CHELSEA, AL (March 9, 2004) -- Charlie Bradberry, like most aspiring racers during the off-season, was getting pretty tired of just sitting around; he wanted to get back behind the wheel. 24 hours into his 2004 season though, with the adversity he...
CHELSEA, AL (March 9, 2004) -- Charlie Bradberry, like most aspiring racers during the off-season, was getting pretty tired of just sitting around; he wanted to get back behind the wheel. 24 hours into his 2004 season though, with the adversity he had faced, most racers would have gone into hibernation again, but not Charlie. He fought through it and managed to earn two top-10 finishes during back-to-back race weekends.
First on tap was the Southern All Stars season-opener, the "Earlybird 100," at Birmingham Motor Speedway (AL). The 21-year-old "Young Gun" picked up where he left off in 2003, by being the fastest on the track during the first day of practice. With his confidence beaming, Charlie took to the track on day-two only to be surprised in a mere blink of an eye.
However, after being the fastest car in an open practice the day before at the track, Charlie's race weekend took a turn for the worse. Bradberry was the first car out for practice race morning and was just coming up to speed when the car spun around and back hard into the outside wall, destroying the rear end of the machine.
"The first lap on the track, the car just turned around on me lightning quick," said Bradberry, whose number-78 Super Late Model backed hard into the outside wall. "I didn't know what happened; we had just gotten up to speed. Come to find out later, there might have been a little oil on the track and they (the officials) were just about to throw the caution flag. It was a shame, because the car was real fast; probably one of the best cars I've ever had there."
The day looked to be a complete disaster, but Bradberry found solace in a fellow racer.
"After I saw it wasn't fixable for the race, Stanley (Smith) let me drive his back-up car. It was actually pretty good. We qualified 27th and ended up finding the engine had a broken valve spring. We caught it right after qualifying. So we fixed it and it was ready to go. We ended up racing how it was unloaded out of Stanley's trailer. We didn't really make any changes at all," added Charlie, who finished an impressive seventh.
A week later, after much work to repair his main machine, Charlie was at it again; this time trying to become a two-time winner of the "Rattler 150" at South Alabama Speedway. After an intense battle, Bradberry finished third.
"It was a good run, but the car just wasn't as good as it had been there before," explained Bradberry, who won the race in 2002. "The car was a top-five car for sure, but it just didn't have enough in it to battle for the lead. I came in during the pit stops and made some adjustments, but it just didn't have the effect on it that I wanted. It wasn't bad, especially after the weekend we had before."
Charlie and the team are now back at work preparing for their season debut in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, which will come May 16th at Mansfield Motorsports Park in Ohio. The team will also run at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord (NC) the following week.