Gary Helton wins Montgomery Motor Speedway race while Jeff Fultz scores third NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series championship MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Oct. 29, 2005) -- It was rookie Gary Helton winning the battle on Saturday night ...
Gary Helton wins Montgomery Motor Speedway race while Jeff Fultz scores third NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series championship
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Oct. 29, 2005) -- It was rookie Gary Helton winning the battle on Saturday night thanks to his victory in the Montgomery 225 at Montgomery (Ala.) Motor Speedway, but it was Jeff Fultz winning the season-long war to earn the 2005 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series championship.
When all was said and done Helton was celebrating his third win of the season and wrapping up Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors while Fultz was hoisting the Southeast Series championship trophy high above his head for the third time in his illustrious career.
"This has been a very exciting year for us," Fultz said. "It's probably one of the most nerve-wracking years because it seemed like between myself, J.R. Norris, Jason Hogan and Dusty Williams, whoever had the championship lead would have problems. It's like the leader was jinxed all year long, but after the last race we knew what we needed to get the job done."
The scenario Fultz was facing heading into Montgomery needing only a 15th place finish and the title would be his even if second-place Jason Hogan were to win the race. It got a little too close for comfort when Fultz had a dead battery and was sent behind the wall while Hogan was battling among the leaders. To his credit, Hogan did all he could do by finishing second at Montgomery behind Helton while Fultz ended up 15th to win the title by only 12 points.
"It started missing and the battery shorted out on us," Fultz explained. "We had a good car up to that point and were just trying to stay out of trouble. We came up a little short as far as being in contention there at the end but we won the ultimate war which is what we came here to do. I wanted this championship bad and we've put a lot of pressure on our team to finally repeat as champions."
Helton was also in quite a celebratory mood following his second straight victory which made it three for the season.
"This is just awesome," Helton said. "We had a great car all night long and kind of just hung around the leaders until it was time to go racing. I'm so glad that we made the decision to go racing in the Southeast Series this year and it's been well worth the while. I wouldn't change anything about this year if I could, except for maybe a bad race or two. We've had great year and I have to thank all the guys on this team as well as the great motors from Volunteer Racing Engines. You can't ask for a better season than what we had and I can't wait to get next season started."
Rounding out the top five in the final Montgomery finishing order were Justin Wakefield, Dusty Williams and Robert Richardson. The Top 10 was completed by Greg Pope, Josh Hamner, Johnny Brazier, Ricky Turner and Wayne Anderson.
If there's one thing you can say about Hogan it's the fact that he never gave up to the very end and when all the math was done and he was informed that he was second in the final Southeast Series standings.
"We did what we had to do tonight," Hogan says. "We won the pole and ran up front all night even though we cut down a tire and spun out one time. We still made it back up to the leaders and had a chance to win. We did everything we could do. I hated to see Fultz have bad luck but he had bad luck and made it a little closer than I think he would have wanted. I can't think of a better guy to lose the title to than Jeff Fultz because he has so much experience and is a great driver. I'm so proud of this team because we're the only team in the top-five that didn't win a race this year. That goes to show how consistent we really are and we've got something to build on heading into the future."
The final top-five in the Southeast Series standings behind Fultz and Hogan were Helton in third, Dusty Williams fourth and Norris in fifth. The Top 10 was completed by Wakefield, Kevin Prince, Pope, Allen Karnes and Richardson.
<pre> Top 10 Driver Points: Jeff Fultz 1843 Jason Hogan 1831 Gary Helton* 1822 Dusty Williams 1776 J R Norris 1744 Justin Wakefield 1737 Kevin Prince 1709 Greg Pope 1680 Allen Karnes 1636 Robert Richardson II 1459
* Denotes Sunoco Rookie of the Year Contender