NASCAR GDS: Hutto Shows No Symptoms of Full Moon Fever
8 September 1998Hampton, Va. -While there were a few cases of Full Moon Fever reported in some of the Goody's Dash Series competitors in Saturday night's TAMCO/PPG 100 at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., David Hutto of Rock Hill, S.C. survived what could have become an epidemic and picked up his fourth win in the NASCAR Touring series' 1998 season.
In fact, both Hutto and the No. 16 Irmo Grading/ Addy Dodge/ Midland Photo Chevrolet seemed perfectly healthy all day, turning the fastest times in practice, capturing his second Bud Pole Award this year, and leading 49 of the 100 laps.
"It was just a great night for us." said Hutto. The weather was cool, the track was in great shape and the car was just perfect. It never changed a bit all night. It was just as good at the end as it was when we started. Robert's (Huffman) car was awesome getting off the corners but we were eating him up getting in. We just wanted to save what we had for the end. When it got down to ten to go, I told myself "It's time to go". That's when we really started to race."
Huffman used his advantage coming off the corners to slip under Hutto exiting turn two on a lap 44 restart to grab the lead. But unlike some other races when Huffman was able to open a gap between himself and the rest of the field, the top three of Huffman, Hutto and Jake Hobgood who had started outside on the front row and spent a majority of the first half of the event running second to Hutto lined up nose to tail to battle for the lead.
While everything was going great for the leaders, many of the teams were starting to feel the lunar affects. Ricky Bryant, Doc Brewer and Rookie point leader Donnie Apple and Toyota driver Charlie Smith all suffered early problems, some mechanical, some the results of incidents. Jimmy Gross found his off track experience a bit wet as he plowed through the Hurricane Earl soaked infield grass. Billy Smith Jr. making his Dash Series debut went for a wild ride, the victim of a stuck throttle at the end of the front straightaway. Wheel bearings, clutches, water pumps and wrong place, wrong time incidents kept the field well shuffled and the battles constantly evolving.
As the race progressed, even the leaders found their immunity weakening. Hobgood lost the handle on his Wynns Pontiac and began to fade dropping several seconds behind the leaders at one point. Randy Humphrey watched a probable top five finish go up in smoke when the engine dramatically let go in his No. 93 with just 14 laps remaining. Even Series Point leader Robert Huffman of Claremont, N.C. felt the affects of the lunar glow, looping the No. 37 White House Apple Juice Pontiac in turn one on lap 95 while leading and battling for position with Hutto.
"David got into me a little coming out of four." recounted Huffman. "That upset the car some and got me out of my line. I just never got it all gathered back up. By the time we started into one, I was out of shape for the entry, got in too hot, slid up into the speedy dry, and around she went. It was still a good run for us. The spin didn't damage the car and I was able to get it turned around before we lost too many spots. Any time we can get a top five we're happy. We're still looking at the big picture."
Ned Combs of Newton, N.C. appeared to be in line to pick up second in this event but the Handy Pantry/HRA/Duragloss Pontiac suddenly jumped up out of the groove coming through turn four on lap 99 and headed for the outside retaining wall. While Combs backpedaled to gather it back up, several drivers slipped by dropping Combs to tenth.
Behind Hutto, Tim Nichols of Hurley, Va. came from the back of the pack midway through the race to eventually finish second. "Yeah, we got put back after a little bumping incident with the 71 car." said Nichols. But Dean (Combs) was coaching me coming back through the field. We found a real good high line that the car liked and we were able to get a bunch of positions back on the outside. That caution on lap 86 helped a lot because I was able to close up on the 9 and 64 car. I felt like I could get around them if I could catch them but I was running out of time. The caution took care of that for me."
Jake Hobgood of Winnsboro, S.C. managed to hold on for third and B.J. Mackey of Rock Hill, S.C., who also had to restart from the rear after the incident with Nichols was able to work his way back to fourth. Robert Huffman recovered from his spin to finish fifth.
Scott Weaver of Shelby, N.C. finished just outside the top five in sixth and Eddie Kelley of Indianapolis, In. was the highest finishing rookie candidate in seventh. Chris Hall, Ricky Bryant and Ned Combs rounded out the top ten.
As a result of Saturday's race, Hutto picked up 25 points on Huffman in the championship point battle and Chris Hall and Eddie Kelley continue to close the gap between themselves and Donnie Apple in the Rookie of the Year race. Apple now holds a five point advantage over Hall and an 18 point spread over Kelley in third.
The next event for the Goody's Dash Series will roll off at St. Augustine Speedway in St. Augustine, Fla. on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 8:30 PM.