Jeff Fultz wins rain delayed NASCAR Elite Division Kodak Souhteast Series Myrtle Beach event. MYRTLE BEACH, S. C. (August 16 2003) - Anyone that missed the NASCAR Elite Division Kodak Southeast Series Time Warner 150 at Myrtle Beach Speedway ...
Jeff Fultz wins rain delayed NASCAR Elite Division Kodak Souhteast Series Myrtle Beach event.
MYRTLE BEACH, S. C. (August 16 2003) - Anyone that missed the NASCAR Elite Division Kodak Southeast Series Time Warner 150 at Myrtle Beach Speedway Saturday evening missed one of the most awesome short track events ever seen on the series.
Defending series champion Jeff Fultz showed what champion's are made of after he lost three laps on the restart of the first race caution, due to a transmission linkage problem, made up those laps and passed race leader Tim Sauter with 11 laps to run taking the checkered flag for the fourth time in 2003.
This event, originally scheduled for May 16 and rained out again in July was the eighth of a ten-race schedule for 2003.
Fultz's win coupled with points leader Charlie Bradberry's sixth place finish narrowed Bradberry's lead over Fultz to 52 points with two races remaining setting up a showdown between them for the 2003 series championship.
"WOW, can you believe it ," said a jubilant Fultz as he exited his car and stood on the roof. "Dang transmission linkage locked up and I could not shift so I knew I had to go to the pits. But to make up three laps on this field of cars is almost unblievable. That just shows you what kind of crew I have and how they prepare this car. I want to give a special thanks to Joe Shear Jr. for all the help he has provided this team. We are right where we were last year in this championship hunt and with two races to go anything is possible."
Finishing behind the winner was Sauter, Jason Hogan, leading Victory Circle Chassis Rookie-of-the-Year contender John Wilkinson III and Randy Gentry who turned in his best run of the 2003 campaign.
The 26 car field was set per the NASCAR rulebook when rain interrupted qualifying putting Bradberry at the point with his Bradberry Racing Chevrolet and Terry Mason Jr. on the outside front row in his CCC Group/M&R Pipe/Poston's Doors Chevrolet. Fultz started third in his C & C Boiler/Cleaver Brooks Chevrolet.
Bradberry and Mason went side by side on the first lap with Fultz going low in turn three on lap one to move into second and challenge Bradberry. Bradberry was able to lead the first lap but then it became Fultz's show.
Fultz opened a huge lead on Bradberry and Jason Hogan who was running third but all eyes were on Sauter who started 21st and by lap 18 has moved into the top ten.
The first caution waved on lap 26 when Johnny Brazier's Ford slowed on the backstretch. Greg Pope took his car high but got pinched against the outside wall ending his night of racing.
Fultz brought the field to the restart on lap 34 with Hogan in second, Bradberry third, John Wilkinson in fourth and Freddie Query in fifth. Query was filling in for Brian Smith who was ill. Sauter was up to ninth on the restart.
When Fultz took the green flag his car slowed giving the point to Hogan. Fultz went to the pits to the attention of his crew and in the process lost his three laps.
Hogan had his Universal Chevrolet/Hogan Motorsports Chevrolet running very strong and like Fultz opened a huge lead over the rest of the field. But again all eyes were on the Sauter Victor Ford/UPI Painting machine as he found the outside groove to his liking and on lap 53 had moved into the runnerup spot.
Fultz was able to get one of his laps back from Hogan on lap 65 before the second caution waved. Then using the next two cautions to his advantage with inside starting positions for lapped cars, Fultz made up another lap on the restart of the caution period.
Then on the restart of the third race caution Fultz made up another lap and put his car back at the tail end of the lead lap.
Sauter took the point away from Hogan on lap 91 as the two cars raced side by side on the frontstretch with Kevin Prince taking second from Hogan two laps later in his Land O'Frost/Uncle Yammy's Grillin Sauce Chevrolet.
But Prince's night ended abruptly when his car spun in turn four on lap 102 bringing out the fifth caution. "Our car was dialed in," said Prince after the race. "A universal joint broke on the car," said Randy Wilson, Prince's car owner. "I think we would certainly have been in contention to win this one the way Kevin was driving," continued Wilson.
The last 40 laps had the crowd on their feet as they watched Fultz put on a driving clinic. He had his car running sixth on lap 116 and 11 laps later was up to second looking for one more caution.
That happened on lap 131 when the Walter Sutcliffe car spun coming off of turn four also collecting the Billy McGinnis, Jarod Robie and Justin Wakefield machines. And all of this was right in front of the leaders. All the front runners were able to get through. On the restart Sauter got a good jump but Fultz's car was so strong coming off the corners. He moved in on Sauter's back bumper two laps later then into the lead on lap 139 as the two cars crossed the start finish line.
One final caution again bunched the field but Fultz's car was just too strong winning for consecutive visits to Myrtle Beach Speedway. Rounding out the top ten was Bradberry, Query, Steven Howard, Wayne Bowen with his best finish of the year and former series competitor Jody Lavender who now competes on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Sauter earned an extra $750 from the POWERAde "Power Move Of The Race Award" improving 19 positions during the race with Wilkinson the top finishing rookie contender.