MAYETTA, Kan. (July 20, 2002) - What a difference a night can make in the O'Reilly Auto Parts/NCRA Modified Division presented by Dirt Works Speedweek! Friday night at Humboldt (Kan.) Speedway, Curt Fulps finished 20th and last in the A feature.
MAYETTA, Kan. (July 20, 2002) - What a difference a night can make in the O'Reilly Auto Parts/NCRA Modified Division presented by Dirt Works Speedweek!
Friday night at Humboldt (Kan.) Speedway, Curt Fulps finished 20th and last in the A feature. Saturday night at Thunderhill Speedway in Mayetta, Kan., the same Curt Fulps led all 25 laps to claim his first-ever A feature win in the final race of the NCRA Modifieds Speedweek.
Fulps had a good night from the get-go. His draw placed him sixth in heat two but he moved up four spots to finish second behind Johnny Bone, Jr. That put Fulps on the outside of the first row for the A feature, a good place to be considering the high road was the one to take Saturday night.
"I knew from watching the previous race the top would be the preferred line," Fulps said. I figured I wanted to get as good of a start as I could on (pole sitter Todd) Myers and stay with him, at least not let him get away from me."
For Curt, his plan worked even better than he anticipated. He jumped to the front early, going past Myers for the lead on the backstretch of the first lap. From there, it was simply a matter of not letting anyone get around him.
"I really drove what I considered a little hard on the first two laps," Fulps said. "I kinda laid back a little bit until I actually saw someone, which was later in the race."
Myers initially was content to run second, followed by the numbers three and four starters - Jim Simpson, a local driver from Topeka, Kan., and Dave Hardesty.
On lap three, Hardesty moved around both of them into second, trying to keep pace with Fulps. The two of them quickly put a little distance between themselves and the third place car.
The only caution flag of the race came out on lap five. On the restart, the top five was Fulps still in first, followed by Hardesty, Myers, Brian Franz and Bone. But not even having his challengers bunched up right behind him for a restart fazed Fulps this night.
"Until someone could show me they could get around me going through the middle or the bottom, I was going to stay right where I was," Fulps said.
When the green fell again, the top five remained the same, with some slight variations, for most of the race.
Running the low line early, Franz moved around Myers and Hardesty into second on lap six, only to give it back to Hardesty on the next lap. Myers faded to fifth and then out of the top five, with Scott Drake, who started 12th, taking over fifth place.
By now everyone was pretty strung out around the four-tenths high-banked oval with Fulps leading by as many as five car lengths. Hardesty remained in second, followed by Bone, Franz and Drake.
"I didn't think my car would run down low so I choose to stay where I was," Hardesty said. "I was taking it easy, just trying to hold onto second."
Although the top five remained essentially the same for most of the race, they often got three wide going through the corners, allowing Fulps to sneak a peak at who was behind him as a reminder that he wasn't alone on the track.
"I saw Franz pull up next to me late in the race," Fulps said. "That's when I knew that regardless of what condition my tires were in, I had to get on it as hard as I could."
Franz wasn't the only driver who could pull alongside Fulps but none of them could ever get around him.
"I could get up to Fulps but my car was just a little loose and wanted to jump sideways when I tried to come off the corner hard," Hardesty said.
As the laps wound down, Fulps settled in, focused on the task at hand and easily took the checker for the win.
"I really couldn't tell anyone was behind me the last couple of laps. When I saw the white flag, I went into a mode where I didn't want to mess up, so I kinda laid back a little," Fulps said. "I wanted to make sure I was got through the corners smooth and not have any problems."
Hardesty finished second as most everyone found the high side to their liking, especially late in the race.
"I just choose to keep it straight and drive," Hardesty said, "hoping Fulps would make a mistake, but he didn't."
Third place went to Bone, who found it tough to get around anyone once he caught the leaders.
"It was taking enough rubber up high to be an advantage," Bone said. "It was tough to pass, especially later on in the race."
Franz was fourth with Drake fifth. Marc Robe, second in the season points before this weekend, finished sixth after starting 10th. Travis Patch, running on his home track, was seventh, followed by Myers, season and Speedweek points leader Gregg Skaggs and Brad Johnston to round out the top 10.
Scott Green won the D feature in a tight battle with Leon Bidinger. Both drivers ended up advancing to the A feature where Bidinger, a local driver from Perry, Kan., was 13th and Green 15th. Drake outlasted Brian Powers and Bidinger to win the C feature from the outside of the first row. Skaggs advanced to the A feature by winning the B from the pole over Drake.
Fulps, from Wichita, Kan., started the weekend eighth in points overall and third in Speedweek points.
Track favorite and defending season points champion at Thunderhill, Kerry Davis, didn't compete at his home track as the tires on his racecar didn't meet NCRA requirements.