HICKORY, N.C. (April 3, 2004) -- Ten NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series teams descended on historic Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday, for a final pre-season practice session and a chance to provide Hickory's fans with a preview of...
HICKORY, N.C. (April 3, 2004) -- Ten NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series teams descended on historic Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday, for a final pre-season practice session and a chance to provide Hickory's fans with a preview of the April 24 Southeast Series event at Hickory.
Participating drivers included 2002 series champion Jeff Fultz, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Auto Meter rookie of the year contestants Michael Faulk, of Gainesville, Fla., JR Norris, of Mulga, Ala., and Randy Pedley, of Owensboro, Ky. Also attending were Michael Britt, of Cumming, Ga., Johnny Brazier, of Lickskillet, Ala., Allen Karnes, of Sharpsburg, Ga., Kevin Prince, of Wilmington, N.C., Justin Wakefield, of Woodstock, Ga., and Dusty Williams, of Garden City, Ga.
Reutimann On-hand to Help Faulk ... David Reutimann, a fast-rising star in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, attended Saturday's practice session with his former team -- the No. 00 Pennzoil Chevrolet-Wakely Motorsports team. Reutimann's former ride is now occupied by rookie Michael Faulk, who, like Reutimann, is a second-generation driver with experience throughout Florida's short track scene.
"It's kind a new deal for Mike and I had the opportunity to come over here and help him out a little bit," said Reutimann, "Although I've never been here [to Hickory] before, I just wanted to help get him acclimated to what's going to happen, so when he gets to the first race of the season, it's not so new to him and he'll be a little more comfortable."
Reutimann, a native of Zephyrhills, Fla. now residing in Troutman, N.C., has crossed paths with Faulk in previous years and maintains a close connection to the No. 00 team.
"A lot of times, when I was running Late Models Mike would be running Limited Late Models at the same track and I got the opportunity to see him race," said Reutimann. "That's why, when it came to replacing me in this car, you look for somebody with the same background that you had, someone that's built their own stuff and knows how to work on their own stuff. "
"I think he's got a real good shot at winning the rookie of the year and he's got a shot at winning some races. They've got really good cars and a really good team. Obviously, I think they team is capable of winning and Michael has won in all kinds of cars that he's been."
Reutimann has led Toyota's debut in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition, driving the No. 17 Toyota Tundra owned by NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip.
Reutimann, who won Toyota's first Bud Pole award at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March, says racing in the Southeast Series helped him prepare for the Craftsman Truck Series.
"Toyota's motor program is getting better, our team is getting stronger and I'm starting to learn a little bit," said Reutimann. "The Craftsman Truck Series is no different than this series, in the sense that you can't unload bad and, in the span of the practice you have, expect to pick it up. It's important to come out of the box with a good car, no matter what series you're in. A lot of our success has been in having good equipment.
"There are more demands on your time in the Craftsman Truck Series, but it's not overwhelming. It's exciting. After all, that's what you work for, that's what the Southeast Series is designed to do.
* Talking History at Hickory ... When the Southeast Series returns to Hickory April 24, it will mark the second time the series has held a race at the famous 0.363-mile oval. The last and only previous time the Southeast Series (formerly known as the All Pro Series) competed at Hickory was September 19, 1995. Ron Barfield Jr. won the Bud Pole award and the race that day, while some of the series' biggest names rounded out the top five. Billy Bigley Jr. finished second, followed by Eddie Goodson, Rick Crawford and Freddie Query in fifth-place. Naturally, Barfield's qualifying lap of 14.577 seconds (89.648 mph) stands as a Southeast Series track record.
* Norris Tops in Afternoon Practice ... JR Norris, driver of the No. 5 Ford owned by Richie Wauters, led the first round of Saturday's Southeast Series practice with an unofficial fast lap of 15.04 seconds (86.888 mph). Other early Saturday speeds were as follows: Allen Karnes -- 15.28 seconds, Jeff Fultz -- 15.30 seconds, Kevin Prince -- 15.40 seconds, Johnny Brazier -- 15.45 seconds, Dusty Williams -- 15.46 seconds, Michael Faulk -- 15.48 seconds, Justin Wakefield -- 15.48 seconds, Randy Pedley -- 15.54 seconds. Not wanting to push their luck, the No. 5 team loaded up their race car and left before the Southeast Series completed its second round of practice Saturday evening. Norris stayed to participate in an autograph session with fans.
* Crew chief change ... Steve Pearson will be the new crew chief for Dusty Williams' No. 40 Dixie Excavating team in 2004. Pearson has experience with Super Late Model racing at Georgia's Lanier National Speedway and other area tracks.
* Tickets Available For April 24 ... Tickets are still available for the April 24 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series "150" at Hickory. Fans can contact Hickory Motor Speedway for more information at (828) 464-3655 or visit www.hickorymotorspeedway.com on the World Wide Web.