GREENVILLE, SC (May 26, 2001)- In a race that he hadn't planned to compete in, Marietta's Marty Ward found himself in Greenville Pickens Speedway victory lane at the end of the night. The 1990 and 1991 track champion and his wife Gina had...
GREENVILLE, SC (May 26, 2001)- In a race that he hadn't planned to compete in, Marietta's Marty Ward found himself in Greenville Pickens Speedway victory lane at the end of the night. The 1990 and 1991 track champion and his wife Gina had welcomed new son Jacob Austin Ward into the world earlier in the week, and the proud father had accompanied his wife and first child home from the Palmetto Baptist Hospital in Easley earlier in the afternoon.
"I wasn't even going to race, and it was Gina's decision for me to come on out here. It's really the first race my wife hasn't been with me since we've been together," Ward said after the race. Gina underwent a C-section for Jacob's birth, and the long week hit Ward as he stopped briefly to compose himself as he spoke over the public address system in victory lane.
Ward started on the outside of the first row, and passed Asheville's Pete Silva on lap 19. Silva threatened in the closing circuits but it was Ward's fast jumps on several restarts that held the hard charging Silva's Chevrolet at bay. "I feel lucky just to finish the race," Silva said in the technical inspection area after the race. "I didn't believe this thing would even roll after the accident."
Silva was referring to a huge backstretch melee which happened just before the main event as the Late Models were warming up. Leicester's James Young spun out on the backstretch as several top contenders, including current points leader and six time winner Donnie Bishop, barreled full throttle down the backstretch directly into the path of Young. Bishop's and Young's racers got the worst of the damage and did not return, and Silva's Chevrolet lost the hood and the front fender and suffered a bent front suspension and damage to the balljoints and tire rods but the frame was not seriously damaged. Silva's crew was able to make last minute adjustments and he was able to take the green flag.
Points leader Bishop, who had qualified second, borrowed the No. 22 car of Brandon McCarson and started in the back of the field, but could muster no better than a 12th place finish after a flat left front tire on lap 29. Bishop's previously worst season showing was second.
Robert Powell of Goose Creek, SC made his first season appearance at the speedway and placed third behind Silva. Gene Morgan of Travelers Rest was fourth, and Columbia's R.A. Brown was fifth. Dennis Southerlin of Taylors, David Roberts of Simpsonville, Jay White of Central, Stephen Gahagan of Hot Springs, NC, and Jamie Barbery of Travelers Rest rounded out the sixth through tenth place positions.
Robby Robbins of Greenville expanded his Super Stock points lead by overtaking early race leader C.M. Knight of Simpsonville. Knight turned in his best season showing by taking second. Robin Darnell of Greenville placed third, with Easley's Michael Cain taking fourth. Greenville's Greg Dodgens was fifth.
Newlywed Daryl Culbertson, who got married earlier in the day, won the B.F. Goodrich 15 lap Street Stock race, holding off Dacusville's Red Ables and Liberty's Chris Meinders. Vince Quinn of Greenville was fourth, and Tim Sams of Greenville rounded out the top five.
In the Charger races, Greenville's Joel Cox survived a caution filled Charger I event to score his first victory of the 2001 season. Easley's Bryan Davis was second, and Kennith Powell of Easley was third. In the second Charger event, Jimmy Mann Jr. held off a charging Ted Somero of Greer to score his first win of the season. Somero, the Charger points leader, settled for second with Greenville's Ryan Dombrosky placing third.