Sunday, July 28, 2002

Fultz eyes NASCAR's big show


Blue Ash native keeps winning on regional tour

        Blue Ash native Jeff Fultz continues to bang on the doors of NASCAR's upper levels while dominating one of the sport's regional touring circuits.

        Fultz, 33, won each of the past two weekends on the NASCAR Hills Brothers All-Pro series, following his July13 win at Myrtle Beach with a July19 victory at Nashville. The Sycamore High School graduate is just seven points off the 2002 season points lead, as he seeks his first All-Pro title after several near-misses.

        Fultz twice has finished second in the All-Pro season points race, and he finished in third last year. The series tours mostly the Southeast United States.

        Fultz has had occasional rides in the Busch series, one notch below Winston Cup. To pursue his dream, he moved several years ago to Mooresville, N.C., at the hub of most Winston Cup race shops near Charlotte.

        “We've got a new Busch consultant, and we think we can pick up some more knowledge there,” Fultz said. “We're going to see how far it takes us.”

        In May 2001, Fultz tried but failed to become the first Tristate driver in more than a decade to qualify for a Winston Cup race. His qualifying run for the 2001 Coca-Cola 600 fell short, and he has not been able to find Cup sponsorship since. His age sometimes makes owners look the other way, as the usual M.O. is to find drivers in their 20s (Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman) for the new rides.

        Fultz knows all that, but he presses on. By day, he works in the race shop of Cup driver Dave Blaney's Jasper Motorsports team. He works the pits at many Winston Cup races and has made a long list of contacts.

        “This is what we do,” said Fultz, who is married with three children. “We've got a good year going, and right now we really want to win that All-Pro championship.”

        Fultz will drive again at Kentucky Speedway Aug.10, as the All-Pro circuit returns during the Indy Racing League weekend. Fultz won both All-Pro races at Kentucky in 2001 and finished second in the spring race this year.

        JUNIOR DRAGSTERS: The third annual Masons Helping Kids/Children's Hospital Junior Dragster Open returns today to Edgewater Sports Park in Cleves. Gates open at 9a.m. and eliminations begin after noon.

        The event, sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association, benefits Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. There are four bracket classes and more than $6,300 in prize money. Parents and siblings of drivers work together as pit crew members at the event, which has become a popular feature at Edgewater.

        NHRA AT EDGEWATER: The annual NHRA Division 3 points meet, the largest event of the summer at Edgewater, returns this weekend (Aug.2-4). More than 500 drivers will compete in eight divisions for a purse of $164,500 in the event, officially the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. It is a feeder to the major- league NHRA Powerade (formerly Winston) series.

        Major NHRA stars such as Jeg Coughlin are among those who once drove in the event. Categories include Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Comp Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock Eliminator, Super Comp, Super Gas and Super Street.

        Friday, gates open at 8a.m. and qualifying/time trials start at 10:30a.m. Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car qualifying is scheduled at 5p.m.

        Saturday, gates open at 8a.m., with final qualifying/time trials at 9:30. Qualifying sessions for Top Alcohol and Funny Car continue at 5p.m. and 8p.m.

        Sunday, gates open at 8a.m. with eliminations beginning at 9a.m. Eliminations for Top Alcohol Dragster and Funny Car begin at 1p.m.

        General admission/pit pass costs are $15 Friday, $25 Saturday and $20 Sunday. A two-day ticket is $30 and a three-day ticket is $40. Children 6-12 are $5 each day and children 5 and under are admitted free with a paid adult. For information visit edgewaterrace.com or call (513) 353-4666.

        POINTS LEADERS: Jeff Seither of Fairfield leads the season points race at Edgewater. Jack Spivey of Williamsburg is the points leader at Tri-State Dragway, Hamilton. Tri-State offers a full regular program of IHRA racing today, with gates opening at 9:30a.m. and eliminations beginning at 1p.m.

        HOFFMAN RACING: Hoffman Auto Racing, located in Milford, recently became the all-time leader in Sprint Car wins with 53 and is leading the United States Auto Club points race in 2002.

        The Hoffman team competes in the Silver Crown and Sprint Car divisions of USAC.

        USAC standout Tracy Hines leads the national Sprint Car points race.

       



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