NEWPORT, TENNESSEE - Scott Kilby, of Statesville, North Carolina, driving the A&H Windows Chevrolet Monte Carlo set the quick time in qualifying, started on the pole and won the Thunder in the Mountains 250, American Racing Association (ARA) Kool...
NEWPORT, TENNESSEE - Scott Kilby, of Statesville, North Carolina, driving the A&H Windows Chevrolet Monte Carlo set the quick time in qualifying, started on the pole and won the Thunder in the Mountains 250, American Racing Association (ARA) Kool Seal Challenge Series event, at Newport Speedway on Saturday night, October 20. In a race that saw five lead changes among four drivers, Kilby finally emerged as the winner of the $5000 first place money in the final ten laps of the event. It was Kilby's fifth win of the season.
Sixteen year-old Danny O'Quinn, Jr., from Coeburn, Virginia, in the O'Quinn Trailer Sales Chevrolet looked to be the fastest driver in time trials, until Scott Kilby - the final car to qualify - turned the high-banked 4/10th-mile track with a final lap of 13.218 seconds. Kilby's fast lap nudged O'Quinn to the outside of the front row. Kilby won the Battery Supply of Virginia Pole Award and started on the inside of the front row for the 250-lap event.
"The bonus points for the pole took the pressure off of us as far as the series championship," Kilby said. "Because of the reputation of the toughness of this track we decided to start up front and hopefully stay out of trouble. At that point, the only way to lose the championship was to be the first car out of the race."
At the fall of the green flag, the challenge was on as Danny O'Quinn raced from his outside position into a brief lead on the first lap. Kilby regained the front spot on the second lap as a tight pack pushed and shoved for position behind the race leader.
There were eight cautions, including a competition caution at the halfway mark in the 250-lap race. The most critical for the points championship was the third yellow flag which came on lap 45 as Keith Bumgarner, of Conover, North Carolina, second in points coming into the race, tangled with Scott Campbell, of Clyde, North Carolina, while racing for position.
Bumgarner had qualified eighth in the Country Chair Ford Taurus and had suffered with brake problems throughout the race. The accident ended Bumgarner's championship hopes. Until that point, Bumgarner had finished every lap of every ARA Kool Seal Challenge Series race during the entire 2001 season.
By lap 69, Keith Stiltner, from Grundy, Virginia, in the Race Mining Pontiac had worked his way from a sixth place starting spot into the lead. Stiltner held the lead through the competition caution at halfway and on through lap 168 when he fell out of the event with an overheating racecar.
"I ran over a piece of drive shaft or something when the caution came out for the 122 car (Dennis Queen of Waynesville, NC)," Stiltner said. "This was a tough race to get to the lead, and even tougher to keep the lead."
As Stiltner slowed, Stephen Leicht, from Asheville, North Carolina, in the Action Racing Collectables Ford Taurus went to the front, but was passed before the start-finish line by defending series champion Greg Marlowe, from Troutman, North Carolina. Marlowe, in the Southern Pride Chevrolet Monte Carlo, led from lap 169 until lap 240 when he coasted into the pits with a blown motor.
After falling as far behind as sixth position, Scott Kilby had climbed back into second spot. When Marlowe brought out the final caution, Kilby regained the lead and went on to win.
"Fifty laps from the end, we didn't think we'd win this race," Kilby said. "My car got too loose in the first half of the race. I really had to run too hard early to try and keep the lead. After a while, I just had to slow down to keep from spinning out. In the first part of the second half we weren't real pleased with the changes we had made to the car. But, it came around."
Finishing in second was Lee Tissot from Arden, North Carolina in the Madison Florist Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Tissot started 14th in the car owned and driven on a weekly basis at Newport by Mitch West.
"I had a pretty good car," Tissott said following his career best ARA finish. "The only problem we had was a spin with Mark Ketron. He got a little excited and we got together. He really didn't mean to do it. The racing was just that close all night. Late in the race, the other cars started sliding sideways and mine didn't. I guess that's because I'm used to running these 250 lappers."
Ketron, from Kingsport, Tennessee, driving the McDonalds Chvrolet Monte Carlo also recovered from the caution on lap 114 to finish third - also a career best ARA finish. Westley Huffman, from Blythewood, South Carolina, finish fourth in the Pre-Paid Legal Chevrolet. And, Tim Weaver from Statesville, North Carolina, in the Got Jesus Chevrolet finished fifth.
The victory clinched the 2001 ARA Kool seal Challenge Series Championship for Kilby. It is the first national title for the veteran stock car racer.
"I'd just like to express my appreciation to the people that started this series and those that are working to see it continue to grow," Kilby said. "I always knew that I had what it took to win a national title. This series gave me a chance to prove it.
"The competition was tough this year, and the good part is that this A&H Windows Team won the championship. The bad part is that the competition will only get tougher as more racers discover this series."
<pre> UNOFFICIAL ORDER OF FINISH Thunder in the Mountains 250 American Racing Association Kool Seal Challenge Series Newport Speedway Newport, Tennessee Saturday, October 20, 2001
1 1 30 Scott Kilby Stateville NC 250 2 14 27 Lee Tissot Arden NC 250 3 5 26 Mark Ketron Kingsport TN 250 4 4 5 Westley Huffman Blythewood SC 250 5 13 79 Tim Weaver Stateville NC 250 6 3 99 Stephen Leicht Asheville NC 250 7 10 101 Pete Silva Leicester NC 249 8 12 0 Brian Ramsey White Pine TN 249 9 15 40 Scott Campbell Clyde NC 248 10 17 8 Ed Surrett Asheville NC 244 11 18 13 Johnny Dixon Parrottsville TN 244 12 9 07 Greg Marlowe Troutman NC 240 13 16 1 Robbie Henry Maryville TN 233 14 2 01 Danny O'Quinn Jr Coeburn VA 195 15 6 22 Keith Stiltner Grundy VA 169 16 7 122 Dennis Queen Waynesville NC 130 17 8 95 Keith Bumgarner Conover NC 54 18 11 10 Jimmy Doyle Hendersonville NC 13
Battery Supply of Virginia Pole Award - Scott Kilby 13.218 seconds
Lead Changes: 5 among 4 drivers Kilby - Pole O'Quinn - 1 Kilby - 2-68 Stiltner - 69-168 Marlowe - 169-240 Kilby - 241-250
Cautions: 8 for 47 laps
UNOFFICIAL FINAL 2001 POINTS American Racing Association Kool Seal Challenge Series
1. Scott Kilby Statesville NC 544 2. Keith Bumgarner Conover NC 509 3. Westley Huffman Blythewood SC 433 4. Greg Marlowe Troutman NC 429 5. Keith Stiltner Grundy VA 342 6. Frampton Ferguson Furman SC 299 7. Stephen Leicht Asheville NC 292 8. Tim Weaver Statesville NC 293 9. Danny O'Quinn Coeburn VA 284 10. Andy Loden Troutman NC 217