Cincinnati Native Shoots For NASCAR Title In Tripleheader Fall Classic
Kentucky Speedway is a place that NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series driver Jeff Fultz knows very well. Having grown up in Cincinnati just across the Ohio River from the 1.5-mile tri-oval that seats close to 70,000 racing fans, Kentucky Speedway is a track that Fultz holds a great deal of love and respect for.
Then, when you consider that Fultz can become the most victorious driver among all racing divisions that compete at Kentucky Speedway with a fourth NAEDSS win at the track in the September 18 "Kentucky 150," it's easy to understand why he's eager to return to his home track.
"I'm excited about getting back to Kentucky," Fultz says. "It's cool because it's our home track. We probably draw 200 or 300 family and friends from Cincinnati to watch me race. We've built a new car just for this race. All the guys on my team know how special this track is to me, so they built me a little better car with a fresher body. We've put a lot of emphasis into this Saturday night's race. I'm excited about it because Kentucky Speedway means a lot to me personally."
Fultz returns to Kentucky Speedway as a man on a mission as he hopes to make the home crowd happy with not only the Southeast Series victory in "The Kentucky 150," but also a possible second career Southeast Series championship. If Fultz were to score the win Saturday night and second-ranked Erik Darnell finishes 15th or lower, the crown will be awarded to Fultz.
Fultz has become all too aware through the years that anything can change - and probably will - in the final two races of the 2004 Southeast Series season. That point was illustrated quite vividly last season when he encountered poor racing luck on the Kentucky Speedway tri-oval and finished 30th. His focus, he says, is leading every lap and hoping the chips fall in his favor when all is said and done at the end of the year.
"I don't care about the math, I just want to win the race and let the points fall where they fall," Fultz says. "When we show up at the track, we're there to win the race. We just have to race a little more cautious at Kentucky. If we're racing going into the corner three-wide, I'm going to watch what I'm doing because I don't need to get in a position where I wreck and lose 70 or 80 points. We can't let that happen. We know how to race for points if we have to and if we can't win then we have to try to get every position we can."
Fultz has won five Southeast Series races this year and is riding a two-race winning streak into Saturday night's race. The last Southeast Series race that Fultz won came at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway when he scored the 22nd victory of his career to break a tie with Wayne Anderson on the all-time Southeast Series win list. Fultz admits that what he wants the most is to sweep both of this year's races at Kentucky Speedway.
"If we were to win both of the Southeast Series races at Kentucky, that would probably be the highlight of my season," Fultz says. "To win both Southeast Series races at Kentucky that says a lot about both the team and the driver."
Should Fultz not be able to score the win at Kentucky, he admits a solid top-five finish would go a long way in relaxing his comfort level heading into the Southeast Series season-finale at the Music City Motorplex in Nashville, Tenn. on Sept. 25.
"It would make for a lot more relaxing week than I've had this week," Fultz jokes. "I know I'd better take this seriously because I've lost 91 points in one race before and that ended up costing me the Southeast Series championship. It's very easy to lose ground. I lost the championship my first year in the Southeast Series in 1997 by two points because I had problems in one race. It was the same way last year because just one race cost us another championship.
"One race has cost us the Southeast Series championship a couple of times and we know it can happen again," Fultz says. "We have to use our heads as a team but we're still going into this race looking to win."
Fultz has finished second in the Southeast Series standings three times, winning his first division title in 2002. When he finally captured the Southeast Series championship trophy, Fultz admits it was one of the greatest moments of his racing career.
"It felt like it took forever because I'd been racing in the Southeast Series on a full-time basis since 1997," Fultz says. "We finished second in the standings in 2000, third in 2001 before we finally won our first title in 2002. Then we finished second again last year to Charlie Bradberry by 17 points. To win the Southeast Series championship in 2002 really brought a lot of closure to me because I'd been so close to winning the title before then. I feel like if we are to go on and win the championship this year as well as all the victories we've had, that would be about as sweet as it could get. It would wrap up a really good year for me.
"We'd like to move up to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series next season, but if nothing works out I always know I have the Southeast Series to call home."
The Kentucky Speedway Tripleheader Fall Classic will feature a combined 475-miles of action in one day with the IPOWER DASH Series, NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division Southeast Series (NAEDSS) and American Speed Association (ASA) National Tour. Speedway gates will open at 1:00 p.m., a pre-race concert with Country Music Association Vocal Duo of the Year Award nominee Blue County begins at 2:00 p.m., and pre-race festivities follow at 3:15 p.m. The IPOWER DASH Series "Kentucky 100", NAEDSS "Kentucky 150,"and the ASA National Tour "BFGoodrich Tires 225" will follow.
|Tickets are still available and can be reserved in the following ways:|
|•||By phone at 888-652-RACE|
|•||On the World Wide Web at www.kentuckyspeedway.com or tickets.com|
|•||Tickets.com outlets including all Meijer stores|
|•||Through the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices at 2216 Dixie Hwy., Ste. 200, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky., |
and Fan Center in Sparta, Ky.
~ Kentucky Speedway ~