Fultz Gets a Win Worth Waiting for at Birmingham by Jason Buckley
McFarland is Fast, but Wrecks Late in Early Bird 100
At Birmingham, it was checkers for Jeff Fultz... (51 Photos)
Jeff Fultz headed to the Early Bird 100 event on borrowed gas money, high hopes and a dream to win at the famed Birmingham International Raceway, like his fallen friend Charlie Bradberry.
After 100 laps, the dream became reality as he took the checkered flag first.
"My buddy Charlie," said Fultz. "I've seen him win here last. We really miss him. He was one of my best friends and he is really missed. We dedicate this race to him."
The road to Birmingham for Fultz started with help from friends in the racing world.
"We got a lot of help down here," said Fultz. "This is my car, but a bunch of guys helped me do this. A lot of guys gave me this or that ... gave me gas money to get down here and I had a lot of help. Randy Wilson lent me the Volunteer Performance engine.
Hell, we do not own a lot of stuff so it is just a couple of those guys that have fun in the shop. Both of the teams I drive for helped me out. Some gave us springs and other stuff. The JCR3 (Fultz’s Pro Cup team) guys gave me stuff and Curtis Venable gave me some stuff to come down here and have some fun."
Fultz started on the pole position, but quickly yielded to the experience of Ken McFarland.
"I let Ken go because he is real good here," said Fultz. "I needed someone to gauge off of and I gauged off him for a while. I was a little better in three and four but he was better in one and two."
...while it was wreckers for Ken McFarland.
Around the halfway mark, Fultz watched from the driver's seat as McFarland had trouble in the third turn, ending his day.
"I ran over something getting into turn one," said McFarland. "It sounded strange. I didn't know what it was, it sounded like it just hit the bottom of the car, so I sorta got it out of my mind. I got off the corner and started down the backstretch there and everything was fine. As soon as I let off the gas it was around on me, just like that. I had nothing I could do but hold on."
McFarland's wreck was bittersweet for Fultz.
"I hated that he popped a tire getting into three and wrecked," said Fultz. "It made it a little easier on us. I didn't know how hard to run on these tires, but we got fortunate."
Fultz was challenged late in the race by Stephen Davis, but was able to hold on for a deserving win.
"You know, I needed to win a race," said Fultz. "I built that car and it didn't run any races. We wrecked it one time in Lakeland. We rebuilt it. Brandon Bishop worked his butt off on it. We sit around and drink beer every once in a while and that is our toy. We wanted to come here because I love Birmingham and he is from here.
"This is kind of fun racing and what I like to do. We are getting psyched up for next week at Opp and then the Hooters race the next week."
While looking forward, Fultz is honoring the memory of his good friend Bradberry by returning to Birmingham to race in the future.
"We will keep coming down here in his memory."