr., Brian Smith, Scott Sutherland, David Reutimann and Brad Correll. Garvey, then the leader, and Correll were unable to continue. Although involved in the incident, Parker kept his Delco Voyager Batteries Chevrolet going in the right direction and held the lead when the green flag waved again. Parker's lead was short lived as Birmingport, AL's Mike Harmon powered his Lonesome Pine Timber Co. Chevrolet into the lead on lap 49. Harmon and Parker alternately dueled and cruised until the yellow was displayed on lap 101 for a competition caution, then resumed their two car battle when the green flag waved again five laps later. Going into turn two on lap 128 they made heavy contact, then both spun, and collected Christian, who had been making a solid march back through the field. Gilchrist inherited the lead at this point, and had to hold off the determined charges of Goodson and Ron Young on four subsequent restarts before earning the win. Neither Goodson nor Young could mount a serious challenge over the remaining 72 laps but the second and third place finishers continued to eat away at points leader Jeff Fultz's lead with their solid finishes. Rounding out the top five were Nipper Alsup and Robert Powell. Completing the top 10 were local driver Ricky Turner, Fultz, and Brian Weeks, all on the lead lap, while Parker and Scott Sutherland were one lap in arrears. Fultz continues to lead the series point standings with Goodson now just 73 points back in second and Young only 12 points behind Goodson. Reutimann and Harmon continue to maintain their respective fourth and fifth place positions while Alsup regains the sixth spot over Gilchrist who jumps from ninth to seventh. Rounding out the top 10 are Parker, Christian and Wayne Anderson. After finishing 11th, Concord, NC's Sean Studer earned the $400 Port City Racing Rookie of the Race Award, his first such honor this season. Leading Port City Racing Rookie candidate David Reutimann earned Rookie of the Race Runner-Up honors after finishing 13th. After managing his team's effort to earn the race win, Robert Hamke picked up the $300 check from Jasper Engines and Transmissions as the Crew Chief of the Race for the second time this year. As a result of Young's third place finish crew chief Larry Rapp maintained the lead in the season long crew chief points chase. Rapp now leads Sammy Shumate by 10 points. The next event for the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series will take place at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. The NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro 200 is scheduled for Saturday night, September 13, and represents the 16th of 20 races on the 1997 schedule. This event was originally scheduled for July 19 but was rescheduled as a result of Hurricane Danny. -30- For further information contact NASCAR Public Relations at (770) 486-3591. jn

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Drivers Mike Harmon , David Reutimann , Jeff Fultz , Ron Young , Brian Smith , Wayne Anderson , Mike Garvey