NASCAR GDS: Huffman Keeps on Truckin' in Coastal Carolina Freightliner 125
3 August 1998KENLY, N.C. -Robert Huffman of Claremont, N.C. chalked up another impressive win for the powerful White House Apple Juice race team in Saturday's Coastal Carolina Freightliner 125 at Southern National Speedway in Kenly, N.C. The win marked Huffman's fifth trip to victory lane this year as the Goody's Dash Series, a member of the NASCAR Touring Division kicked off the second half of its 1998 season.
As the event got underway, Huffman immediately found his groove on the very bottom of the racetrack. Coming from his third starting position and putting immediate pressure on pole sitter Jake Hobgood of Winnsboro, S.C., Huffman quickly dispensed with outside front row starter Ricky Bryant of Linwood, N.C. With Huffman's No. 37 seemingly able to run down on the apron and getting incredible traction off the corners, he closed the short gap between himself and the pole sitter. On lap ten, Huffman pulled along side Hobgood as the pair streaked down the short backstretch. Hobgood was able to hold off the Series point leader through the next set of corners but as they came roaring to the line side by side, Huffman managed to wrestle a half car length advantage away from Hobgood to take over the lead.
When Huffman finally pulled clear of Hobgood, Bryant tried to follow the same line to get around the Wynn's / Precision Engine / Grease Monkey Pontiac. But with Bryant's No. 5 Pontiac struggling to hold on to the very bottom of the race track and Hobgood not wanting to give an inch, the two touched in turn four. The touch seemed insignificant at the time as Hobgood was able to hold on to second and Bryant backed off to give himself an opportunity to gather things back up. The significance of the contact became much more evident on the next lap as Hobgood suddenly slowed in turn two, the victim of a flat left rear tire. Hobgood lost two laps in the pits getting fresh rubber and eventually finished eleventh, three laps down.
But Bryant wasn't through with his challenge for the lead. He closed back up on Huffman and the two raced bumper to bumper for much of the first half of the event. Although he was never able to get around Huffman, he was able to keep the 37 car in his sights just waiting for the opportunity to make a move. Unfortunately for him, that opportunity never presented itself and on lap 77 Bryant's Pontiac stuttered exiting turn two. Four laps later the former Southern National Speedway champion and last year's winner of this event, Scott Weaver of Shelby, N.C. who had moved up from his twelfth starting spot to third to try Huffman. What they found was way too many vitamins in that White House Apple Juice can of Huffman's. The bright yellow No. 37 pulled away to a seven-second lead at one point just before the final caution period. On the restart with just ten laps remaining, Huffman again showed his dominance claim his fifth checkered flag of the '98 season.
Behind Hutto and Weaver, series legend, Dean Combs of North Wilkesboro, N.C., making his first Goody's Dash Series start since 1981 showed the fans he still has what it takes bringing the Dean Combs Racing Ford home in fourth. Combs, a five time Series champion and 60 race winner, had teamed back up with champion crew chief Richard Mash for this one race deal. Mash had been Combs' crew chief through all five championships and for all but one of Dean's wins. Believe me ladies and gentlemen, you could have cut the nostalgia in the garage area with a knife.
B.J. Mackey of Rock Hill, S.C. in his Armor Electric / John Page Racing Pontiac also had an excellent run and rounded out the top five at SNS, coming from his fourteenth starting position on the grid to finish fifth.
Four Rookie of the Year candidates made up the bulk of the next five finishers led by Chris Hall of London, England who picked up his first Rookie of the Race honors for 1998. Three other rookies, Eddie Kelly, Keith Wilson and Rookie Point leader Donnie Apple finished seventh through ninth and sophomore competitor Jimmy Gross rounded out the top ten.
As a result of Saturday's finish, Robert Huffman has opened up a 284-point advantage over Ricky Bryant in the championship point standings. The tight point race behind Huffman and Bryant usually results in shuffled positions after every event and Saturday's race was no exception. David Hutto moved up a position and now trails Bryant by 50 points. Another 50 points back and moving up a position to fourth is Jake Hobgood. Jon Redman took a dive in this week's championship point standings dropping from third to fifth, as a result of his disappointing 19th place finish in this event. Rear end problems sent Redman to the garage area after only 50 laps. He now trails Hobgood by nine points.
In the Goody's Dash Series Rookie of the year standings, the top three remain the same with Donnie Apple leading Chris Hall and Eddie Kelly. Keith Wilson and John Whaley both moved up a spot into fourth and fifth while Mark Ellington dropped out of the top five to sixth.
The next event for the Goody's Dash Series comes up this weekend at Myrtle Beach Speedway, S.C. Approximately 40 cars have pre-registered to compete for the 30 starting spots in the Tidewater Cable 100. Time trials roll off at 5:00 PM and the racing scheduled to get underway at 8:00 PM.