Jeff Fultz wins Hills Bros. All Pro Series season finale. Millington, Tn. (October 20 2002) - Jeff Fultz put an exclamation point on his bid for the 2002 Hills Bros. All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring Championship Sunday afternoon winning the...
Jeff Fultz wins Hills Bros. All Pro Series season finale.
Millington, Tn. (October 20 2002) - Jeff Fultz put an exclamation point on his bid for the 2002 Hills Bros. All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring Championship Sunday afternoon winning the Memphis 125 at Memphis Motorsport Park and the 2002 Series Championship.
Fultz has to wait an extra day in his quest to win the championship when inclement weather on Saturday moved this race and the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division Sam's Town 250 to Sunday.
Fultz started outside front row in his C & C Boiler/Cleaver Brooks Chevrolet with Bud Pole winner Scott Carlson's Advance Construction Services/Hamner Engine Pontiac with one thing on his mind when the green flag waved and that was winning the race and winning his first NASCAR Series Championship.
"I am just a little speechless right now," said Fultz when he exited his racecar in victory lane. "There are so many people who have worked so hard to finally make this happen. I lost a close one in 1997 by two points and Jon Craig and the entire team have worked so hard to get this team to this point. This is something I have dreamed about all my life. NASCAR racing is my life and I am so thankful that Jim and Jon Craig gave me the opportunity to be their driver."
"The car handled very well on the track but I was a little concerned about not pitting for some Unocal Fuel," Fultz continued.
When asked how he felt when Reutimann took his car to the garage, Fultz replied, " First of all I hated it for David. He is a tremendous driver and has dominated the series this year. Jon (Craig) kept me posted and I just drove the car a little easier and let it roll through the corners and prayed a little hoping nothing happened to our car."
Reutimann was very gracious in defeat. He came to victory lane to congratulate his closest competitor but he had that look of dejection in his eyes.
"We have worked so hard all year to win this championship," said David. "Michael Wakely has given us good equipment all year but right now I have no idea what happened to the motor. I wanted to race Jeff for the championship and hopefully that opportunity will come again. We know things happen for a reason but his whole team can hold their heads up high because they have worked very hard all year to keep us in contention."
Carlson and Fultz went side by side around the .7500-mile speedplant on the first lap with Fultz taking the point as the two cars came off turn four and never looked back. Fultz led all 125-laps and did so without a pit stop as did Carlson.
Fultz and Carlson dominated the race maintaining the top two positions for the entire race.
Finishing behind Fultz and Carlson was the top finishing rookie contender Jarod Robie in his Crews Eye Production/Safety Products Chevrolet with another outstanding run, first time competitor Nathan Haseleu, driving the Kuntz Auto Service Ford and Joe Aramendia with his Lazano Bros. Porting/Aramendia Chevrolet.
David Reutimann with his Pennzoil Chevrolet entered the final series event with a five point lead over Fultz as these two drivers have battled all year for the top spot. Reutimann started 13th in the 34 car field and will probably become superstitious after this event. On lap 43 he slowed on the track and took his car directly to the garage ending a tremendous year of racing, finishing 31st, his worst finish of the season.
Charlie Bradberry, the third contender for the championship again had handling problems on his Bradberry Racing Chevrolet, ending up in 16th, two laps off the pace. Bradberry maintained third place in the final series points standing.
Fourteen drivers finished on the lead lap with four of the five rookie of the year contenders finishing in the top ten.
Some excellent runs were turned in on this fast speedplant with Toby Porter starting 22nd and finishing sixth. Another new driver Travis Geisler, started 22nd and finished 13th, and Steven Howard and Randy Pedley advanced the most positions improving 16 spots from their starting position. Howard starting 30th and Pedley, 34th.
Butch Miller made his first series start since 1994, starting seventh and finishing 25th, exiting the event on lap 84 with suspension problems. Rounding out the top ten positions were Porter, Benny Gordon, Dusty Williams, Jason Hogan and Billy Bigley Jr.
Hogan won the 2002 Rookie-of-the-Year title over Aramendia, Robie, Williams and Johnny Brazier.
Leading all 125 laps earned Fultz the Gatorade "FrontRunner" Award. Fultz and all series drivers will be honored Saturday, October 26 at the 2002 Awards Banquet at the Atlanta Airport Hilton.