NASCAR GDS: Hobgood Real Good at Greenville-Pickens
14 July 1998GREENVILLE, S.C. -Jake Hobgood of Winnsboro, S.C. is one of the talented Goody's Dash Series drivers that have been teetering on the edge of success all year long. In Saturday night's Expressions Unlimited, Inc. "100" at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, Hobgood pushed his No. 64 over the edge, parlaying his first career Bud Pole into his first ever Goody's Dash Series career win after only 40 Series starts.
Hobgood found himself in a war for this win early on in the event, battling four-time winner Robert Huffman of Claremont, N.C. from the time the green flag fell. In a classic side-by-side confrontation, Huffman inched ahead of Hobgood on lap one. Lap two went to Hobgood by the same bumper width. On lap three Hobgood's Wynn's/ Precision Engine/ Grease Monkey/ Cogdill Carpets Pontiac wiggled half way between turns one and two and the second generation driver had roll out of the throttle momentarily to gather it back up. That was the only break Huffman needed to take the position and the chase was on. David Hutto of Rock Hill, S.C. quickly joined the fray in his Irmo Grading/ Addy Dodge Chevrolet, dropping in behind Hobgood and the three lined up nose to tail to draw away from the field.
Huffman's No.37 White House Apple Juice Pontiac paced the field until lap 17 when Hobgood, again, dove underneath the former champion in turn three to retake the lead. From there, Hobgood, Huffman and Hutto waged an intense three-way battle that ultimately ended in the same order.
"We have really struggled so far this year, it's been a rough year," said Hobgood. "These guys have kept digging and digging and it 's finally paid off. We all knew we were close it was just a matter of time and tonight was the night. It feels great, especially getting the pole and the win in the same night. We've been fast at other tracks but tonight it just came together for us."
Another Hobgood had the run of his young career in this event, 19-year-old Justin Hobgood, the youngest of the Hobgood clan picked up a fifth place finish in only his third career start and his second start this season. Prior to this event, his best finish had been a 19th the preceding week at Summerville.
The proud father, 1994 Goody's Dash Series Champion, Will Hobgood stood in victory lane flanked by his two sons beaming with pride.
"This is a dream come true," said Will. "Now if we can just get them one-two, we'd be just right. Jake told me before we left the shop, "I'm gonna win the pole and lead every lap," Well I don't think we led every lap but we'll take what we got."
Almost unnoticed in all the Hobgood excitement was another superb performance by a driver making his first career Dash Series start. Tim Nichols of Hurley, Va. was making his first appearance in a Dean Combs prepared ride. Nichols showed his strength early in the day by qualifying his No. 11 Ford Escort in the sixth starting position and managed to improve to a fourth place finish in the evening's main event. Nichols comes to the Series from the Late Model Stock Division at Lonesome Pine Int'l. Speedway where he was the 1995 Track Champion.
Rounding out the top ten in Saturday's race were Ernie Yarborough of Chapin, S.C. in a Ford. B.J. Mackey of Rock Hill, S.C. came from his 22nd starting spot to finish seventh. Ricky Bryant drove his Pontiac entry rented from the Doc Brewer team to an eighth place finish. Sprint car ace, Eddie Kelley of Indianapolis, In. was the highest finishing Rookie of the Year candidate claiming the ninth spot and Rookie of the Race Award. Another rookie candidate, John Whaley of Goldsboro, N.C. brought his Pontiac from the 26th starting position to finish tenth.
As A result of the Expressions Unlimited, Inc. "100", the only change in the top 10 of the Goody's Dash Series Point Standings was a swap of positions between Doc Brewer, who dropped from fourth to sixth and Jake Hobgood, who jumped from sixth to fourth. Robert Huffman continues to lead the standings followed by Ricky Bryant and Jon Redman.
The next event for the Goody's Dash Series is the ATK Engines "125" at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C. just north of Durham. This event will mark the halfway point of the season and will be highlighted by the presentation of the $15,000 Goody's Mid-season Consistency Awards.