SES: Kentucky race report

SPARTA, KY. (June 15 2001) - Jeff Fultz had a score to settle with the new Kentucky Speedway just south of his hometown, Cincinnati, Oh., and he settled that score in grand style Friday evening with his C & C Boiler/Cleaver Brooks Chevrolet...

SPARTA, KY. (June 15 2001) - Jeff Fultz had a score to settle with the new Kentucky Speedway just south of his hometown, Cincinnati, Oh., and he settled that score in grand style Friday evening with his C & C Boiler/Cleaver Brooks Chevrolet winning the Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring $95,550 Kentucky 150 presented by The Lexington Herald Leader.

This was Fultz's first win of the 2001 campaign and his fifth career win in the series where he has finished second in national points twice.

"We needed this win tonight," said Fultz in victory lane. "This Jon Craig led team has worked so hard this year wanting to win our first championship but little things along the way have hurt our finishing positions. We have had two bad runs otherwise the other five have been in the top ten but the competition is so keen this year that you have to consistently be upfront to be in the points."

"Last year we didn't have a good race. I consider this my home track being so close to Cincinnati and as last year I had lots of family and friends watching."

"Brian (Smith) is as tough as they come and those first four laps were tight. He had a better line being on the highside coming off the corners and could pull ahead of me. With restrictor plates on these cars you have to build up a good momentum and he had that on the outside. Guess it was pretty much Brian and my race tonight except for when everyone pitted on the one caution period."

Finishing behind the winner was Wayne Anderson, the apparent winner in 2000 whose car failed post race inspection, Eddie Mercer, Bryan Smith and Steven Howard.

Despite an horrendous rainstorm that moved through the area four hours before race time and outstanding work by track personnel, 22,418 hungry eagar race fans saw the green flag wave to start this exciting weekend of racing that included the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division and the Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring.

When the series became the first NASCAR Touring series to compete at this magnificent 1.5-mile speedplant in 2000, Fultz started the 100-lap race on the outside of row one. But things did not go as expected for the young driver with many friends and family members watching. After taking an early race lead his machine went to the garage for extended repairs finally finishing 23 laps off the pace.

But 2001 was different. He again started from the outside of row one along side Bud Pole winner Smith who broke his own qualifying set in 2000 when he pushed his CRD Engines/Smith Fabrication/Brinkley Racing Pontiac to a fast lap of 35.413 Secs (152.486 mph) to establish the new qualifying mark for this series.

Smith and Fultz dualed side by side for the first nine laps before Smith pulled away on lap ten to a five car advantage. But Fultz was deterimed and kept his sights trained on Smith's machine finally closing the gap and taking the point on lap 32.

He held that spot until the first caution waved on lap 39 when the machine of NASCAR Craftsman Truck regular Matt Crafton stopped on the pit exit road in turn one. It took some time to get Crafton's car to the pits so many drivers made their only necessary pit stop for fresh Hoosier shoes and a full tank of gas.

Fultz was first in for his stop followed by Smith, Benny Gordon, Chad Bland, Lee Tissot, Charlie Bradberry, David Reutimann, Billy Bigley Jr. Eddie Mercer and Randy Gentry in the top ten. Great work by his Jasper Engines and Transmissions crew had Bland out of the pits first with Fultz second.

When the field went back to green on lap 45, Beasley led them into turn one. As they came out of turn two, Bland took his mount to the highside of the backstretch with Fultz going to the low side as the two cars split Beasley's machine. Wayne Anderson followed Fultz and emerged in the runner-up slot.

There was little doubt that Fultz wanted to win and win bad as he opened a huge lead over Anderson and Smith leaving these two drivers challenging for second with Mercer running in fourth.

While these three cars were trying to run down Fultz's Chevrolet, a large group of cars consisting of Howard, Bigley, Reutimann, Bradberry, Gordon, A. J. Frank, Gentry and Stanley Smith were bunched very close battling for position.

Anderson narrowed Fultz's margin to four car lengths with 17 laps to run but then had to back off as the cars went into the corner with Ray Skillman's machine between the two cars. Smith closed on Anderson's car to one car length but in the final ten laps faded allowing Mercer to take the third spot at the checkered flag. The top four cars were almost nose to tail at the finish.

Rounding out the top ten finishers were Gordon, Reutimann, Bigley, Smith and Gentry.

Twenty-nine cars were running at the end from the 40 car starting field with only one caution period for seven laps. Fultz's winning average speed of 136.64 mph erased the inaugural mark of 111.747 set in 2000 by Billy Bigley Jr.

Fultz earned an additional $1,000 in winning the Gatorade Performance Award and an addional $500 with the Gatorade "FrontRunner" Award. Fultz's Crew Chief, Jon Craig, won the Jasper Engines Crew Chief Challenge Award.

Charlie Bradberry was the top finishing Wireway/Husky Corp Rookie-of-the-Year driver with Roger Parker the second highest finishing rookie contender. Despite his 33rd place finish Jody Lavender continues to lead the rookie points standing by just two points over Richie Beasley and Bradberry.

The next event for the Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring will be on July 3 at South Boston (VA) Speedway for the South Boston Speedway, NASCAR Triple Header.

-Bill Desmond

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Drivers Matt Crafton , Billy Bigley , David Reutimann , Jeff Fultz , Jody Lavender , Wayne Anderson , Charlie Bradberry , Eddie Mercer