Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast at Myrtle Beach Speedway and Jeff Fultz embodied that spirit en route to a season-opening victory on Saturday afternoon in the CARS Tour Super Late Model season-opener at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Fultz won a largely procedural affair with the entire field running at an extremely slow pace, waiting for the stage breaks on Lap 40 and Lap 70. The field was allowed to take two extra tires and make changes during the caution with 30 laps to go, setting the stage for a frantic run to the finish.
Fultz held off a hard-charging Chandler Smith over the final 10 laps, including on a restart with five laps to go. Smith could get to the rear bumper but just couldn’t clear Fultz, allowing the three-time All-Pro Series champion to collect $10,000 in a rare behind-the-wheel appearance away from his usual duties as a FURY Race Cars crew chief.
“I knew that was going to be tough,” Fultz said. “Our car starting to get a little bit tight and I needed to do a good job of just hitting my marks and mostly did that. I drove in so deep in Turn 3 on that last lap that i just about hit the inside wall.
“I looked in my rear view and couldn’t see well with the sun, and he just about got to me. All in all, it was just a good day. We took this FURY Race Car right out of the box and they make it real easy. Walker Motorsports just bought one of our cars they let me put it through the paces here.”
Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Raphael Lessard qualified on pole and led the first lap but was quickly overtaken by Fultz on the frontstretch of the second lap. Fultz actually stretched the lead out during the first stage, many thinking he was driving too hard, while Lessard and Matt Craig dropped to the back to try to conserve their tires.
But Fultz slowed the pace of the race to such a degree from Laps 40 to 70 that it didn’t make a difference once the field was allowed to take two more tires in time for the 30 lap shootout.
“I was surprised that no one wanted to go at the start of the race, so I did and we got the lead,” Fultz said. “We could set that pace and do so easy without abusing the tires. I wasn’t going to risk going back there because I thought it would be too difficult to pass, especially with the two tires at the break.”
Smith gave Fultz two shoves over the final 10 laps, but couldn’t get the veteran off the preferred line.
“I couldn’t complete the pass,” Smith said. “If I could have just got to his door in 3 and 4, I felt like I probably could have got him through 1 and 2. We just couldn’t get in there in 3 and 4.”
Fultz is no longer a regular driver, spending most of his time as a FURY crew chief for the likes of Christian Eckes and Steven Wallace, but these are the kind of race tracks Fultz likes to race. Further, the allure of racing for $10,000 is something Fultz couldn’t pass up.
“Drivers say tracks need to put up money,” Fultz said. “They put a 10 grand to win race and I’m surpirsed there wasn’t 50 cars here.”
Maine’s Ryan Moore finished third and has enjoyed a pretty successful season thus far, earning a win during the World Series of Asphalt and now another solid finish against the likes of Fultz and Smith.
“You know, we’re not a professional team,” Moore said. “We just do this for fun. We like to come t places like this, drink beer and race, so to be able to hang with guys who race for a living, that’s a good day.
“We didn’t tear up our race car, which you risk in a big money race and we had fun. I feel like we’re getting closer to getting more wins and like the direction we’re heading.”
Preston Peltier ran inside the top-5 for much of the day but broke a trailing arm on Lap 74, eliminating him from the event. Craig never got a chance to employ his tire conservation strategy, having to pit under green shortly after Lap 70 for a mechanical issue.
The complete results from the CARS Tour Super Late Model season opener can be viewed below.
- Jeff Fultz
- Chandler Smith
- Ryan Moore
- Jeff Batten
- Anthony Cataldi
- Raphael Lessard
- Corey Heim
- Jared Fryar
- Gus Dean
- Matt Craig
- Jody Measmer
- Kodie Conner
- Chris Fontaine
- Tate Fogleman
- Molly Helmuth
- Taylor Stricklin
- Preston Peltier
Read more Short Track Scene:
- South Boston Preview and Fan Guide
- Molly Helmuth impresses in her CARS Tour SLM debut
- Lee Pulliam educates the CARS Tour field at Myrtle Beach