SES LEFTOVERS: LANIER by Jeremy Troiano
Hogan Mad... Long Returns In Style... Wakefield Has Big Weekend
HOGAN HOPPING MAD
Hometown hero Jason Hogan, who came into the Firecracker 150 at Lanier National Speedway second in the point standings, had a race that he would quickly like to forget in front of a crowd that was largely made up of Hogan supporters and fans
Just seven laps into the event, Hogan broke a panhard bar coming off of a restart. That broke the driveshaft and Hogan's car came to rest on the front stretch. The team got the car repaired and he returned to the track about 40 laps off of the pace.
“My guys did an awesome job at getting that driveshaft replaced,” said Hogan, who is from Cleveland (GA), just 20 mins. from the Lanier track. “So we got that all fixed and went back out and we wanted to show everyone here that we had the fastest car.
But with just 30 laps remaining, Hogan and the car of pole sitter Erik Darnell got together causing Darnell to spin. Hogan, in turn, was shown the black flag by NASCAR.
“I never touched anybody passing them out there tonight. I got into Erik Darnell once, but there was a break in the radio. It was my fault. I hit him there was nothing I could do about that.”
Hogan had plenty of words for the two black flags and other things that NASCAR did on Friday.
“I don't know. I guess they are just trying to give this (championship) to Fultz. Yeah I broke. But there is no reason to give me crap out there. If you are faster than someone and can pass them clean, then do it. I never touched Fultz when I was passing him. So there is no reason to do what they did by giving me those black flags. They can do everything in their power to help him win the points, but from now on, he is going to have to earn it.
“Those two black flags? I don't know what they were for. Just stupid stuff I'd guess . That is like NASCAR waiting two laps to throw the caution when I can't move on the race track. There was no way I could move and I was in a pretty dangerous spot coming off of turn four.
This slogan adorns the inside of Jason Hogan's car each and every week. (51 Photos)
“I got to go to the NASCAR trailer for the second time this year. They expect you not to race. But I've got just as much race car as anyone else. If I can get to them, drive by them and leave them, there is no reason I should have to stay behind them all night. That is pretty much what we were doing.
“We will be back at Caraway (Speedway, July 7) and they all better have their stuff together because they are going to have to earn it from now on. There ain't no more giving now.”
BACK FROM A “LONG” TIME OFF
Jason Hogan was mad at some of the calls made against him by NASCAR Friday night.
Florida Super Late Model and Snowball Derby veteran Donald Long made his first NASCAR Southeast Series start in over three years at Lanier National Speedway on Friday. And the long wait was well worth it, as Long was strong all night long and finished an impressive second.
“We had this car pushed away in the garage for about two and a half years,” said Long, who started the race third. “We dusted her off and figured we would run these next three races.
Jason Hogan said he never touched Skillman.
“We'd been running all around the area, but this year, the number of races we were doing slowed down and we haven't been able to race nearly as much. So we broke the car out, updated it and got on the road. It seemed like a good way to spend the summer, so we decided to go after it.”
If Long could have had anything for eventual race winner Jeff Fultz is a question that won't be answered, but in the end, a second-place finish was better than what 18 other drivers experienced.
“It was pretty good. I guess we were fighting what everyone else was fighting. We dug as hard as we could. It was a good run for us. I think we still got it. It will just take a little time.”
NO MORE PRACTICE FOR WAKEFIELD?
Outside of the dominance of Jeff Fultz and the run in between Jason Hogan and Erik Darnell, the story of the weekend surrounded 22-year-old Justin Wakefield.
Wakefield and the Carswell Motorsports Team started shotgun on the field, 20th, and finished third. However, it was just the start of a wild and crazy couple of days for the team.
Wakefield wrecked the car at Nashville Superspeedway and sent it off to Port City South to get fixed. The team got the car back on Tuesday night before the scheduled Thursday race at Lanier. The team was so behind,
they took zero practice laps and didn't attempt to qualify for the race, instead, falling back on a provisional.
The first laps the car saw on the track was when the green flag dropped Friday evening.
“It was a tough past couple of days, I'll tell you that. And I'd been tired anyway,” said Wakefield. “So starting from the back, we looked that there was only one way to go and
Wakefield didn't get much time in his car at Lanier, but still finished third.
that was forward. With that in mind, we had a little more confidence. We couldn't finish worse than we started.
“We didn't get the car back until Tuesday night at 7 pm. It was pretty much a bare chassis. We started working on it as soon as it got there pretty much non stop. I'd say we got about three hours of sleep. We just thrashed all day and all night long. We got here late and didn't get to
qualify. I'll tell you what, a run like that makes everyone feel good. That was the definition of teamwork and hard work right there.”
When joked around with and asked if Wakefield will just give up practicing altogether and just show up and race, he said “no, we are not going to quit practicing. I think we actually could have tuned it a
little better. But she was pretty good for just coming out of the box.”
“COME FROM BEHIND KID” STRIKES AGAIN
Rookie JR Norris is starting to get a reputation. That reputation is as the “come from behind kid.” And JR lived up to it yet again Friday night at Lanier.
Norris, who came into the Lanier race third in the point standings and leading the rookie brigade, qualified second, but had to start ninth as a result of the mandatory SES invert. Norris worked his way to the front of the field in no time, running second and chasing down race leader Jeff Fultz. Unfortunately, coming off of turn four, Norris lost control of his Richie Wauters' owned #5 and looped it, sending him to the rear of the field.
“It was loose. Real bad loose,” said Norris. “So we just rode it out. I made a little mistake and spun it out. So we continued racing and were coming back through the pack but decided to come in and made some adjustments. We came back out and got up to fourth. It was a tight field. Man, real tight. It was a lot of work.”
So again, like he has many times this season, Norris made a charge from the back of the pack to the front on three occasions, eventually coming home fourth.
JR Norris has come from behind plenty of times this year.
“I have a few marks on the car but nothing major. That is good, because now we can spend time working on the chassis. Richie is probably going to be mad because I put a little dent in the front but if he saw what I had to come through he'd be proud of me. I'll have to explain it to him when I get home. He'll se the car before he talks to me. We 'll work on it and get it back together.”
With Wauters in Kansas for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, Norris relied on the help of veteran car builder Robert Hamke, who served as Norris' crew chief at Lanier.
“I have to thank Robert Hamke for coming with us. He was really a big help. Also, have to thank my guys. They worked hard. Unfortunately, a couple of them had to leave after the race got pushed back till Friday. So I really want to thank the guys that stayed with me today. Without them I wouldn't have been able to do that.”
BUSY TIMES FOR DAVIDSON
Texas standout Chris Davidson didn't want to see the rain begin to fall at Lanier Thursday. However, the rain did fall and it pushed the race back till Friday. Davidson, who had never seen Lanier before Thursday, now had to fight a “green” racetrack and felt as if he was at a disadvantage with such limited track time.
He didn't show it in the race though as he powered up from his 16th place starting spot to finish eighth.
“We qualified horrible and that is something we really got to work on, but we were hoping the car would be better come race time,” said Davidson. “Unfortunately, race time came Friday and all of the rubber was washed off of the track, so we had no idea what the track was going to do.
“When the race started, the car was really good. We made up a bunch of spots and were up to fifth at one point. We
thought we had something and we just got real tight. We lost a couple of more spots and just held on to the end. The rain really made it rough on us because we've never been here. Everyone else that has raced here probably had a small advantage. All in all, I guess as long as everything is in on piece, it is good.”
The rainout on Thursday nearly put a damper on Davidson's weekend plans, one that will be quite busy for the 26-year-old. Davidson was scheduled to be back in Texas on Saturday to attend his sister's wedding before quickly turning around and heading back toward North Carolina for this coming Wednesday's (July 7) event at Caraway Speedway.
“I was a little worried, but it looks like everything will work out fine. I'm flying back tonight to go to my sister's wedding. We will just leave the car up here somewhere with two guys. I'll leave again on
Tuesday to drive up this way for the next race. It is a pretty busy, hectic time for us.”
THE POPE HAS THE RIGHT STUFF
One of the nicest and quietest guys in the entire NASCAR Southeast Series is putting together a career year in 2004. And that career year continued on Friday night at Lanier.
In seven races, Greg Pope has four top-10 finishes, including his fourth-place run at Lanier and a fifth at Nashville Superspeedway. He is currently sixth in the series point standings.
“I was proud of that run,” said Pope of his Lanier night. “They
impounded the cars after Thursday and it might have hurt us a little. We were running fourth and I asked (my crew) how many cars were on the lead lap because we had to make some sort of changes. I was screaming 'this thing is killing me.' But everything worked out well. It was awful slick. Everyone had to deal with the same problems though
“We had a good qualifying run. In fact, that is is our best qualifying run ever thus far. And of course, I say so far.”
Greg Pope is one of the nicest guys in the SES garage area.
Pope qulaified third (started eighth) in the event.
“I was proud of the guys. We didn't tear up the car and didn't beat it up. We'll go again on Wednesday (at Caraway Speedway, NC) and see what we can do.”
TWO DRIVERS JUMP SHIP
When the competitors walked back in the pits on Friday evening, two competitors, AJ Frank and Walter Sutcliffe had withdrew their cars from the event, bringing the starting field down from 22 to 20.