NASCAR GDS: Huffman Wins Country Cupboard 150 Race
15 June 1998BRASELTON, GA. June 13--Robert Huffman of Claremont, N.C. fought off persistent challenges from David Hutto of Rock Hill, S.C. and rookie contender Keith Wilson of Austell, Ga. to capture his second win of the season at Lanier National Speedway's Country Cupboard "150" for the Goody's Dash Series, a part of the NASCAR Touring Division.
Huffman's White House Apple Juice Pontiac paced the 29-car field to the green for the start of the feature and almost immediately pulled away, leaving the rest to fight it out for the remaining positions. Behind Huffman, outside pole sitter, Jake Hobgood of Winnsboro, S.C. and sixth place starter, Hutto battled for the second spot. Hutto eventually took the position and set out after Huffman who had already established a half a straightaway lead.
A caution period on lap 64 for a four-car bump and spin in turn four tightened the field. However, on the ensuing restart, the close quarters racing again resulted in the turn four area being strewn with wrinkled racecars. This time, several of the top ten, including Eddie Kelley, Jake Hobgood and Mark Ellington were collected in the incident. Hobgood received the most damage in the incident and his entry had to be retired for the remainder of the evening.
Many drivers used this mid-race caution period to pit for tires and gas. Hutto, B.J. Mackey and Mark Ellington were among the lead lap cars that opted to stop in hopes of being able to close the gap between themselves and the speedy Huffman.
When green flag racing continued on lap 76, Huffman started feeling immediate pressure from rookie contender Keith Wilson in the No. 47 Ingle's Markets/Hearts With Hands Pontiac. Several times the Austell, Ga. native was able to work a nose under Huffman, forcing the veteran racer to the higher line through the turns. Eventually Wilson was able to get along side Huffman but the V-6 power of the No. 37 car was able to fend off the attack and gradually pulled clear of Wilson.
"The crew kept reminding me that we wanted to pit with Huffman" said Wilson after the race. "I was concerned that if we got in front of him he could duck into the pits and I would get left out there on old tires and no gas. So I backed off a little and just followed him. When Huffman finally did pit, I had already thought about all the things that could go wrong in the pits and decided to stay out anyway. With so few laps left, I felt like we should take the chance and stay out rather than throw away a good finish by me stalling the car or it falling off the jack or something. I was most concerned about gas. I didn't know if we were going to make it on fuel. I'll be interested to know how much we have left in there."
Hutto, on the other hand, had fresh right side tires and plenty of gas and he was meticulously working his way back through the field. Within a few laps, he passed Wilson for second and six laps later, took the lead from Huffman.
On the same lap that Hutto took the lead from Huffman, the yellow came out for a turn four spin involving Brian Gandy and Davis Myers. The slow down allowed Huffman to get into the pits for the right side tires that he so badly needed.
"Our tires were gone, slam gone," said Huffman. "I was beginning to think it wasn't going to happen tonight. We needed that last caution bad."
With only five cars on the lead lap, Huffman was within sight of the leader, Hutto, on the restart and the fresh Goodyears were putting the horsepower to the ground. Huffman quickly disposed of Jimmy Gross, Ricky Bryant and Wilson in the first three laps following the restart and within three more laps, moved ahead of Hutto to regain the lead.
From there, it was smooth sailing for Huffman as he went on to pick up his second win in as many outings. Following Huffman across the line was Hutto, Wilson and Bryant on the lead lap. Jimmy Gross rounded out the top five one lap off the pace.
The next event for the Goody's Dash Series is the Goody's Dash "150" at the Bristol Motor Speedway June 20. This race will be televised live on ESPN2 starting at 4:30 p.m.