SES: Memphis race report

MILLINGTON, TN. (Oct. 12 2001) - Eddie Mercer has visited victory lane many times in his illustrious racing career but one of his most exciting finishes has to be his win Friday afternoon at the .750-mile Memphis Motorsports Park, edging RE/MAX...

MILLINGTON, TN. (Oct. 12 2001) - Eddie Mercer has visited victory lane many times in his illustrious racing career but one of his most exciting finishes has to be his win Friday afternoon at the .750-mile Memphis Motorsports Park, edging RE/MAX Challenge Series, NASCAR Touring driver Eddie Hoffman at the finish strip by one foot to win the Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring $76,850 Recycled Oil 125. Mercer's Everwood/Phoenix/Quality Body Shop Chevrolet was third when the field restarted after a red flag condition with six laps remaining. In second was first time competitor Ryan Hemphill and leading was Eddie Hoffman. Mercer closed on the back bumper of Hemphill's Chevrolet but the young driver held off Mercer's charge momentarily until Mercer went low in turn one on the white flag to gain second. He then closed on Hoffman's Chevrolet catching the race leader between turns three and four. Mercer had the inside line and as the two cars came off the fourth turn they were door-handle to door-handle. They came to the finish side by side with Mercer's car beating Hoffman by one foot. "Now that is racing," commented Mercer. "I knew my car would stick on the bottom of the track and it was just a matter of time till I could make the right move. I like this track and it is only the second time I have run here." Mercer finished third in the 1999 race. "I just thought we had the race won," said a dejected Hoffman who competes on the RE/MAX Challenge Series, NASCAR Touring. "Eddie was strong and he had the inside line coming off four. We raced each other clean and he just beat me to the line." Finishing behind Mercer was Hoffman, Hemphill, Wayne Anderson and Wireway/Husky Corp. Rookie-of-the-Year contender Charlie Bradberry. The field was set per the NASCAR Rule Book with qualifying washed out on Thursday, putting points leader Wayne Anderson at the point with Randy Gentry outside front row. This event was the fourth time the series has run at the .750-mile Memphis Motorsports Park and the first time to run a 125-lap race. This was also the first event that did not go beyond the original number of scheduled laps. With just one race remaining, Anderson is in the driver's seat towards his second Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring Championship. He will enter the final race at the new Nashville Superspeedway with a 96-point lead over Randy Gentry and a 160-point lead over Jeff Fultz. Gentry finished 13th while Fultz finished 16th. Anderson took the point at the start of the event with Fultz taking the runnerup spot on the second lap from Gentry. However the field soon started to shuffle positions with Mercer taking second from Fultz on lap 14. Several drivers were improving their starting positions early including Scott Hansen, making his first start of the year. Hansen started 22nd by virtue of winning two races in 2000 and by lap 36 was running eighth. When the third caution waved on lap 61 several of the top drivers made a pit stop for fresh Hoosier Shoes and Union 76 gasoline. Hansen came in eighth for the pit stop and was first out electing only a two tire change compared to four for other drivers. With Huffman, Kevin Prince and Hemphill not pitting Hansen lined up fourth for the restart on lap 66. He moved into third on lap 70, second on lap 74 and on lap 80 was on the back bumper of Hoffman's machine. The fourth caution waved on lap 93 for debris on the track bunching the field again with Hoffman, Hansen, Hemphill, Steven Howard, Anderson, Mercer, John Nutley, Bradberry, Scott Carlson and Stanley Smith making up the top ten cars. When the field went back to green flag racing on lap 96, Mercer went low in turn on to take fifth from Anderson. Then he went around Howard for fourth on lap 100 with Hemphill pushing Hansen to third two laps later. The fifth caution bunched the field again which gave Mercer another chance to move up. He took over the third spot on lap 109 pushing Hansen back to fourth. The final race caution brought out a red flag condition for 13 minutes 21 seconds on lap 116 when the cars of Greg Pope and Ray Skillman got together in turns three and fourth. Also involved were the cars of Allen Karnes and Jody Lavender. The final six laps again saw lot of jockeying for position with Bradberry taking fifth from Hansen. Bradberry's finishing position as the top rookie has him tied with Lavender for the Wireway/Husky Corp. Rookie title for 2001. The driver finishing ahead of the other driver at the final event will win the rookie title. Rounding out the top ten finishers were Hansen, Scott Carlson, John Nutley, Howard and Smith. A number of drivers made their first series start at this event including Hemphill, Nutley, Dusty Williams, Erik Darnell and Tommy Owens. Two outstanding runs were turned in by Hemphill and Nutley. Hemphill started scratch on the field and finished third while Nutley started 35th and finished eighth. NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division driver Shane Hall made his first series start since 1996 driving a team car to Benny Gordon. Mercer earned $1,000 from Gatorade in the Championship Performance Program, while Hoffman earned $500 as the Gatorade "FrontRunner" Award winner. Hoffman and Anderson tied in the number of laps led with the award going to the highest finishing driver. Mercer's crew chief Jimmy Wainwright earned the Jasper Engines Crew Chief Challenge Award of $300 while Bradberry, as the highest finishing rookie earned $250 from Wireway/Husky Corp. The next event and the final event for the 2001 season will be the MBNA All American Classic, a 150-lap event, on November 25 at the new Nashville SuperSpeedway that will have the largest starting field in series history, 43 cars.


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Drivers Shane Hall , Jeff Fultz , Ryan Hemphill , Jody Lavender , Wayne Anderson , Charlie Bradberry , Erik Darnell , Eddie Mercer , Scott Hansen
Teams Williams