GARY HELTON PICKS UP FIRST CAREER NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHEAST SERIES VICTORY FRIDAY NIGHT AT MUSIC CITY MOTORPLEX NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 15, 2005) -- It's always nice to see a first time winner in any kind of sport. Such was the...
GARY HELTON PICKS UP FIRST CAREER NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHEAST SERIES VICTORY FRIDAY NIGHT AT MUSIC CITY MOTORPLEX
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 15, 2005) -- It's always nice to see a first time winner in any kind of sport. Such was the case on Friday night at Music City Motorplex when rookie sensation Gary Helton picked up his first career NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series victory.
Helton grabbed the lead from Jason Hogan on Lap 86 -- ironically his car number -- and never looked back, even though a late-race caution allowed second-place finisher Kevin Prince a shot at his own first career Southeast Series win.
"This is a great and historic track to get my first Southeast Series win at and it means a lot to me," said Helton, a native of Sevierville, Tenn. "I'm just tickled to death to win. This is probably the best victory of my career. The Southeast Series is such a good series and I can't say enough about how special this track is."
Prince was pleased with his runner-up effort.
"Overall, it was a good finish to a bad start," said Prince, referring to a limited amount of practice due to a faulty fuel pump. "To be honest second-place feels like a win to me after the day we've had. I'm just thankful to be here."
Rounding out the top-five were Cecil Chunn, J.R. Norris and Greg Pope.
"The car got too tight on me there at the end, plus the temperature in the car got pretty hot so we had to make a pit stop to pull some tape off the front of the car," said Chunn. "This was a good third-place finish for us."
The racing action didn't long to get heated to put it mildly as there was a wild multi-car wreck coming off the second turn on the very first lap. The incident was triggered when Pat Brewer, who started second, got loose coming off the second turn and into the path of the entire field.
The wreck collected at least 10 cars, involving the top two Southeast Series championship contenders in the form of Dusty Williams and Jeff Fultz. Also involved were Chris Davidson, Don Young, Ken Weaver, Casey Smith, Gary Pedley, Eddie Stivers and Charlie Bradberry.
Justin Wakefield, who started on the pole after a six-car inversion, was able to escape the carnage along with the top-five of Jason Hogan, Helton, J.R. Norris and Allen Karnes.
The ensuing 25 laps saw a heated but very clean battle for the lead between Wakefield and Hogan until the second caution of the night came out for a solo spin by Alex Garcia in the fourth turn. Hogan and Wakefield used the restart to pick up their side-by-side battle through the first 50 laps before Helton moved into the picture.
Another championship contender in the form of Bud Pole winner Norris encountered some bad luck when he had to make an unscheduled pit stop and lost two laps. The third caution flag was displayed when Terry McMahan went for a solo spin in turn two just past the halfway point.
Helton grabbed the lead from Hogan coming off the fourth turn on Lap 86 with the top-five consisting of Kevin Prince, Cecil Chunn and Wakefield. Another championship contender in the form of Hogan took a blow in the points when he had rear end problems while running second. From that point on, it was basically a battle for second-place and Prince came out on top.
The Southeast Series returns to action next Saturday night at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C.