Daytona Beach, Fla. (August 29 2003) - It will be crunch time for Charlie Bradberry and Jeff Fultz when the NASCAR Elite Division, Kodak Southeast Series returns to Kentucky Motor Speedway in Whitesville, Ky., on September 13 for...
Daytona Beach, Fla. (August 29 2003) - It will be crunch time for Charlie Bradberry and Jeff Fultz when the NASCAR Elite Division, Kodak Southeast Series returns to Kentucky Motor Speedway in Whitesville, Ky., on September 13 for the $53,328 Kentucky 150.
These two drivers are challenging each other for supremacy on the Kodak Southeast Series for 2003. Bradberry leads Fultz by 52 markers entering this race with one final event remaining at Greenville-Pickens Speedway September 20.
Who will have the upper hand as the series returns to the 3/8-mile oval for their second appearance of the season? From all indications the bar would have to swing to Fultz since he won here on June 28 in the first stop for the series since 1988 at this facility. Fultz has been to victory lane three other times during the year making him the third winningest driver in series history.
But consistency has always been an important factor in any endeavor and after eight races of a 10-race schedule, Bradberry leads all competitors with an outstanding 99.20% laps completion percentage. Fultz, on the other hand has had some problems, and is ranked seventh in that category after completing 88.90% of the laps run.
Bradberry, the 2001 series rookie-of-the- year, has led the series points following the superspeedway event at Kentucky Speedway on June 13.
Bradberry won his first career Bud Pole Award and his first NASCAR victory at Nashville Superspeedway in June and that performance has propelled him to the top of his peers. Ironically, Bradberry moved to the top of the points ladder in 2002 after the fourth race on the schedule.
There has been some shifting of points positions since the June event but the points standing remains very competitive. Only 48 points separate second through fifth in points with Victory Circle Chassis Rookie-of-the-Year points leader John "Boy" Wilkinson III, trailing Fultz by just 25 points. Wilkinson, no stranger to short track competition, would like nothing better then to become the first driver to win both rookie and championship honors in the same year.
Wilkinson, who calls Hueytown, Ala. home, has won numerous awards in his racing career and credits much of his success to the help he received from Bobby Allison, Red Farmer, and the late Neil Bonnett of the famous Alabama Gang.
Ten points behind Wilkinson, in fourth, is Jason Hogan last years Rookie-of-the-Year winner and only 23 points behind Wilkinson is his brother-in-law Terry Mason Jr.
"We are just going to suck it up and concentrate on these next two races," commented Bradberry. This team has worked very hard this year to put us in the position of winning the championship and I am going to do everything I can to make it happen. The work of this team is shown in the consistency we have had this season. Last year we fell off at the end of the year and had some mechanical problems but this year with everyone behind this effort we are on top of our game. Thanks to the hard work of crew chief Michael Shelton and the rest of the crew half of our finishes have been top fives and six of eight have been top tens. There is no doubt Jeff (Fultz) and I are going down to the wire for this championship."
This event is the ninth of a ten race schedule for 2003 and will be pivotal in shaping the series points standing toward the end of year Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. The top ten drivers in the final series points in the four series of the NASCAR Elite Division will be invited to participate in a history making event that will bring national recognition to NASCAR's short track drivers with posted awards of approximately $500,000. The highlight of weekend racing activities will be a nationally-televised 100 lap event on Saturday, Nov. 8 with $10,000 going to the winner.
Randy Gentry established the qualifying mark for the series when he toured the 3/8-mile oval with a lap of 15.690 secs (86.042 mph) while Fultz set the race record with an average speed of 56.001 mph. The race in June had eight cautions for 50 laps.
Parity has been very evident on the series this year with seven different drivers adding their name to the NASCAR record books winning Bud Pole Awards. One race was set per the NASCAR rulebook due to inclement weather. Race winners have been Bradberry at Nashville Superspeedway, Scott Carlson at Kentucky Speedway, Jeff Fultz at Big Daddy's South Boston Speedway, Ocala Speedway, Myrtle Beach Speedway and Kentucky Motor Speedway, Steven Howard at Greenville-Pickens Speedway and Shane Sieg at Huntsville Speedway.
Parity has also been seen in the POWERade "Power Move Of The Race Award", which goes to the driver advancing the most positions in a race. Eight different drivers have won the $750 award:
A very tight points battle is looming between Wilkinson, Terry Mason Jr., Cecil Chunn and Justin Wakefield for the Victory Circle Chassis Rookie of the Year title. Two points separate Wilkinson and Mason with seven points separating all four drivers. All are expected to enter this event.
Action gets underway at Kentucky Motor Speedway for Kodak Southeast Series drivers on Saturday, September 13, with practice from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. Qualifying will take place at 6:00 p.m. with The Kentucky 150 taking the green flag at 8:30 p.m.