Barnes Has It All Go His Way En Route To All American Win
However, luck found Barnes. Just as he happened to run out of gas, the caution came out.
Barnes was able to dive on pit road, get some tires, some gas, and made his charge back toward the front.
Eventually, after more luck befell him, Barnes was able to pass Jason Hogan with just 10 to go to win the All American 300, part of the All American 400 weekend in Nashville. With it, Barnes got the guitar he’s been wanting.
“To have a guitar means a whole lot to me,” said Barnes Jr. “I was over in (ARCA Champion Frank) Kimmel’s shop and he told me that (the Nashville guitar) was the best trophy he’s ever got. I called him a few minutes ago and told him I got one now. He said ‘way to go.’”
It wasn’t just as easy as pitting and making his way back to the front of the field for Barnes though. After sitting on the pole and jumping out to the lead, Barnes got passed by Georgia’s Willard, who was on a tear to say the least.
Willard started the race 10th, but had worked his way to second by lap 58 and then passed Barnes for the lead in the middle of lapped traffic on lap 86. From there, Willard took off.
Chuck Barnes Jr. swept the pole and the race, but it wasn't as easy as it sounded. (51 Photos)
It looked as if it was all about to fall apart for 2004 Sunoco Super Series Champion and All American 300 pole sitter Chuck Barnes Jr. Then, maybe just some heavenly grace fell his way.
After leading the first 85 laps of event at the Music City Motorplex in Nashville (TN), Barnes slipped back to second behind the dominant Wayne Willard. Then, before you knew it, the car was sputtering. It was out of gas.
Willard proceeded to put most of the field a lap down. In fact, Willard was just putting the 10th place car a lap down when caution waved for debris and most of the leaders pitted.
Barnes stayed out.
Pretty soon, Willard was back out front and Barnes was hoping for another caution to make his stop. That’s where he got lucky the first time. That is when he ran out of gas. Luckily, a caution for a multi-car accident on the backstretch allowed Barnes to come in under caution and take his fuel.
Willard (#01s) passed Barnes Jr. (#55n) twice in traffic, but couldn't keep his car together at the end of the day.
Barnes second big break came when Willard’s bad break came.
Willard, dominating the event, quickly slowed and was passed for the lead by Hogan on lap 238. One lap later, Willard was in the pits and behind the wall. His day was done.
“It was a broken trailing arm bracket,” said a disgusted Willard after the race. “It was pretty sudden. I was just out there cruising. I had a real good chance of winning. I went down in the corner and it got sideways. I started coming down the front straight and it started crabbing. We knew something was wrong in the read end, so we had to come in before something even worse happened.”
It was the second year in a row (dating back to last year’s Patriot 200) that Willard appeared to have the dominate car, but mechanical problems took him out of the running. It is just yet another time the “big win” has eluded Willard, one of the top Super Late Model drivers in all of the south.
“It was very disappointing. That is al I can say. I’ve come close to winning this thing a couple of times before. Back in the mid-90s I had a chance to win it a couple of times and it just didn’t happen. It is just very disappointing and disheartening because every time I get a chance to win the big race, I just fall short for some reason.
“The big one just always slips away.”
With Willard out, Hogan led the charge, but Barnes was quickly coming. When Willard fell out, Eddie Hoffman was able to work his way around leader Hogan, getting himself back on the lead lap after falling a lap down during an early, green flag run.
After a couple more restarts, the last 50 laps was a fantastic three-car battle between Hogan, Barnes and Hoffman. Hogan did all he could to hold Barnes and Hoffman off, but fresher tires for the two Northern drivers eventually led the way. Barnes and Hoffman both got by Hogan with just 10 to go.
But it wasn’t over yet. A late caution for a spin meant a five-lap shootout, with Hoffman and Hogan looking to steal the win from Barnes.
However, luck for the Sunoco Champion came again. Hoffman and Hogan battled off the restart, allowing Barnes to pull away and cruise to the victory.
“I knew that last caution would be tough because Hoffman is a pretty tough guy,” said Barnes. “I lost my radio wire coming to that last green flag, but I managed to get it hooked up. Therefore, I didn’t have time to clean my tires off, so I ended up burning them off when I was taking the green. So I got myself calmed down going into one. I got my stuff together and we were off from there.
Eddie Hoffman (#8n) and Jason Hogan (#92s) had a run in late in the race that kept either from going for the lead.
“With all of that stuff happening, we couldn’t have asked for better luck, from running out of gas under the caution to not burning up my tires and not even cutting one of them. I guess the good Lord was watching us today. It was just one of those ‘meant to bes.’”
Hoffman had a long day, working his way back on the lead lap after getting in the back of the pack when he just got dinged up in a early accident. A long green run by Willard put Hoffman a lap down, but he was able to make it up.
However, Hoffman might have had a shot for Barnes at the end, but he didn’t get the chance.
Barnes takes the checkers at Nashville.
“We got lucky then and caught some breaks. Then we got on the lead lap and had a shot there at the end,” said Hoffman. “We came to that last restart and the 92 (Hogan) got into me sideways before we even got to the start/finish line and away went the 55 (Barnes) and our shot to win the race. It was just run for second from there on out.”
Hogan said he was just trying to take advantage of the situation.
“The sun started gong down and the car got tight on me at the end,” said Hogan, who’s been trying to win at Nashville for several years. “I gave them a last little shot there at the end, but that is al I had. I didn’t have anything left.”
Boris Jurkovic and Jeff Lane rounded out the top-five, the only other two drivers to finish on the lead lap. Gary Helton, Chris Gabehart, Ken McFarland, Johnny Brazier and Eddie Massengill rounded out the top-10. Five Southern and Five Northern guys finished in the top-10, but four of the top five were from the North.