FULTZ TIES RECORD WITH MYRTLE BEACH WIN by Jeremy Troiano
Former Champion Now One Win Away From Being All Time Leader
The last few years, Jeff Fultz has dominated the NASCAR Southeast Series. Now, the record books will show the same.
Fultz tied Wayne Anderson’s all-time Southeast Series win record with a typical Jeff Fultz-like performance on Saturday night at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC) in the make-up for a race that was washed out earlier this year.
Fultz saved his tires, and used a little misfortune by race dominator Erik Darnell, to grab the lead late and capture his fourth win of the season and extend his championship points lead.
“This is great,” said Fultz of tying the record of 21 career SES victories. “I wish Wayne would have been here though so I could have beat him on the track as well. We really like having him here and I love having any of those past guys back in the series. If we can get one more and be the all time series leader it would be pretty big to tell your kids someday. Our goal is to win the championship though.”
And Fultz worked on that as well at “the Beach.”
“It’s a big picture deal. Last year, we won six out of 10 and had a DNF at Kentucky that really hurt us. If we win a couple more we will have the same style of season as last year except we've only had one DNF, but when we've had bad races this year, like we did at Caraway (NC), we can finish fifth. That is the way this team is suppose to be. We should be a top two or three car every week.”
After the field was set by points, thanks to qualifying be rained out back in July, Fultz jumped to the early lead but was quickly trailed by Darnell. Darnell then used a not-so-typical-at-Myrtle Beach outside pass to get by Fultz on lap18 and took off from the field.
Darnell, who sits third in the points, pulled away and put most of the 17 cars in attendance a lap down. By the time the first caution flew at lap 69, Darnell had put all but the top-five cars at least one down.
After the caution, Darnell pulled away yet again, but Fultz stayed much closer. Then, “Fultzy” started tracking Darnell back down. With just eight to go, after a spirited battle with Darnell, Fultz got by the Midwesterner and pulled away for the victory.
“We weren’t' the best at the beginning, but showed some patience out there and it showed,” added Fultz. “His car backed up a little and ours stayed the same. The car was too tight early. It was sliding the nose to long. I just had to ride and save the rear tires. At the beginning, he was the dominate car. So we just rode there and rode there.
“Once we got a caution, I wanted to drive him hard and see
Jeff Fultz did this for the 21st time in his career on Saturday night.. (51 Photos)
what he had and he stated spinning his tires. I just started riding and hitting my marks and not spinning the tires. He just backed up to me a little bit. He if would have stayed the same as he did at the beginning, it would have been tough, but I think he might have run his car a little too hard at the beginning.”
In fact, Darnell said he things something in the rear end gave way.
“The car was great early,” said Darnell, who has a lead up to five seconds at one point. “I got out front and I wasn't even pushing it. I was just cruising. The car was just smooth. I was getting away from everyone. It felt good.
“Then, with about 45 or 50 to go, I got a real bad vibration in the car. I think something in the rear end broke. We didn't have a tire going down or chunking up. We wrecked Tuesday at Kaukauna (WI, in the Midwest Series race at Wisconsin International Raceway) and (the rear end) is the only thing we didn't get to check because we were so busy putting the car back together. I think it might have cost us tonight.”
Darnell drove the same car he destroyed at Kaukauna (WI) on Tuesday.
Fultz and Darnell put one quite a show twice during the race; the first time when Darnell passed Fultz and again when Fultz got back by for the win. Both ran side-by-side on the brittle Myrtle Beach track for several laps.
“He didn't run into me when he passed me,” said Fultz of Darnell early. “That is the kind of respect he gets. If he ran into me, then I would have ran into him. He does a great job and his whole crew and family are nice people. I wanted to race him clean. All it was was one little slip by him. It would have been the same the other way around.”
Darnell’s car fell off so much though that he even lost second place to rookie JR Norris on the last corner.
Jeff Fultz won from three laps down at Myrtle Beach last year... this year, he had a little easier time of if.
In the points battle, the race made out just like the chase for the championship. Fultz extended his lead on Norris and Darnell, but Darnell made up a little by leading the most laps with just three races to go.
Fultz now leads Norris by 42 points and Darnell by 49.
Local favorite Kevin Prince finished a distant fourth and Texas rookie Robert Richardson finished fifth. Five drivers that were at the track in July (including Wayne Anderson) failed to return for the makeup race.