South Boston, Va. (June 9) Planning,preparation and practice are all key ingredients to any race teams chances for victory each week. Ricky Bryant and the Washington Apple team did their homework by testing 2 weeks ago at South Boston Speedway to...
South Boston, Va. (June 9) Planning,preparation and practice are all key ingredients to any race teams chances for victory each week. Ricky Bryant and the Washington Apple team did their homework by testing 2 weeks ago at South Boston Speedway to prepare for Friday nights Goody's Dash race at the famed Virginia oval. Bryant, a former track champion at South Boston in 1995, was hoping to find an edge that could propel him and the team to their first victory of the year.Instead misfortune and circumstances turned out to have a bigger effect on Bryant's championship hopes for the 2000 Goody's Dash Series season. Bryant's planning seemed sound from his point of view as he approached Friday nights 125 lap race, " We have been having good finishes this season but we really want to get that first win of the year. South Boston and Orange County are two tracks where I have had success in the past so we wanted to put as much extra effort into theses two races as we could. It is a little too early in the season to start thinking about points and the championship. We just want to run up front and win some races. Besides the competition each and every week this year has been tough. In addition to Robert Huffman there are always 5 or 6 more teams with a chance for a win at every race." It turns out that was sound planning since Bryant and the Washington Apple team had to settle for an 11th place starting position for the evenings race even thought he was able to pick up almost a tenth of a second over his best practice time of the day. Even with the 11th place start Bryant still has a average starting position of 6.4 after the first 7 races of the season.
Once the green flag fell on the field Bryant managed to get settled in just trying the avoid the big wreck, and be in position after the mandatory pit stop, to get his first win of 2000. Being in mid pack of the 28 car field also did not help as that is where many of the wrecks occur. Bryant did not have to wait long because on lap 2 a multi car wreck took out a couple cars, including Dash Series points leader Robert Huffman. When the field went back to green Bryant raced his Washington Apple Pontiac as much as he could and managed to pick up a couple spots. Bryant commented "It's a fairly long race, and we do have to make a mandatory pit stop, so I just wanted to make sure the car was running good,and be in position to pick up some spots with a good pit stop, then be ready to race for the win." That is exactly what occurred because just after the 50 lap mark in the race when all the leaders pitted so did Bryant.The Washington Apple crew performed their duties perfectly as Bryant was able to pickup 4 positions, and he returned to the track in 4th place. From there Bryant had the opportunity he had hoped for. Unfortunately for him there were several other cars in front of him that had the same idea. Cam Stader, Roger Sawyer and Johnny Chapman all were in front of Bryant and they waged a great battle, along with Bryant, for the rest of the race. Ricky commented "I just could not get up there to really have a shot at the win tonight. Johnny,Cam, and Roger all had strong cars. The car was a little tight in the center of the turns. I could get close but I just was not able to make the pass. We had a good night overall. I wanted to make certain we got all the points we could with a solid finish. 4th place was the best we could do tonight" .With points leader Robert Huffman going out early Bryant was able to trim 66 points off Huffmans lead in the point standings. Unofficially Bryant is in 2nd place in the Goody's Dash standings 90 points behind Huffman with 11 races to go. Dash Series standout Johnny Chapman captured his first win of the 2000 season with a solid performance.
After the race Bryant looked at the evenings events realistically. "We are in the running to win a championship this year so I am very happy about our race. Robert had some bad luck tonight, just like we did at Daytona. I felt bad for him going out so early, I would have loved to race him for the win tonight, but he is going to be tough the rest of the year. We have to take advantage of every break that comes our way.Who knows he might go out now and win a few more races.I just want to be in position to win races and then race for the championship as the season comes down to the wire". The fourth place finish for Bryant was his 5th top five in 7 races this season. Bryant's average finish also improved to 7.3, second behind Huffman's 5.0 finishing average.
The Dash cars head back to Orange County Speedway ( Rougemont, NC ) this coming Saturday night, June 17th, to complete the rained out event. The Dash cars were able to qualify for the Orange County race but before the green flag flew the rains came and the event had to be rescheduled. Bryant and his # 5 Washington Apple Pontiac qualified 8th for the race that will take the green flag at about 8:30 PM. Bryant is the defending champion at Orange County by virtue of winning the last 2 Dash Series events at the 4/10 mile banked oval.
For more information on Ricky Bryant and the Washington Apple team check out their websites - www.bestapples.com - Click on the race team link. Or check out www.bgmotors.com