USAR: Valdosta: Dusty Williams race report

MIXED FEELINGS FOR WILLIAMS AT SOUTH GEORGIA Top Twenty Finish in Second Race of 2007 Cecil, GA (March 31, 2007) - Race number two of the 2007 USAR Pro Cup season ended considerably better for Dusty Williams than the first. Williams - driver of...

Top Twenty Finish in Second Race of 2007

Cecil, GA (March 31, 2007) - Race number two of the 2007 USAR Pro Cup season ended considerably better for Dusty Williams than the first. Williams - driver of the #40 Dixie Excavating/Dustcom Limited Ford Fusion - overcame handling problems and worked with his crew throughout the race to finish 18th at South Georgia Motorsports Park on Saturday night. The finish comes after the Rincon, Georgia native spent a night in the hospital and destroyed his primary car three weeks earlier in the season opener.

Williams and the Dixie Racing crew tested at the gleaming 1/2-mile facility earlier in the week and realized that they were entirely too loose to race that way. After a day of thrashing to adjust the setup on the #40 Ford at Dixie Racing South in Savannah, Georgia, the team returned to SGMP for Saturday's race day with high hopes.

All high hopes for a good handling car were effectively dashed soon after practice began. Despite their best efforts, crew chief Petey Hinson and the gang were unable to get a handle on the Dixie Excavating machine, which was now too tight. The final practice sheet showed Williams and the 40 car just 37th fastest of all the cars taking a time.

Between practice and qualifying, Williams and Hinson put their heads together and came up with a list of changes to be made prior to time trials. Again, the Dixie team got to work and implemented the plan devised by their driver and crew chief. The adjustments they made were right on time, as Williams was able to wheel the Dustcom Limited-sponsored Ford around the track in the 11th fastest time.

"What a relief to have a decent qualifying run after such a rough time in practice and in our test here," explained Williams. "All those big changes after practice paid off. I think it was a good example of this team coming together just a little more."

The 250-lap race began without incident for Williams. In fact, he was in pretty good shape when he came down pit road around lap 50 to top off his fuel cell, setting the Dixie pit strategy into action for the night. When the opportunity arose again near lap 75, Williams made the left turn to the pits, this time for four fresh tires.

Upon returning to the track, something had obviously gone awry with the Dixie Racing ride. The car tightened up in a vicious way, due to a bad tire in the new set. In what would become the evening's longest green flag run, Williams wrestled with his mount and tried to stay out of trouble as much as possible. When the caution flag finally flew, Williams had lost three laps to the rest of the field.

"I've gotten hold of a lot of bad tires in my life, but this might have been the worst," Williams expounded. "With that set on the car, it didn't just handle badly, it was so bad that I could tell it was messed up on the straightaway. It was all I could do to try and stay out of the way and hope for a caution."

When the opportunity arose, Williams pitted again and the team put on two of the tires from his original set. After this move, Williams was able to get back up to a comparative speed despite being laps down to the leaders. In fact, it was this rediscovered speed that caused the final bump in the road for the Dixie team on the night. Running amongst the leaders, Williams got into the back of Mark McFarland's #81 Chevrolet, turning him around and garnering Williams a black flag for rough driving.

For the rest of the night, Williams stayed to the back of the pack and made multiple pit stops. Each stop made the car a little better and by the end of the night the 40 car was handling well. In spite of having two tires with over 200 laps on them, Williams finished the race in the 18th position running strong.

"I really hated that I got into McFarland and messed his night up. That's not my style and I certainly don't want that kind of reputation," Williams commented. "After the incident we just moved to the back of the pack and worked on making our car the best it could be.

"I'm so glad that we finished this race, and finished running well. After starting the season with disaster and bringing a different car out this weekend, I didn't know what to expect. It was not easy, but Petey and the guys finally got things dialed in. With everything we had to deal with this weekend, I'm very pleased with the progress of the team."

After the 18th place finish at South Georgia, Williams is 27th in the current USAR Pro Cup Southern Division drivers point standings. The Southern Division has nearly a month off before their next race, Saturday, April 28 at Concord Motorsports Park in Concord, North Carolina.

-credit: dr

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Series Stock car
Drivers Mark McFarland
Teams Williams