Louisville, Kentucky driver Chuck Barnes held off a late charge from Brett Hudson to take his second straight Frank Kimmel Street Stock Nationals Polar Bear 150 Friday afternoon at Rockingham Speedway.
The second-annual race drew a nice-sized crowd on a day that started out cloudy and chilly. But by the end of the day, the sun was shining on Barnes as he pulled into Victory Lane.
Patience and perseverance, as usual, were the keys to prevailing in this race that started out with 60 cars on the legendary 1-mile oval of The Rock.
“You want to start close to the front, and stay out of trouble,” Barnes said.
Staying out of trouble was a tall order for most of the day, as the race featured 12 caution flags and two red flags.
The first major wreck of the day came in Lap 21, when the No. 12 car of Kyle Hadey lost control, hit the upper wall in between Turns 3 and 4, and blew a tire, collecting several other cars as it spun down to the infield.
Other wrecks followed frequently: The longest green-flag run of the day was 17 laps.
The battle between Barnes and Hudson was the main story of the afternoon, however, as there were 18 lead changes — many involving the two drivers.
Barnes said he prevailed despite Hudson having a superior car.
“We had a good car, not the fastest car,” Barnes said. “He (Hudson) is a good driver, and had the fastest car, I think. These cars are a whole lot better when they’re out front. Mine was, and I know his was, too.”
The final five-laps were basically a shoot-out between Barnes and Hudson. Hudson began to gain ground coming out of Turn 4, and Barnes held him off at the finish line by less than a car length.
“Another lap, and he would have got me,” Barnes said.
Despite the second-place finish, Hudson was pleased with his day.
“We stayed out of trouble, finished the race, and had a chance to win at the end,” Hudson said. “You can’t ask for more than that.”
Will Kimmel was third, followed by Frank Kimmel II in fourth and Chad Hall rounding out the top five.
“We were pretty good, but we needed long green flag runs, because we were a little short of power down the straightaway,” Will Kimmel said. “My car is kind of different, a leaf spring car, and we just needed a little more time.”
Those long green flag runs, unfortunately, were not to be found on Friday. Two of the 12 caution flags resulted from six-car wrecks, and as a result, just nine cars finished on the lead lap.
Just 41 of the 60 cars that took the green flag reached the halfway point.
Jimmy Elledge, crew chief for Scott Speed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, lasted just 60 laps.
“It’s my fault,” Elledge said. “I was being stupid and driving my car way too hard. It was way too loose. I was just trying to get to the halfway point to get it tightened up. I was faster than that guy in front of me, and I got below him. I almost had him cleared and he drove in on the outside of me and got me on the bottom. I was way too loose on the bottom. I tried to finish the pass off, and it just got away from me getting into the corner. I sun out and wrecked. Nobody’s fault but mine.”
All in all, it was a good day of racing at The Rock, Barnes said.
“This was one competitive race,” Barnes said. “I really like this track. Of course, winning helps, but we always run good h ere and it’s always a good race for the fans. Lots of passing, lots of lead changes.”
Pre-race festivities included spirited driver introductions, as well as the waving of the green flag by Dave Moody, host of “SIRIUS Speedway” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio 128 and lead turn announcer for MRN’s NASCAR race broadcasts.
And Martika Rush, a Richmond Senior High School graduate who currently attends North Carolina State University, got to take one of the biggest stages of her life to sing the national anthem before the race.
“It was nice to be part of such a big event,” said Rush, a journalism/public relations major. “I had a great time out there.”
Contact sports editor David Vantress at 997-3111, ext. 14 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.