JUSTIN DIERCKS SCORES FIRST CAREER SOUTHEAST SERIES VICTORY SATURDAY NIGHT AT HOUSTON MOTORSPORTS PARK HOUSTON, Tex. (May 7, 2005) - As the old saying goes, everything is bigger in the state of Texas. Justin Diercks isn't one to argue...
JUSTIN DIERCKS SCORES FIRST CAREER SOUTHEAST SERIES VICTORY SATURDAY NIGHT AT HOUSTON MOTORSPORTS PARK
HOUSTON, Tex. (May 7, 2005) - As the old saying goes, everything is bigger in the state of Texas. Justin Diercks isn't one to argue that fact after scoring his first NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series victory Saturday night in the NTB 150 presented by National Tire & Battery before a packed grandstand at Houston Motorsports Park.
Diercks won the race after winning his first Bud Pole award, but had to start eighth after the field was inverted.
"This is awesome," said Diercks, the defending Midwest Series champion who is planning on running in both divisions in 2005. "I'm so impressed with this series, all the way from the NASCAR officials to my fellow competitors. This is a first class series and I love it so far. This victory means the world to me and this team."
Diercks - a native of Davenport, Iowa - showed that patience was the key as he watched leader after leader have problems that dropped them from contention. J.R. Norris was leading at one point until he spun and backed into the second turn wall just before Jeff Fultz - who was gunning for his second straight Southeast Series victory of the season - cut down a tire while at the front of the field and had to make an unscheduled pit stop.
"This was some real hard racing," Diercks said. "J.R. Norris, Jeff Fultz and Jason Hogan were really the class of the field. This is unreal to win in this series in only my second career Southeast Series race. We were real excited when we made up our minds to also race in the Southeast Series this year. Like I was saying, all the officials, drivers and crews have just treated us fantastically. This is just unbelievable because this series has a lot of great drivers who really race you hard every lap. This is what it's all about.
"To be honest, this is probably the biggest win of my career other than winning the Southwest Series championship last year. This is awesome and a night I'll never forget. I just can't wait for the next race and hopefully be able to put on another good show for the fans because this place was packed tonight. We really weren't sure if we'd run both divisions this year, but after my dad saw how everybody treated us in the first race at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway he made his mind up that this was a series we really needed to be running in."
In the end, it was Diercks holding off a strong challenge from defending Houston winner Jason Hogan on a green-white-checkered restart while Dusty Williams nailed down his best career Southeast Series finish of third. Justin Wakefield ended up fourth while Greg Pope rounded out the top-five.
Hogan admitted that he had the opportunity to put the bumper to Diercks to grab the lead and win, but didn't want to take the victory in controversial fashion.
"We're looking at the big picture and that's the championship," said Hogan, who now holds the Southeast Series points lead by five markers ahead of Wakefield. "We're racing for points and I had to keep that in mind. We had an awesome car and I really thought we had a shot at getting around him for the win until that last caution flag and I just spun my tires on the last restart. To run second to the defending Midwest Series champion as well as beat our own series champion of Jeff Fultz means a whole lot to me. I really feel like I'm in great company and I learn something every time I come to race in the Southeast Series.
"I had the chance to spin the leader out and win, but that's not how I want to race and it's not how I want other drivers to race me. These cars don't run too well with the fenders torn off them, so we're taking a really good car home in one piece. We finished second and grabbed the points lead so we're happy all the way around."
Williams looked like a kid in a candy store following the race.
"This means the world to me," Williams said. "I thought we'd be good, but once I got in the lead for the first time I was really emotional and happy because of the way our luck has been the last three years in the Southeast Series. We've changed our whole team and I think this shows it's all coming together for me finally. I really can't thank every single person on this team enough because we've gone through a lot of changes in the off-season. I've never had as good of a car as I had tonight.
"We improved three positions from the first race of the season, so if we can improve three more positions at our next race we'll be in victory lane. I just can't wait to get my first win. Even though we're sitting fifth in the points now, I'm not thinking about that as much as I am winning my first race. My focus is on winning my first Southeast Series race and I'll worry about the championship later on this year."
The Top-10 was rounded out by Michael Crofford in his very first career Southeast Series start, followed by Kenny Bumbera, Robert Richardson, Fultz and rookie driver Michael Foy.
The Southeast Series returns to action May 28 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway
Time of Race: 0 hrs., 48 mins, 16 secs
Average Speed: 70.390 mph
Margin of Victory: .210 Seconds
BUD POLE AWARD: Justin Diercks, 2 Iowa-Illinois/Shabbona Creeks RV Chevrolet
FEATHERLITE "MOST IMPROVED DRIVER": Greg Pope, 63 GK Pope Trucking Chevrolet
POWERADE "POWER MOVE OF THE RACE": Jason Hogan, 92 Hogan Lumber Chevrolet
LUNATI CREW CHIEF OF THE RACE: Nick Carlson, No. 2 car of Justin Diercks
Caution Flags: Laps 13-18; 43-47; 61-65; 74-76; 86-88; 143-148. 6 for 28 laps.
Lap Leaders: Kenny Bumbera 1-11, Dusty Williams 12-39, J R Norris 40-41, Dusty Williams 42-81, Jeff Fultz 82-123, Justin Diercks 124-151.
Total Laps Led: Dusty Williams 68, Jeff Fultz 42, Justin Diercks 28, Kenny Bumbera 11, J R Norris 2. 5 changes involving 5 drivers.
Top 10 Driver Points: Jason Hogan 335, Justin Wakefield 330, Justin Diercks 326, Jeff Fultz 318, Dusty Williams 315, Charlie Bradberry 290, Gary Helton * 270, Greg Pope 264, Allen Karnes 261, Robert Richardson, II 257
Next Race: South Boston Speedway (May 28)