Man of His Word: Chapman Wins ISCARS 150 at Florence Motor Speedway
Man of His Word: Chapman Wins ISCARS 150 at Florence Motor Speedway
Tony Stevens/ISCARS PR
October 28, 2006
FLORENCE, SC (Oct. 30, 2006) - "We'll get them next time." That's what Johnny Chapman said three weeks ago after a third place finish in the ISCARS race in Hickory, NC. Last Saturday night, Chapman picked up exactly where he left off, starting third and leading the most laps en route to "getting them" for the first time in 2006 in the ISCARS Championship 150 at Florence Motor Speedway. Eric Wilson was able to clinch his first series title by finishing eighth.
Danny Bagwell won the pole for the event and led the opening segment of the race, locking in ten bonus points, cutting the point deficit to 40 points behind Wilson. An incident at the green flag gave the entire field a quick reflex check as second place starter Joey Miller had a driveshaft break, sidelining him for the event and bringing out the first caution on lap 2.
Following a second yellow on lap five for Charles Butler's spin to the inside wall on the frontstretch, Bagwell pulled out to a small lead after the green and was pursued by Chapman, Mark Howard, Wilson, and Jake Hobgood. Scott Weaver, who started sixth, was on the move in the early stages of the race and was up to fourth by lap 16.
By lap 23, Chapman had caught leader Danny Bagwell and began hounding the back bumper of the No. 10 Five Brothers Produce/Torbert Trucking Mercury. Chapman even nudged the second place point man when negotiating lapped traffic, but got by cleanly on lap 29 and set sail ahead of the field. Scott Weaver soon followed and was up to second by lap 33.
Perry Nantz and Joe Seago had a close encounter in turn two on lap 37 that led to the third caution flag of the evening. Both cars were damaged beyond repair and retired for the evening, as did Nick Pistone with engine problems.
After the green, Chapman once again jumped out to the lead, but polesitter Bagwell started going the wrong direction and smoke was spotted coming from his car on lap 45 by race control. The Alabama driver was not leaking any noticeable fluid and was able to continue in the fourth spot.
As Bagwell and Eric Wilson fought problems with their cars, Scott Weaver fought with Johnny Chapman for the lead. The driver of the No. 2 Weaver Racecars Pontiac stole the lead from Chapman on lap 52, bringing Jake Hobgood with him to second.
On lap 57, running eighth, Eric Wilson had one of many scares on the evening. Racing hard for the sixth spot, Chris Chapman and Mark Howard tangled in turn two just in front of the championship leader. Wilson escaped unscathed, Chapman was done for the evening.
After the restart, Jake Hobgood turned on the afterburners and blew by Scott Weaver to the lead and held the top spot through the halfway break. Mike Watts, racing with Eric Wilson for the seventh spot, won the GoFastBeSafe.com Safe Move of the Race Award on lap 71 when he broke loose and stayed off of the No. 4 of Wilson.
Following the halfway break, Hobgood shot out to the lead once more in his No. 64 Cedar Creek Collision Pontiac followed by Johnny Chapman. Eric Wilson began falling back from his restart position of fourth soon after racing action resumed, being passed by Scott Krehling and Mike Watts by lap 88.
"We tried something at halfway when I told them to make an adjustment," said Wilson after the event. "Sometimes I thought I could run with the guys up front but at times it seemed like we couldn't run with them. Maybe it was just me being too conservative, it's hard to say."
Mark Howard went for a ride off of turn three on lap 94 and brought out the sixth caution of the event. He was able to continue, but the car began experiencing mechanical issues soon after the accident and he was unable to recover.
A fire was lit under Johnny Chapman's No. 24 AlarmSouth/US Restoration Pontiac after the lap 97 restart. Chapman bypassed second place Weaver within 15 laps and began working on Hobgood. The part-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver took Mickey York's team to the front again on lap 116.
Eric Wilson's bad night got worse on lap 123 when the Huntington House/John Boy & Billy Pontiac slid up the track in turn three with a flat right front tire. Caution waved over the speedway for the seventh time and Wilson went a lap down on the track. His team was able to change the tire without losing further time and Wilson rejoined the field at the end of the longest line, his penalty for pitting before pit road was open.
"I went into three and it just would not turn and I thought 'oh, no!,' and my heart just went dead. It didn't just go down, it had blown out by that point," explained Wilson. "We got back in here when the caution came out and had to go really slow because the oil pan on these cars has very little clearance at all. I talked to the guys about what we had to do and they did a heck of a job because we had practiced for that situation."
The final caution of the night came out on lap 130 for the largest incident of the night. Danny Bagwell, racing hard for his first series title, made contact with Mike Watts in turn three and both cars spun while collecting the machines of Mark Howard, Scott Krehling, and Wilson.
"On the restart I ran into the back of Mike (Watts) and feel really bad about that," Bagwell said in a very solemn tone after the event. "If I'd have been on top of my game and knew where Eric was at, I could've been a little bit more relaxed about riding where I was at until a little bit later on, but I didn't do that."
"When they had that wreck, I thought 'what else can happen?,' and got on the brakes, turned it, went spinning out, and everything else," Wilson elaborated after the event. "I had no idea Danny was in it at that point, but I wasn't in good shape then. I was torn up mentally. I thought, 'This is it, we've lost it right here,' and then I came out and saw Danny's car torn up too. It eased the pain a little bit. We got the lucky dog and it all changed from there. I knew we were going to be in pretty good shape then."
When cleanup completed from the turn three incident, Chapman led the field to the green for a fifteen lap shootout. The all-time winningest active driver in the series showed why he's captured two series championships himself when he shot out to the lead over Jake Hobgood. Never seriously challenged again, Chapman won his first event of 2006 and the 15th of his career, moving him into a tie with Jake's father Will on the all-time win list.
"We ended up running a little harder than I wanted to start with, so we fell back to third. The car got free and I told Mickey we should make a change at halfway," Chapman said in victory lane. "That change came in perfect. Scott (Weaver) and Jake (Hobgood) were having a good race and I enjoyed watching them and almost messed up by waiting too long [to pass them]. It was a lot of fun and I want to thank the Lord for a good, safe race and I hope the fans liked it. This is just the start for next year in ISCARS. Everybody stay tuned because it's going to be fun!"
"I just wanted to bide my time and not kill the tires because we've done that the last few races," second place Jake Hobgood remarked afterwards. "Everything went to plan, just Johnny was a little bit better in the end. I ran probably 80% most of the race, even when I was leading, and when we got to the end with Johnny leading after the last caution, I gave it all that I had. He made a slip off of four once and I thought we had a shot at him, but the car just had no forward bite, no 'mmph' getting off of the corner. Naturally, I wanted to end the year with a win, at least, but we look forward to next time."
Eric Wilson finished eighth, but that result was good enough to secure his first series title. The Hickory, NC, driver is the raceday jackman for the No. 32 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Tide/Downy Chevrolet driven by Travis Kvapil. The final margin of victory was 22 points - as little as four positions over the course of the year, or even bonus points for laps led.
"I'm really happy for all of my guys because we've been together for four or five years now," Wilson said. "It's nice to be able to reward them for all of their hard work, as well as my parents, my wife and my kids. My parents have been putting up with this for nearly 20 years now. All week, I thought about if we didn't win it and how I'd be letting them down. To be able to do this for them is pretty special to me.
"Cal Wells is such a great individual. He said that since I've been so loyal to him, he's going to do everything he can to help me and my racing career," Wilson continued. "It's nothing compared to a Cup career but he's always keeping up with what we're doing. He's gone way out of his way with plane tickets and some of the stuff we've done on Saturday nights after these races. Without PPI, we wouldn't have been able to do this."
Danny Bagwell, Wilson's closest challenger in the points chase, was also concerned about his team. He ended the event in fourth place.
"I'm not very satisfied with myself tonight. I feel like I didn't do the best job I could and that I kind of let emotion get the best of me," Bagwell admitted. "After the caution came out, I realized that I probably had made the biggest mistake of the whole season right there in that single incident. Anytime you can win a couple of races, run up front, and be close in the points, you almost have to call the year a success, but I still feel like I let my crew down with my performance."
The ISCARS Dash Touring drivers have the winter off to build more cars, update their equipment and return for the first race of the tentative 12-race schedule in 2007. The official schedule release is slated for the next few weeks and includes new tracks and some facilities from this season as well.
To keep up with off season happenings or for more information on ISCARS, visit www.iscarsonline.com, and be sure to catch the latest episode of ISCARS Full Throttle on local Comcast, America One, and Cox Communications affiliates. If those providers aren't available, current and archived shows are always available around the clock at www.theautochannel.com.
OTHER NOTES OF INTEREST:
SOMETHING IN THE WATER? OR BARBECUE?: Mickey York and Mark Howard made an appearance in Randleman, NC, a week ago during the town's NASCAR Days festival that celebrates the area's contributions to the sport of auto racing through the Petty family and other racers. Local churches conduct fundraisers and local merchants display their crafts and items for sale to the community during the event as well. York, a former Dash Series champion, is the owner of Johnny Chapman's car that won the race. Howard had a season-best starting spot and was running in the top ten before an accident sent him back in the field. Maybe there really was something special in some of those barbecue sandwiches....
TOYOTA RETURNS: It's been since Hickory in April that ISCARS has seen one of the foreign makes eligible for competition show up at the racetrack. On Saturday, Charles Butler started the event in a Toyota Celica. Toyota got its stock car racing start in the Dash Series, most notably winning championships with Robert Huffman and the White House Apple Juice machine.
HUNGRY? WHY WAIT?: Florence Motor Speedway hosted a costume contest and a stock car race broke out on Saturday night. Promoter Charlie Powell invited children and parents to attend the ISCARS event in costume and prizes were awarded to best dressed attendees. The ISCARS teams were also involved by passing out candy to all of the children in addition to the customary autographs before each ISCARS event.
EXTRA SPENDING MONEY: By winning his first event of 2006, Johnny Chapman took home a $500 bonus from ISCARS that was offered to any driver winning his first race of the season on Saturday night. Add that to the $200 bonus from Velocity Management, Inc. and GoFastBeSafe.com, the No. 24 team was able to have a very robust victory celebration after they left the racetrack.
1. Johnny Chapman
2. Jake Hobgood
3. Scott Weaver
4. Danny Bagwell
5. Ned Combs
6. Scott Krehling
7. Danny Keaton
8. Eric Wilson
9. Davis Myers
10. Mark Howard
11. Mike Watts
12. Bert Belter
13. Chris Chapman
14. Nick Pistone
15. Perry Nantz
16. Joey Jones
17. Joe Seago
18. Charles Butler
19. Joey Miller
20. Buster Bennet