WILLIAMS IS SOUTHEAST SERIES CINDERELLA STORY By Matthew Dillner
Dusty Keeps the Faith and Dusts em' at South Boston
Budweiser Salutes Armed Forces 150.
South Boston Speedway - South Boston, VA
1. Dusty Williams
2. Jeff Fultz
3. J R Norris
4. Jason Hogan
5. Justin Diercks
6. Charlie Bradberry
7. Greg Pope
8. Robert Richardson
9. Pat Brewer
10. Michael Foy
11. Don Young
12. Justin Wakefield
13. Terry McMahan
14. Eddie Stivers
15. Walter Sutcliffe
16 Kevin Prince
17. Allen Karnes
18. Chris Davidson
19. Gary Helton
20. Michael Britt
Sometimes life and racing can be similar to a fairy tale. Then again, sometimes fairy tales never come true. It took a while for Cinderella to find her glass slipper in her tale. In the tale of Dusty Williams’ NASCAR Southeast Series career, it took even longer. After three long years of anguish and disappointment, it was finally Williams’s time to dance at the big ball.
“This means the most of anything I've ever done in racing,” said an emotional Williams after his first win, which came during Saturday night’s 150-lap event at South Boston Speedway in Virginia.
You couldn't have written a better story. The underdog team and underdog driver wins his first pole and his first career Southeast Series race. He passed NASCAR Midwest Series champ and the winner of the previous Southeast race Justin Diercks to take the lead a third of the way through the event. Then he held off last year’s SES champ Jeff Fultz with a green-white checker finish to accomplish the feat.
“There are two people I wouldn't want on a green white checker behind me and that is Hogan (Jason) and Fultz because they can both be real aggressive,” said Williams. “They never touched me. All I had to do was keep it fast and on the track and they couldn't keep up.
“In qualifying I wasn't really expecting to click off the lap we did.
Today was our first pole and first win. I just can't believe it. I just can't believe how happy everyone is for me too. This really means a lot.”
What was even more ironic about this well written plot is that William's #40 car found glory in his 40th career start in the Series. Williams was obviously pumped when he took the American Flag for a burnout victory lap for the big Memorial Day weekend win. The celebration then exploded in victory lane.
“Man that was great. The American Flag and the holiday weekend mean a lot. The 40th thing I didn't even know until I got to victory lane. As for the celebration, we fired it up. I saw John Craig (crewmember) coming across the track with that cooler and I knew where it was going. I said 'bring it on baby'.
After three years of struggling in the series, the 2005 chapter of this story has put a big smile on Dusty's face. The Dixie Racing #40 Team has already had some strong showings and seems to be heading in the right direction.
“In Houston, when I took the lead, I held it for about 60-laps. I got real emotional and overwhelmed to be in the lead. Tonight, to hold on to the lead for a commanding part of the race, I can't believe it really.
It was an emotional celebration for Williams after his first win. (51 Photos)
And Williams points out that it was a chance encounter that may be the reason his family owned team has turned the page.
“God blessed me. I was walking through the Charlotte airport on my way to Indiana to look at buying a dirt car. I passed Tracy Norman, and recognized the jacket he had on of a guy we had raced in California. At the time Tracy was Craig Robbins crew chief. I thought he was Craig, I didn't know. So I said, 'Hey Craig, I raced against you in California.’ He said that he was Craig's crew chief. I said, 'What are you doing in Charlotte?' He told me he was here looking for a job and I was like, ‘Man I'm looking for a crew chief.’ We exchanged numbers and the next week we were looking for shops and he was my crew chief.”
New crew cheif Tracy Norman had Dusty's #40 on rails all day at SoBo. (51Photos)
“Tonight I didn't just luck up and take the lead. I didn't take someone out. I didn't inherit it or take it through attrition; we took the lead and we won the race. I wouldn't want the win any other way.”
Dusty lit the tires up carrying "Old Faithful" around during his victory lap (51Photos)
With the new crew chief in place, the balance of work and play has been made easier for Dusty.
“I don't have to work on the cars as much anymore. Monday through Thursday I just lay pipe and dig ditches with the family business. Then, on the weekends, I get to come enjoy a fruitful race team that is really going places this year.”
But it was only a few years ago that Dusty didn't think he was going anywhere at all.
The clock was about to strike midnight on Dusty's fable. He had virtually hit rock bottom in his racing career. After three years of blood sweat and tears, Dusty had given up on his dream of succeeding in the sport. But faith and family saw him through his hardships and created the scenario for his Cinderella win at South Boston.
“I believe in God. I've been truly blessed. You have to know you are doing the right thing in life. Towards the end of last year I didn't think I was in the right thing. I was set to go home and work in the family business, playing in the dirt and digging ditches for the rest of my life. I came to that conclusion and was at peace with it I thought.
Dusty and his team have had their share of hardships. Dusty (black shirt) changes engines on his #40 at South Boston in 2003. (51Photos)
“As of January we weren't racing. The cars never even got unloaded from California. Then it just snowballed and things just got going so quick. It's kind of scary knowing I was that close to quitting.
“I knew in the back of my mind that it was going to get worse before it got better. We started off a couple of years ago at this very track. We would have moments of glory. A blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then. For the most part we wasted mucho dinero for three years. We did a lot of things wrong for three years, but now it's all worth it and I wouldn't want to do it any other way.”
And it was the support of family and friends that made Dusty rise from the ashes. Hugging his parents in victory lane and sharing the win with all of those whom supported him made the wait for the win worth while.
“The biggest thing is how my parents supported me,” said an emotional Williams of his family-run team. “Only a parent could really support me through things the way they have been. They are loving parents that never gave up and always believed that I could do it.
“I've got probably 15-people from Savannah, Georgia that are up here tonight. I bet they have driven to more than a dozen races to see me catch on fire, blow up, wreck, hood fly off, you name it. Finally they got to see me pull one off.”
Dusty shares the moment with his mother and father in South Boston Speedway victory lane.. (51Photos)
It may have taken Williams 40 races and a lot of hard times before the glass slipper fit, but if you ask Dusty, he wouldn't trade the journey for anything. The win proved to Williams that fairy tales can come true and it happened to him.