Tissot Takes Slim Jim All Pro Regulars to Task at Greenville-Pickens Greenville, S.C. - April 25, 1998 - In his first ever Slim Jim All Pro Series race, part of NASCAR's Touring Division, in a car he didn't anticipate driving until he arrived...
Tissot Takes Slim Jim All Pro Regulars to Task at Greenville-Pickens Greenville, S.C. - April 25, 1998 - In his first ever Slim Jim All Pro Series race, part of NASCAR's Touring Division, in a car he didn't anticipate driving until he arrived at the track, Asheville, N.C.'s Lee Tissot held off Sugar Hill, Ga.'s Steven Christian by a scant 0.11 seconds to register the victory in the Bi-Lo BonusCard 200 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway on Saturday night.
"I told the guys that if the car was handling good and I could control it coming off the corners OK we wouldn't have to pit. When everyone pitted and we assumed the lead I felt it would be easier if we were the one running up front," a surprised Tissot stated in victory lane. "I came down just to help Charles (Collins, car owner) and he decided I might be able to do a better job so he put me in the car. Our goal was to just finish the race, we never dreamed that we could win it," added the driver of the IMOCO Contractors Chevrolet.
Naples, Fla.'s Billy Bigley, Jr. earned $300 before the race even started as he captured the Bud Pole Award for the second week in a row. In a time of 19.706 seconds at an average speed of 91.343 mph the driver of the Bilstein Shocks/ Team ASE Chevrolet bested 36 other drivers as he grabbed the top starting spot in the 32-car-field. Bigley now leads the season-long chase for most pole awards and moved into a fifth place tie with five other drivers on the career poles chart with four pole positions. Racing action on the flat 0.500 mile oval is usually tight and this race proved to be no exception. The first caution waved on lap two when Josh Clemons, David Reutimann and Jeep Pflum got together in turn four. Greenville, S.C.'s Toby Porter had shot into the lead but was given a stop-and-go penalty for jumping the start. After Porter served his penalty Bigley led the pack back to green flag conditions on lap six and appeared to be on his way to a second win in as many weeks as he set the pace through the first 44 laps.
The race was halted by a red flag on lap 44 for a multi-car accident in turn two that collected seven cars and blocked the racing surface. Once the melee was cleared up Bigley picked up where he left off and was setting a comfortable pace until rookie Brian Sockwell made contact with the turn four wall on lap 98. The resultant caution period provided the leaders with the opportunity to pit under yellow flag conditions, thus moving Tissot into the top spot.
Tissot lead for the first time on lap 101 and when green flag racing resumed on lap 105 Porter was in second by virtue of staying on the track as well, having pitted during an earlier caution period. Behind the lead duo was Reutimann, Christian and Mardy Lindley. For many laps Tissot, Porter and Christian, who got by Reutimann on lap 123, picked their way through lapped traffic, in what appeared to be the lead trio biding their time and saving the rubber on their Hoosier tires for the final laps of the 200 lap race.
Christian pursued Porter closely as the laps began to wind down, allowing Tissot to open up a five car length advantage. On lap 177 Christian moved under Porter and took over the runner up spot. One lap later the caution waved after Clemons spun again in turn two, setting up a 16 lap dash to the checkered flag. With three laps to go Christian made a hard charge down the front straightaway in an attempt to overtake Tissot but the caution was waving after Robert Burroughs spun between turns one and two thus allowing Tissot to remain in the top spot for the final restart. The race ended in a green-white-checkered sequence as the top four drivers finished nose-to-tail. Tissot picked up his first Slim Jim All Pro Series win over Christian while Christian held off Porter. Rounding out the top five before a capacity crowd of over 14,000 were Derrick Gilchrist and Reutimann. Completing the top 10 were Ron Young, Bigley, Hal Goodson, David Moyer and Lindley.
Points leader Freddie Query saw his points lead shrink to 73 points after he experienced ignition problems early in the race and ended up finishing 25 laps down in 24th place. Christian and Reutimann are now tied for the second position while Bigley, Gilchrist, Goodson, Burkett, Lindley, Scott Kilby and Randy Gentry round out the top 10. The second through seventh points positions are separated by only 36 points afte five races. Moyer's ninth place finish, which is the first top 10 finish of his short Slim Jim All Pro Series career, earned him rookie of the race honors while Burkett continues to lead the rookie chase over Kilby by nine points. Christian's crew chief Sammy Shumate picked up $300 from Jasper Engines & Transmissions as Tissot's car did not carry the proper decals to earn the Crew Chief Challenge award.
The next event for the Slim Jim All Pro Series is Saturday night, May 2 at Southern National Speedway in Kenly, N.C. The Southern National 200 will be the sixth event on the 19-race Slim Jim All Pro Series schedule and will be the third series race held at the 0.400 mile oval.