NASCAR GDS: Huffman Three-Peats in Tennessee
23 June 1998BRISTOL, TENN. --Robert Huffman of Claremont, N.C. is about as hot as a race car driver can be and he proved it once again Saturday afternoon by coming from deep in the field to win the Goody's Dash "150" at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn.
Coming from the fourteenth starting spot in an event that was characterized by one grizzled veteran of the press box as "Not to purtty", Huffman methodically picked off one position after another while dodging the succession of incidents that took many of the front runners out of the competition.
"We had some close calls out there today", said Huffman. "But it was a great day for the folks at White House and the White House Apple Juice team. We really didn't qualify that well here, in fact it was pretty bad, but we hung in there and here we are. Swaim had a great car out there today. If he hadn't had his bad luck, I think the rest of us would have all been fighting for second."
Bud Pole winner, Mike Swaim Jr.'s bad luck started while leading on lap 84 when he slowed to avoid a spinning Gary Moore of Horse Shoe, N.C. in turn two. Swaim slowed but the hard charging David Hutto of Rock Hill, S.C. didn't, and Hutto wound up making significant contact with Swaim's rear bumper. Although both cars were able to continue briefly, Hutto soon retired with over heating problems and Swaim later found himself up against the turn four wall in a very used up race car on lap 112.
"Something must have broken when we had that incident with the lapped car earlier," said Swaim. "I don't know exactly what happened but it was a hard hit."
Will Hobgood of Winnsboro, S.C. had a exceptionally good run at Bristol in only his second start of the season. After starting 24th on the grid, the 1994 Series Champion brought his Wynn's sponsored Pontiac home in the second spot and amazingly enough, with all four corners still in place.
"We thought maybe we had enough for Robert", said Hobgood. "But he was getting a better jump on the restarts. We really just got lucky and stayed out of trouble all day. After all the accidents, I feel pretty good about getting second."
Will's son and fourth place starter Jake Hobgood of Winnsboro, S.C. was one of the front running teams that had their share of bad luck at "The World's Fastest Half Mile". After running in the second spot for the better portion of the race, Hobgood looped the Wynn's Pontiac around after contact with Swaim on lap 104. Although Hobgood lost a lap in the incident, he was making his way back through the field when he got together again, this time with the No. 5 of Ricky Bryant of Linwood, N.C. on lap 143. This incident put both competitors out for the remainder of the event.
Another driver feeling the sting of the Bristol concrete was Minneapolis, Minnesota's Christian Elder. Elder took the lead on lap 87 and paced the field for 37 laps before finally giving up the position to Huffman. Five laps later, while running second Elder's Great Clips Pontiac was bouncing off the turn four wall and out of the competition.
Ernie Yarborough of Chapin, S.C. driving one of the three Fords entered in the Goody's Dash "150" recovered from a lap 67 spin in turn two and powered his way back to the lead pack to eventually finish third.
"That was one of the toughest races I've ever been in", said Yarborough. We were really fortunate to bring the Speed Tech Ford home in third."
Doc Brewer of High Point, N.C. chalked up his second, fourth place finish of the year despite having one very close encounter with the front stretch wall. The John Boy & Billy Rock and Roll Racing Pontiac was the last car on the lead lap at the checkers, and the fourth place finish tied his season best.
John Whaley of Goldsboro, N.C. is another driver who is making huge improvements in his Series finishes over the past few races and picked up his first Goody's Dash top five finish here at Bristol and his first Rookie of the Race honors. The ten rookie points boosted Whaley and the Quality Homes/Brigadier Homes Pontiac into the top 10 in the rookie point standings.
Rounding out the top ten in the Goody's Dash "150" were Bryan Gandy in a relief driving roll for Chad Branham in sixth, followed by Jon Redman, Gary Moore, Donnie Apple and Jimmy Gross.
Following the Goody's Dash "150" at Bristol Motor Speedway the top four positions in the Series Point Standings remain unchanged with Huffman stretching his advantage over Ricky Bryant to 124 points. Jon Redman and Doc Brewer remain in third and fourth position 206 and 234 points back respectively. B.J. Mackey jumps from seventh to fifth and David Hutto continues to hold a one point advantage over Jake Hobgood for the sixth and seventh spots. Ned Combs by not competing in the Bristol event dropped out of the top ten and is replaced in the eighth spot by Donnie Apple. Gary Moore and Jimmy Gross round out the top ten.
The next event for the Goody's Dash Series is the annual Fourth of July spectacular at the Summerville Speedway in Summerville S.C.