DUSTY WILLIAMS RETURNS TO SITE OF FIRST NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHEAST SERIES VICTORY SATURDAY NIGHT AT SOUTH BOSTON SPEEDWAY DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 22, 2006) -- The last time the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series...
DUSTY WILLIAMS RETURNS TO SITE OF FIRST NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHEAST SERIES VICTORY SATURDAY NIGHT AT SOUTH BOSTON SPEEDWAY
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 22, 2006) -- The last time the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series paid a visit to South Boston (Va.) Speedway, Dusty Williams accomplished a dream that he will never forget.
The popular 26 year-old Garden City, Ga. driver won his first career Southeast Series race.
"Every time I think about that night, I think that I should have stayed awake about an hour longer just to savor the moment even more," Williams says. "Every time since then when I'm racing and have a shot at winning, I flash back to that night at South Boston last year. Heading into Saturday night's race, I'm looking to go back to victory lane again. I think that would solidify last year's win."
Williams will be going for his second straight Southeast Series win this Saturday night at the famed short track in the Salute to Armed Forces 150. Not only did he win last year's race, but he did so in thrilling fashion over all-time Southeast Series win leader Jeff Fultz following a "green-white-checkered" finish.
"I was happy and glad at the way things were looking when I was leading, but at the same time I was wondering in the back of my mind what was going to go wrong," Williams explains. "I was wondering if something was going to break or I was going to make a mistake. Then we had a late caution which set up a green-white-checkered finish and I looked in my rearview mirror and saw Jeff Fultz was behind and I thought 'so this is how it's going to go wrong.'
"I got on the radio and told everybody that there was no way I was going to let him get past me -- I'd wreck the car before I let that happen. Luckily I didn't have to do that and I was able to go on and win my first Southeast Series race."
After climbing from his No. 40 Pennzoil Chevrolet, the crowd waiting to congratulate Williams was a long one with virtually every Southeast Series team and driver standing in line. Just after climbing from his car he was doused with a bucket of Gatorade not from his own team -- but from the team he just beat in the form of Fultz's JCR3 crew.
"That meant a lot," Williams says. "All the congratulations I got from all the teams and drivers meant a lot. Seeing all those people waiting to congratulate me truly let me know that I'd paid my dues and hadn't just got lucky. And in all honesty, there were three or four more races last year that we were in contention to win but had something go wrong that kept us from winning that second Southeast Series race."
Just to make sure he's going to have a car that's in contention for the victory Saturday night, Williams and his Dixie Racing team with new crew chief Gary Crooks tested at South Boston recently and came away smiling.
"We were faster than we were last year, so I'm really looking forward to Saturday night," Williams says. "For whatever reason, South Boston Speedway is really a track that seems to fit my driving style. It's a beautiful track and the fans in that area really love their racing. After my first race at South Boston, we were at this little restaurant that's not too far from the track. David Reutimann won the race and I finished somewhere near the back because I was just learning and couldn't believe how hard it was going to be for me to ever win.
"I watched his hauler drive by the restaurant and I thought to myself what an awesome feeling it must be to be headed home with the trophy. Then last year when I was in the truck leaving the race track with (crew member) Will Mallard, I passed by that very same restaurant and I looked over and thought to myself here I am four years later and I'm leaving with the trophy. It was like I'd finally done it. Every time I pass by that restaurant I think about my first night there and how far I've come since then."
It was also an emotional night last year in victory lane for the family-owned Dixie Racing team.
"I had about seven or eight members of my family along with my wife and daughter," Williams says. "Earlier in the afternoon, I went out of the track and reserved a parking spot so they could see the track. Then when I won the pole, I asked our public relations guy if I could borrow the Bud Pole plaque for just a minute and he said that was fine. I walked over to where they were sitting and waved at them. When I got their attention I held that plaque over my head to let them see what I'd done. I'll never forget the look on my wife's face -- it was like 'You're kidding me.'
"Then after the race and I'd gotten through technical inspection, I walked out of the track and I'll never forget the look on everybody's face because they were so proud of me. That really made me feel good and I'll never forget that night. I don't think I'll ever get that feeling again, but I'd like to win again this Saturday night and see if I'm right."