SES: Greenville race story

Gilchrist Notches First Career NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series Win GREENVILLE, SC - August 2, 1997 - In 1997 parity seems to be the operative term on the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series. Raleigh, NC's Derrick Gilchrist reinforced that notion on...

Gilchrist Notches First Career NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series Win GREENVILLE, SC - August 2, 1997 - In 1997 parity seems to be the operative term on the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series. Raleigh, NC's Derrick Gilchrist reinforced that notion on Saturday night at Greenville- Pickens Speedway in Greenville, SC as he won the $43,800 Bi-Lo Bonuscard 200 to become the 11th different winner in 13 series events in 1997. Driving his Fairfield Inns/Tarheel Wood Treating/BB&T Bank Chevrolet, the 20-year-old driver earned his first career NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series win after capturing the Busch Pole Award, then proceeded to stave off the challenges of numerous competitors while leading all 200 laps. No one had led from start to finish at Greenville-Pickens since August 11, 1991 when Gary Balough started from the pole, led 127 laps, then earned the victory in a rain-shortened event. Gilchrist earned $8,375 for his efforts and moved back into seventh place in the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series point standings, after dropping to ninth after a mechanical failure in last weekend's event at Heartland Park Topeka. Gilchrist's first win proved to be quite emotional for the youngster as he thanked family and crew members, as well as crew chief Robert Hamke in victory lane, "I want to thank my mom and dad, as well as all of my crew for helping me get to this point. Also, I couldn't have won this race tonite without the help of Robert (Hamke), he kept me calm during the race and told me to conserve my tires. We had seen others win here on one set of tires so we tried to do the same thing and it worked!" After being one of the fastest cars in practice, Gilchrist was expected to be one of the top cars in Busch Pole qualifying. Of the 37 cars entered, Gilchrist was the next to last car to make a qualifying attempt and he made the most of it by earning his second career pole position, with his other pole coming at Greenville-Pickens on April 26. He earned the top spot with a time of 19.849 seconds which translated into a speed of 90.685 mph. By earning the top spot for the second time this year Gilchrist has moved into a tie with Steven Christian and Hank Parker, Jr. for the lead in the season-long championship for most Busch Poles earned. At the drop of the green flag Gilchrist did what he would ultimately do for the entire event, run his own race. He got the jump on outside polesitter Scott Sutherland and held Sutherland, Hal Goodson, Billy Bigley, Jr. and Mike Harmon at bay. The caution waved after one lap when Scott Kilby spun in turn one but he was able to regroup and restart at the rear of the field. Only six laps later the second caution flew when Pete Silva spun his Pontiac into the frontstretch wall and collected Spanks Overbeck in the process. Both drivers were forced to retire for the evening. When green flag racing resumed the field settled into a groove with Gilchrist setting the pace and Goodson, Bigley, Sutherland, Steven Christian and a host of others were left to battle for the top five positions. The yellow flag was again displayed on lap 52 when Kilby, Ken Alexander, Kevin Horton and Carl Long got together between turns one and two. Kilby was done for the evening while the other three drivers were able to continue. The event's fifth caution period occurred on lap 73 when Hank Parker, Jr. and Wayne Anderson got together entering turn one. Parker suffered extensive rear end damage and pulled into the pits for lengthy repairs while Anderson was able to continue. During this caution period most of the leaders pitted, with the exception of Gilchrist, Bigley, Christian, local favorites Randy Gentry and Mardy Lindley and Larry Raines. At the 100 lap mark half of the 34 car field was still on the lead lap and when the sixth caution waved on lap 115, as a result of a backstretch crash between Nipper Alsup and 1996 Greenville-Pickens Speedway Track Champion Steven Howard, Mike Harmon and series points leader Jeff Fultz were saved from going a lap down to Gilchrist. During this caution Christian and Harmon elected to pit for fresh Hoosier tires and returned to the track at the tail of the lead lap pack. When the green waved once again on lap 124, Bigley fell off the pace with motor problems while running second, handing the runnerup spot to Gentry. By lap 142 Lindley had closed on a fading Gentry and took over second. Behind Lindley the battle raged as Gentry continued to fade on worn tires with Goodson, Raines, Ron Young, Christian and Sutherland swapping positions repeatedly. The final caution waved on lap 185 when Goodson and Christian got together on the backstretch. Both suffered sheet metal damage but were able to continue and managed to stay on the lead lap. When the checkered flag waved Gilchrist streaked across the finish line 0.431 seconds ahead of Lindley, with Young, Harmon and Sutherland completing the top five. The next five were led by Raines, Gentry, Fultz, Goodson and Horton who secured his first ever top 10 finish. With his eighth place finish Fultz extended his points lead to 81 over Goodson while Young and leading Port City Racing Rookie candidate David Reutimann maintained their respective fourth and fifth place points positions. Harmon displaced Alsup for the fifth spot after Harmon's fourth place finish. With his seventh place finish Gentry earned the $400 Port City Racing Rookie of the Race Award for the third time this year. By virtue of his first top 10 finish Horton earned Rookie of the Race Runner-Up honors. Reutimann continues to maintain the lead in the season long rookie battle over Long. After coaching Gilchrist to his first career NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series win Hamke picked up the $300 check from Jasper Engines and Transmissions as the Crew Chief of the Race. As a result of Young's third place finish crew chief Larry Rapp broke a tie with Michael Williams and Jimmy King to take a six point lead in the season long crew chief battle. The next event for the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro Series will take place at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, NC. The Arndt & Herman Windows 200 is scheduled for Saturday night, August 9, and represents the 14th of 20 races on the 1997 schedule.. -30- For further information contact NASCAR Public Relations at (770) 486- 3591. jn

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Drivers Billy Bigley , Mike Harmon , David Reutimann , Jeff Fultz , Ron Young , Carl Long , Wayne Anderson
Teams Williams