SES: Nashville: Nashville race report

Charlie Bradberry leads Wire to wire at Nashville Superspeedway to score his first career NASCAR win. LEBANON, TN. (June 7 2003) - One year ago Charlie Bradberry was on his way to his first NASCAR Touring Series victory when Ryan Hemphill ...

Charlie Bradberry leads Wire to wire at Nashville Superspeedway to score his first career NASCAR win.

LEBANON, TN. (June 7 2003) - One year ago Charlie Bradberry was on his way to his first NASCAR Touring Series victory when Ryan Hemphill passed Bradberry's Chevrolet in turn two, on the white flag lap, to win at Nashville. Bradberry was not going to let that happen again. The 20-year old driver from Chelsea, Al. came to Nashville this year with one thought in his mind and that was to have redemption from last year's loss.

Bradberry was literally the class of the field for the NASCAR Elite Division, Kodak Southeast Series Bob Harmon Memorial Sunbelt Rentals 125 at Nashville Superspeedway, setting a new qualifying mark on Friday, leading all 100 laps of the race and putting his Bradberry Chevrolet in victory lane on Saturday night.

The race was originally set for Friday evening but inclement weather postponed the race until after the NASCAR Busch Series Trace Adkins Chrome 300 on Saturday night.

"I really don't know what to say," commented Bradberry in victory lane. "I have never done this before but I can say for certain this is the biggest moment in my racing career."

"I owe everything to my family," Bradberry said. "My dad has supported my racing just as he did with my brother Gary. And Gary played a big part in his win because of his superspeedway experience. My car got stronger as the race progressed and I know it was the way Gary taught me how to roll into the corners, when to get back on the gas and come off the corners."

Bradberry went the distance without making a pit stop but he was concerned about fuel. " I tried to conserve by working the gas pedal and asking where the second place car was. I know I had a huge lead on Mercer but you never count him out."

"Michael Shelton, my crew chief, had the car set up perfectly. We used the same setup we had last year and I know we should have won that race. We were strong then and we were strong tonight," continued Bradberry. Finishing behind Bradberry's Chevrolet was "Fast" Eddie Mercer with his Phoenix Construction/Everwood Treatment Chevrolet, Scott Carlson with his Advance Construction/Hamner Engines Chevrolet, Gary Helton with an outstanding run in his Volunteer Performance Racing Engines Chevrolet and Ray Skillman with his Dupont/Kendall Oil Ford.

Bradberry, the 2001 ROY with this series, led 36 other competitors in qualifying by setting a new qualifying mark of 32.208 Secs (148.994 mph) to erase the old mark set by Jeff Fultz last year. Starting outside front row with Bradberry was Ray Skillman, A. J. Frank qualified third fastest with Fultz starting fourth and Gary Helton starting fifth. Turn four at the speedplant was a nemesis for four drivers who failed to qualify for the race due to accidents in practice and qualifying. Stanley Smith's car made contact with the turn four wall during practice and slid down the track collecting Billy Bigley's Peerless Woodworking Chevrolet. Then during qualifying runs, the cars of Randy Gentry and Erik Darnell made hard contact with the turn four wall, ending their weekend racing.

The race had one caution for 7 laps and that occurred on the first lap, again in turn four, when David Reutimann and Mercer's cars rubbed. Reutimann was on the outside trying to get to the front from his sixth starting spot when the two cars touched sending Reutimann's car into the outside wall. Also collected in that incident were the cars of Brian Smith and Billy Parker. All three retired from the race. When racing resumed Bradberry and Fultz were the two strong cars opening a huge margin over Frank, Helton, Mercer and Benny Gordon. Fultz fell off the pace on lap 19 going to the pits with a broken right front wheel with Mercer, Helton, Gordon, Frank and Skillman challenging each other for second.

The setup on Bradberry's car was excellent and at times the Chelsea, Al. driver had ¼ of the track lead over Mercer. "I hardly had to turn the wheel,"said Bradberry after the race.

Carlson was the man on a mission this night. He had also experienced problems in qualifying and did not record any time causing him to start at the rear of the field. At the half way mark he was running in the top ten. On lap 61 he was running sixth and six laps later he was up to fourth.

Bradberry maintained a very comfortable margin on the rest of the field crossing the finish line two seconds ahead of Mercer. Rounding out the top ten drivers were Greg Pope, Victory Circle Chassis Rookie-of-the-Year leader John Wilkinson III, Frank, Travis Geisler and Roger Parker.

Wilkinson was the highest finishing rookie contender. Carlson by improving 30 positions in the race earned the POWERAde "Power Move Of The Race" Award of $750.

The next event for the Kodak Southeast Series will be The Lexington Herald-Leader presents The Kentucky 150. this Friday evening at Kentucky Speedway.

Race Statistics:

Time of Race: 1 Hr. 01 Mins. 30 Secs
Winner's Average Speed: 130.049 mph
Margin of Victory: 2.316 Secs
Caution Flags: 1 Cautions For 7 Laps
Lead Changes: No Lead Changes
Lap Leaders: Charlie Bradberry, 1-100
PowerAde "Power Move Of The Race Award" Scott Carlson
Victory Circle Chassis Rookie-of-the-Race: John Wilkinson III

NASCAR Elite Division, Kodak Southeast Series Top 10 Points Standing: As Of June 7 2003; (Unofficial)
1. Jeff Fultz, 436
2. Charlie Bradberry
-- John Wilkinson III, 419
4. Dusty Williams, 409
5. Steven Howard, 401
6. Johnny Brazier, 392
7. A. J. Frank, 389
8. Cecil Chunn, 385
9. Jason Hogan, 380
10. Terry Mason, Jr., 369.


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Drivers Billy Bigley , David Reutimann , Jeff Fultz , Ryan Hemphill , Billy Parker , Charlie Bradberry , Travis Geisler , Erik Darnell , John Wilkins , Eddie Mercer
Teams Williams