Charlie Bradberry Sees the Money by Winning $10,000 22-Year-Old Comes Back From Run through Infield Mud to Win SAS at Birmingham Chelsea, Alabama (April 5, 2005) -- When track promoters at Birmingham International Raceway thought...
Charlie Bradberry Sees the Money by Winning $10,000
22-Year-Old Comes Back From Run through Infield Mud to Win SAS at Birmingham
Chelsea, Alabama (April 5, 2005) -- When track promoters at Birmingham International Raceway thought up the idea of a $10,000-to-win Super Late Model show, local hotshot Charlie Bradberry was one of the names that came to mind as to who would be tough to beat.
But after a few dozen laps in the race, it looked like one of the other favorites might be winning the Southern All Star Series opener. Early on, when Bradberry got pinched up the track and ended up sliding through the muddy infield in turn four. It looked like it just might not be Charlie's day.
Anyone who might have thought that forgot to take into account two things. First, even though Bradberry is only 22 years old, he is a seasoned veteran in this type of racecar and is great at making up lost ground. Secondly, there was a lot that could happen in a 200-lap race.
Plus, the early-race incident looked worse from the grandstands than it actually was.
"I don't have a clue what happened there," said Bradberry. "I was just riding and I looked over and 'Bam!' I got run into. I guess he [J.R. Dudley] slid up the track a little bit. He hit me in the door and turned me sideways. I gathered it back up and by that time, I was already down in the grass. I ran through the mud and stuff and lost a few positions."
While tire problems, crashes and broken parts kept challengers like John "Boy" Wilkinson, Augie Grill and Eddie Mercer from staying out front, Bradberry was quietly getting the best mileage from his tires and setting himself up for late-race charge. On lap 158, he finally decided to take a run at the lead and he never looked back from there.
"I just rode around the whole race because I knew that if I could outlast everybody on the first set of tires and come in with about 50 laps to go, nobody would be able to touch me," said Bradberry. "That was the whole plan. I knew how good my car was and I could have gone up there anytime that I wanted to, but I was just waiting."
That waiting included enduring several late-race restarts as many competitors got into trouble during the closing laps.
"Good smooth starts were what I needed to win it and that's what I did," said Bradberry.
"After we pitted, I just gave it all that I had the last 50 laps. "Tire management was the whole deal today and my tires were still good at the end of the race."
The victory was Bradberry's first of the 2005 season, but with a slate of Super Late Model big races planned to go along with a full season of competition in the NASCAR Southeast Series, it probably won't be his last.
"It was great," said Bradberry. "This was a heck of a race. We worked our butts off to win. It was our first win with our new crew chief, Ray Jones, and I feel like we are going to win a ton of races this year."
Bradberry competed part-time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and selected major short track races during the 2004 season. This season, he plans on competing in major Super Late Model events and in the NASCAR Southeast Series.