An enthusiastic crowd was on hand at the famous Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, NC for the final two events of the 2009 International Sport Compact Auto Racing Series (ISCARS) DASH Touring Series, sanctioned by the American Speed Association (ASA) season. Danny Bagwell would capture two more wins but it was 20-year-old Jason Shultz winning the 2009 championship.
Shultz would finish third in the first 75-lap event and second in the second to win the championship over Randy Humphrey. "Man I tell you what, I was nervous as I have ever been," an excited Shultz said after the race as he led a majority of the second 75-lap feature and had a big lead over Bagwell when a red flag came out on lap 57. "That red flag was killing me. I think I prayed 20-30 times the same thing over and over. I had to play it safe because I really wanted to win that race but Bagwell had a much better car than me, but its awesome, I am speechless right now."
That incident on lap 57 was pretty much the story of the day and it pretty much summed up the last part of the season for Humphrey who came into the Hickory finale with a two-point lead over Shultz and an eight point lead over Eric Gerchak. While Shultz was leading, Bagwell and Humphrey were battling for second when Bagwell appeared to get loose off of turn four. Humphrey went to the inside of Bagwell and the two touched going down the frontstretch. Humphrey would then spin going into turn one collecting Brad Queen and then Gerchak had nowhere to go and made heavy contact with both. Humphrey was able to continue and come back through to finish third but come up short to winning the championship.
"We had a really good car and I was trying to be patient," Humphrey said at the end of the night. "Danny got loose and I got beside him. For whatever reason, we made contact and that pretty much ruined our deal. When we were out there, we were running times faster than both of those cars.
Bagwell would past Shultz in both races en route to the two wins. But was somber about the incident in the second race, "Randy has a good car and I think he had the best chance to win," Bagwell said afterwards. "I got real loose off of turn four and kind of bang the front wall. I don't know if he tried to check up and not hit me or whatever and if he did that I sure appreciate that. I didn't really see what happened I think he spun himself around and hit the wall and that probably affected the way his car finished. I feel like he would have been up there with us."
Bagwell held off Humphrey to win the First 75. Bagwell started on the pole but it was Shultz taking the lead at the drop of the green flag. Shultz would hold on to the lead for the first six laps, gaining those valuable five bonus points, until Bagwell went by on the inside to take over the top spot.
Humphrey, who started shotgun on the field worked his way up to fourth by lap six. He would then get by Caleb Roark for third on lap 30. On lap 38, he got by Shultz for second and began his chase towards Bagwell.
With ten laps to go, Humphrey would get on the inside of Bagwell to challenge for the lead but Bagwell would hold on to the top spot. Humphrey would stay on Bagwell's bumper all the way to the checkered flag.
It would be Bagwell's seventh win of the year with Humphrey in second and Shultz in third.
"He's got a pretty good car, I'm going to have to watch out for him in the next race," Bagwell said in victory lane. "He may have saved his tires a little big longer than we did. We will see how it plays out and see who has the best tires at the end of the last race."
Humphrey was looking at the big picture at the end of the race, "We still have the points lead and we just need to go out there this next race and do the best we can," Humphrey said after the race. "They (Bagwell) has a pretty good car and we need to be careful in this next race. I am out there points racing a little bit. I got up there besides him and I didn't see a reason to knock the nose off of it."
Shultz was happy to pick up those bonus points early on in the first feature after starting on the outside of the front row, "I was happy about that. I kind of snookered him on the start and he (Bagwell) drove me clean so I have to thank him for that," Shultz said. "They are in a different zip code right now. We are trying our hardest."
In the second event, Shultz would start sixth with Gerchak alongside of him and Humphrey behind him. Shultz would work his way up to second by lap 12 and a lap later he would get by Caleb Roark for the lead.
After the incident on lap 57, Shultz would continue to lead but Bagwell was right on his rear bumper. Shultz, who was thinking about the championship, didn't push the issue with Bagwell as he gave up the lead to Bagwell on lap 67. Bagwell would go on to collect his eighth win of the season. "I was as nervous as I could get, every lap I was the wheels off of this thing," Shultz said.
"You know I didn't even get started until I was past 20-years-old, so its good to see somebody like that and I want to congratulate him on the championship," Bagwell said about Shultz after the race. "I know Randy fought pretty hard and I know he wanted to win it as bad as he did."
Humphrey had a day that many would like to forget. He started the day by replacing a broken lifter in his engine, missed qualifying and had to start last in the first feature and came through to finish second, but even though he had some misfortune in the second race, he still finished third. After all of that, Humphrey still was thankful, "The Lord really blessed us with Jan Smith helping us with that lifter and that threw us a curveball because we didn't get any practice. We figured the motor was broke, in fact we told everybody that we were done. We went through a ring of emotions really frustrated we didn't have a chance to do anything and Jan said put the lifter in there and obviously ran good in the first race and in the second race we had a good car," Humphrey said. "But we are thankful to be here and thankful to be doing the racing."
For more information on the ISCARS DASH Touring Series sanctioned by the American Speed Association, please visit: www.iscarslonline.com.
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