SES LEFTOVERS: NASHVILLE PART ONE by Jeremy Troiano
Fultz: Poster Child, Big Accident Fallout, Robie Injuried & More
FULTZ: THE POSTER-CHILD FOR CONSERVATION
Jeff Fultz is a racer; one that always wants to get up on the wheel and race as hard as possible imaginable every single lap. But before the SES opener at Nashville (TN), Fultz knew that tire conservation would be the key to his night.
“The crew kept me calmed down,” said Fultz, who was not happy with his ninth-place qualifying run. “I wanted to go earlier, but we needed to save our tires. We needed to get by a couple other cars to be able to get up there to the front. We were all as good as Brian (Hoppe, the race's eventual winner), but I don't know if any of us was any better. To get out of here tonight with what we have is great. It's a third and we can be excited.”
Fultz's night was made possible by narrowly avoiding the night's biggest accident, the 12-car pileup that happened on lap 17.
“I came off the corner wide open and they started spinning.
My spotter said go low and that is what I did, and the hole closed up right behind me. It's a hell of a job by my spotter. Our night could have been really bad had we not made it through that one.”
“THE BIG ONE”
The race was only 17 laps old when the night's biggest accident triggered a huge pile-up that could have involved a lot more cars than it did.
Coming off of turn two, the #71 of Indiana businessman Ray Skillman went around right in front of most of the oncoming field. When the red flag came out, a total of 12 cars were piled into the mess or stopped on the track with some sort of damage. A number of others may have gotten through the mess, but did suffer a little body damage as well.
The reason for Skillman's spinning car is a tale of two different stories from two different drivers.
“I know exactly what happened,” said Skillman. “The 92-
Jeff Fultz saved his car till the end in Nashvile and it paid off for him with a third-place finish.
car (Jason Hogan) just drove down under us, into us and turned us and then stayed on the gas. I tried to gather the car back up and he turned me again and just stayed on the gas.
“The sad thing about it is that they've torn up a lot of good cars. Our car is torn up pretty bad, but there are about five other cars over there that didn't deserve it. They weren't a part of the deal, but they ended up being a big part of it.
Skillman parted our interview by asking, “Where was he (Hogan) going?”
Hogan’s perspective on the incident is completely different.
Skillman was fast but wasn't there at the end of the night. (51 Photos)
“I don’t know what happened,” added Hogan. “We didn’t get together with Skillman because there was no mark on our right front fender except some rubber left on the car from when Skillman was spinning and we got into him a bit. I got lucky to get through it all.”
It wasn't Hogan's only incident of the night (read more below) and following the race, he was called into the Southeast Series' version of the “big white trailer” and talked to by series director Les Westerfield.
Jason Hogan said he never touched Skillman.
“He basically told me I was a very talented driver who also was a little aggressive. I've learned that you need to race that way. I don't do anything to anyone intentionally and I didn't do anything like that tonight. It is just hard racing.”
“THE BIG ONE'S” FALLOUT
A number of top cars were either taken out or suffered serious damage that limited their nights in the lap 17 accident. Two of the Southeast Series' toughest competitors, Kevin Prince and Terry Mason Jr, were both victims on the accident and done for the night.
“There were just cars everywhere,” said Mason when asked of what he saw. “They wanted to race like it was the last lap on the 20th lap I guess. I was just sitting there riding, but you know how that goes. That is what always happens when you just ride I guess.”
Mason was seen limping around after the race, but he said he was ok, even though his car took a wicked shot in the driver's door during the accident. Just after it, Mason climbed out of his car and sat down on the track to catch his bearings.
“I'm just sore from when they hit me in the driver's side there. I'll be ok. But it really knocks you down a couple of notches. There is always next week. We will use the speedway car at Hickory because we are not going to get this one fixed that is for sure.”
Prince was also an innocent victim in the whole thing. Prince's night was made worse as the car he was running was a brand new one built by Jeff Fultz's crew.
“I didn't see anything but a bunch of cars stopping right in front of us,” said Prince. “There was just no where to go. Being fresh off of a restart, it is just racing. I hate to call it that, but there is no other way to do it.
“It is tough because this was a brand new car. There were a lot of hours put into this car, but you know it may happen every time you come out here.”
Several of the top cars were taken out in the big one, including Terry Mason's #55 and Kevin Prince's #1.
ROBIE BREAKS WRIST IN THE “BIG ONE”
As safety workers tended to the drivers involved in the accident, it was obvious that Jarod Robie, a Southeast Series invader from the northeast, was hurt. The ambulance took Robie to Vanderbilt Medical Center where he was diagnosed with multiple breaks to his left wrist. Jarod was temporarily treated and released from the medical center around 1:00 A.M. Sunday morning.
"We had a great car and could have finished in the top five or better,” said Robie. “It's disappointing to see so many good cars get wrecked early in a race. I'm okay and am looking forward to getting the medical attention necessary to get me back to racing soon."
Robie's car didn't look as bad as others, but he came out far worse.
Jarod will see an orthopedic surgeon back home in Maine to determine the care that will be needed to get him back to racing as soon as possible.