Southern National: Race report

Cam Strader breaks through with win at home track. KENLY, NC (July 29, 2002) - Cam Strader, of nearby Wilson, NC, put the moves on the other front runners to claim his first victory of the 2002 Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring campaign in ...

Cam Strader breaks through with win at home track.

KENLY, NC (July 29, 2002) - Cam Strader, of nearby Wilson, NC, put the moves on the other front runners to claim his first victory of the 2002 Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring campaign in Saturday night's AYCOCK AUTO AUCTION "150" at Southern National Speedway. "I look forward to being here and racing in front of the home crowd. It gives a driver a real boost of confidence when you know there are fans and friends in the stands pulling for you to win," Strader said.

Southern National Speedway was packed with racecars and race fans last Saturday night. Several of the track's other divisions also competed in an evening that was hot and humid and under the threat of showers. But, the fans still turned out, undaunted by the high temperatures.

Justin Hobgood set the pace, in Bud Pole Qualifying, with a lap time of 15.906 seconds (90.532 mph). The Goody's Dash Series uses a pre-race draw to bring additional excitement to the complexion of the NASCAR Touring events. The Bud Pole Winner randomly draws a Budweiser bottle cap with either a number four, six, or eight to determine how many drivers will redraw for their starting positions. Saturday, Hobgood's blind draw determined that the top eight drivers would redraw for position. Justin drew the number five. Robert Huffman was the last to draw and was lucky enough to find the top starting spot remaining.

On the initial start, Robert Huffman and Scott Weaver brought the field to the green flag. Weaver missed a shift and caused the outside line to bunch up like an accordion. Jake Hobgood actually made contact with Weaver's rear bumper but both drivers quickly regained their composure.

First Caution came on lap 4 when Eric Wilson looped his car exiting turn four.

On the restart Huffman, Jay Godley, and Justin Hobgood quickly separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Weaver, Cam Strader, and Jake Hobgood were running in the fourth through sixth positions. Early on, Huffman was able to hold off several advances by Justin Hobgood. Huffman held on to the lead until he pitted for fuel during the second caution period.

This second segment of the race produced plenty of excitement for the fans. From daring moves to three-wide passing entering and exiting the turns, the Goody's Dash Series drivers displayed skill and race savvy while putting on a fabulous show for those in attendance.

Battling for position was commonplace deep into the field. Weaver and Jake Hobgood weaved in and out of lapped cars trying to stay close to the leaders. Former teammates Randy Humphrey and Johnny Chapman put on quite a dual for several laps. During the 2000 season, Humphrey fielded a second car for Chapman. Not only a former Champion in the Goody's Dash Series, but Chapman also has experience at several levels of NASCAR competition, including NASCAR's premiere Winston Cup Series. Humphrey held off Chapman's charge for several laps until his car just got so loose that he could no longer keep it on the bottom. Chapman started the event in the last position due to not making a qualifying attempt. He steadily worked his way through the field, enduring the occasional battle such as the one with Humphrey, finding himself as high as fourth place.

While working lap 52, Jay Godley looped his car exiting turn two. The leaders headed for pit road as soon as it was opened by NASCAR. Chuck Gafrarar opted to stay on the track and inherit the lead. Once the race went back to green, Gafrarar went unchallenged for several laps, since everyone behind him was busy racing for position.

Third place, Justin Hobgood was stronger on the restarts than was Huffman. It would take two to three laps before Huffman could put some distance between him and Hobgood. Once Huffman was able to break away he immediately went after Gafrarar. Gafrarar's car seemed to slip wide coming out of turn two allowing several of the front runners to move passed him.

Cam Strader continued to move into position to race with the leaders. Several caution periods came during the middle stages of the race. Each restart unleashed yet more battles for position. There was never a lap without action. This was much more than a follow the leader freight train. Several drivers gunned for that coveted Goody's Dash Series win. Strader rocketed into the lead on lap 98 and never looked back.

Scott Weaver lost the handle on his car on lap 116 looping it as he exited turn four. He quickly rejoined the field after losing several positions.

Joey Miller, who has not raced since Daytona in February, showed that he had not lost any of his racing prowess and he dove underneath Johnny Chapman to take the fourth spot away. The pass came on lap 126 entering turn three. Miller moved his car along side Chapman in the middle of the turn. It appeared that Chapman tried to hold Miller low and the two cars banged door handles sending up a plume of smoke. Chapman's car went into a slide as Miller continued without missing a beat. Chapman brought his car to pit road as the caution flag was displayed for the fifth time. His crew checked over his #33 Douglas Trucking Pontiac and sent him back on the track. Unfortunately he lost two laps on pit road, which virtually put him out of contention for the win.

Strader commented in victory lane that his success at Southern National Speedway comes from understanding out to work the set up on the car. "You cannot use the setup you practice with during the day. It tends to be hot and sticky and when the track cools down at night, it takes a different setup. We took a look at the weather forcast and setup our car based on what we thought the conditions would be at race time. Tonight we guessed right and it really made a difference for us."

Strader went on to say, "I have a lot of confidence in how these guys race around me. I know that they are going to race me clean. That confidence allows us to dice it up and put on a great show for the fans."

Both Hobgood's agreed that in the end they really had nothing for Strader. It came down to tire management and several of the drivers admitted they used their tires up too early in the event. "I really want to congratulate Cam and his guys. They have really struggled all year and tonight they finally got it to go their way. They deserve that and we are happy for them," Jake said. "Cam was stroll'n fast tonight," Justin added.

Huffman added, "We had a good car tonight. I was lucky to draw the top spot. The track is greasy and slick and I had to run so hard up off the corners just to keep up with these guys. They just have more than me right now. But, we will figure out what we have to do to get back to victory lane."

The top ten finishers: 1. Cam Strader, 2. Justin Hobgood, 3. Jake Hobgood, 4. Robert Huffman, 5. Joey Miller, 6. Brian Loftin, 7. Randy Humphrey, 8. Zach Brewer, 9. Danny Bagwell, 10. Scott Weaver.

Robert Huffman won the Gatorade Front Runner Award and Brian Loftin was the Mag Clip Rookie of the Race.

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Cam Strader , Jay Godley , Robert Huffman , Johnny Chapman , Joey Miller , Justin Hobgood