FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SEPTEMBER 7, 1997 HUFFMAN VICTORIOUS AT ST. AUGUSTINE INAUGURAL Robert Huffman of Claremont, N.C. drove his White House Apple Juice sponsored No. 37, Pontiac Sunfire to a marvelous come...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SEPTEMBER 7, 1997
HUFFMAN VICTORIOUS AT ST. AUGUSTINE INAUGURAL
Robert Huffman of Claremont, N.C. drove his White House Apple Juice sponsored No. 37, Pontiac Sunfire to a marvelous come from behind victory in Saturday night's Northeast Florida Gold Star Dodge Dealers 100 at St. Augustine Speedway in St. Augustine, Fl. The Rodney Orr Memorial event marked the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series' inaugural appearance at the beautiful St. Augustine half mile. Brian Sockwell, of Brown Summit, N.C. got the fans up out of their seats early with a record setting 17.827 second lap during qualifying to put his No. 54 C&C Boiler / Cleaver Brooks Pontiac on the pole for the fifth time this season. Sockwell's earlier win at Daytona International Speedway in February before many of these same fans, and his three straight victories going into this event, seemed to cast him as one of the pre-race favorites among the fans as the field was put on the grid for the start of the 100 lap feature. As Bart Orr, the brother of the late Rodney Orr and honorary starter for this event displayed the green flag to the field, Mike Swaim Jr., of High Point, N.C. jumped from his outside front row starting position and riding the untested outside groove, powered ahead of the pole sitter, Sockwell to lead the first lap. But Sockwell was able to gather up his momentum and quickly forged his way back around Swaim to claim the lead on lap two. Sockwell held the advantage for the next 16 laps, until 1995 Series Champion, David Hutto, of Rock Hill, S.C., using an incredible inside move in heavy traffic, took the leaders three wide through turns three and four and took over the lead. By lap 21, Hutto's lead was being seriously challenged by Robert Huffman who had moved up quickly from his fifth starting position. In the extremely tight racing amongst the lead pack of cars, Huffman got a slight touch from Sockwell as the leaders swept down into turn one. As a result of the action, Huffman wound up spinning his Pontiac in turn two, bringing out the first of four caution periods of the evening and forcing him to restart the race at the rear of the field. Huffman used his vast racing experience and an absolutely awesome race car to work his way back through the field, and on lap 71, the 1990 Series Champion and Rookie of the Year passed Hutto to take the lead. Huffman was able to stretch his advantage over the next 24 laps, but when a late race caution bunched the field for the green, white, checker finish, Huffman was again, forced to fight off a determined David Hutto and Brian Sockwell in order to pull off the close win. "This car has been awesome at every race this year." said Huffman in victory lane. "It just seemed like little things kept jumping up and biting us. Maybe this win will turn things around for us and we can finish strong here at the end of the year." Behind Huffman, Hutto and Sockwell, Will Hobgood, who also had to fight his way back to the front following a spin in the early stages of the race, and Mike Swaim Jr. were the first five cars across the stripe. Finishing sixth, current Rookie point leader, Charles Powell III was the top finishing rookie contender. Jake Hobgood, Ned Combs and two more Rookie of the Year challengers, Ricky Bryant and Robert Luckadoo rounded out the top ten. David Hutto, the race leader on lap fifty, collected the Half Way Leader award for his efforts in addition to his second place share of the posted awards. The special Half Way Award was posted by Beecher Orr, the father of the 1994 NASCAR Goody's Dash Series Champion, Rodney Orr in Rodney's memory. Sockwell's third place finish and Mike Swaim Jr.'s fifth place finish in this week's Northeast Florida Gold Star Dodge Dealers 100 allowed Sockwell to take another ten points off Swaim's advantage in the Series point battle. As the Series heads into the final four races of the year, the Championship race is closer and more in question than it has been at any time since mid season. The next event for the Series brings them to one of the stalwart venues on the NASCAR Goody's Dash Series schedule, the Hickory Motor Speedway. The historic Hickory, N.C. oval will play host to the American General Finance 100 on September 20. This race will be tape delayed on ESPN 2 Wednesday evening at 10:00 pm and will mark the fourth nationally televised race for the Series this year. Once again, more than 40 entries are expected to pack the Hickory Motor Speedway infield for this event and the race is anticipated to be pivotal in the crowning of the 1997 NASCAR Goody's Dash Series Champion in November. -30- For further information, contact; NASCAR Public Relations, Tim Myers at 919-552-5823.