AUDIO/RECAP: Too Tough to Tame; Hurlow Takes Two Tires, Storms to Full Throttle Cup Win at Darlington

Jacob Seelman Audio, Featured, iRacing, Southeast 1 Comment

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Recap by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — LSRTV audio — Evan Posocco/iRacing.com photo —

For almost two months, RCO-Boomtown Sim’s Christopher Hurlow watched as each of his three teammates charged to their first-career =RSR= Full Throttle Cup Series victories and secured their respective spots on the Chase Grid.

Monday night at Darlington Raceway, in one of the most heroic and improbable underdog drives in series history, he was finally able to do the same.

Hurlow took two tires at the direction of crew chief William Hale during his final pit stop to assume the lead, then held off the likes of Jeff Ward and defending champion Eric Brundies to lead the final 25 laps and win the fourth annual Southern 200.

For 20 straight laps, Brundies, and then Ward after lap 120, tried to charge to the inside and get enough momentum to slide up in front of the No. 87 Office Depot/Performance Motorsports Network Chevrolet, but neither could deny the rookie his moment in the sun — with Hurlow becoming the 41st driver in series history to take a trip to Garry Mercer Trucking Victory Lane.

“If you’d have told me that we’d be able to pull off a win on strategy at Darlington, of all places, coming into the night — I’d have said you were crazy,” Hurlow laughed. “I still can’t believe it. The pit strategy was perfect, but I had to drive my [tail] off to stay out front. I knew coming into the race that I needed a win [to make the Chase] and that I was willing to gamble for it, so to see it work out is absolutely insane.”

Hurlow said he was thankful for the two racing him cleanly, but hard, in the closing laps as they fought tooth and nail for the victory at one of the sport’s toughest and most historic tracks.

“I was just driving with all the heart and passion I have to stay in front of Jeff and Eric there at the end,” the rookie said. “I have to give both of them a ton of credit — and my thanks — for racing me the way that they did. Either one of them could have bashed me into the wall there, but no one touched anybody and we were able to put on one heck of a show.

“This [win] really does mean the world to me, because of all that and more. Darlington is such a grueling track, so tough to drive. I really have a lot of respect for it, just like I do the people I raced against tonight in order to get here. To get your first-career =RSR= Full Throttle Cup Series win at a track that can bite you like this one can, it’s a true accomplishment and I couldn’t be more grateful right now.”

The win wasn’t sealed, however, until lap 130 of 133, when Ward and Brundies crashed on the exit of turn four while racing for second. Ward had slapped the wall in turn three and finally came down the banking just enough to make contact with Brundies, turning them both in front of the field and sending Hurlow on to the caution and checkered flags.

“That was a crazy night for us right there,” Ward said after the race. “First off, I want to apologize to anyone that got caught up in that crash, especially Eric. He and I were having a good fight there for second and I just came off the wall and got into him.”

“As far as the battle with Chris though, that was great. I gave it everything I had in order to pass him — it was just so hard to get enough momentum and not get loose on the bottom. He did everything right, held his line and he earned it. I know how hard he and that team have worked and I’m really happy for him to get that win tonight. Wish we could have made something work, but happy for Chris for sure.”

At the start, Ward drove out in front of the pack as if he was shot from a cannon, leading through the first caution flag at lap five in his Rusty Wallace throwback No. 89 Chevrolet. Ward, however, would tag the wall and earn a famed “Darlington Stripe”on lap 12, handing the race lead to Hurlow’s teammate Mitch Rollo.

Behind them, Anthony DeBaro made contact with Daniel Eberhardt’s Toyota and spun on the frontstretch to bring out the second caution of the night, bringing the leaders down pit road and seeing defending series champion Eric Brundies rise to the occasion in his Terry Labonte tribute Ford.

Brundies would lead from lap 14 all the way through the race’s third yellow at lap 38, for a multi-car crash involving Scott Stenzel, Chad Cole and Eberhardt on the backstretch. While Cole would stay out to lead lap 40 and claim a bonus point towards his Chase Grid hopes, Brundies would resume command of the lead at lap 41 and never relinquish the point again until the pit sequence on lap 108 that ultimately put Hurlow out front to stay.

Because of the caution freezing the field inside of four laps to go, points leader Dwayne Vincent finished runner-up ahead of Comstock(?), DeBaro and Ward, who was able to get his car righted and rounded out the top five.

Relegated to ninth in the exchange, Brundies was understandably frustrated after the race, seeing a Darlington victory snatched from his grasp for the second straight year after leading 93 of the race’s 133 laps.

“I can’t blame Jeff for the crash — he just came off the wall, it wasn’t his fault that all the outrageousness happened at the end,” Brundies said. “As far as our race, we tagged the wall twice (at laps 57 and 73), but it never hurt the right side enough to scrub any of our speed away. We had the car to beat, and then … Hurlow went and took two tires. He wasn’t fast all race but used strategy that paid off. At Darlington, you can’t pass at all, so he outsmarted the rest of us who had better cars I guess.”

“He’s lucky it was Jeff and I racing him, because we both try to race everyone clean and most people in =RSR= would have just put him in the fence. If he and [Boomtown] keep racing like they are though, they won’t win a championship.

In total, seven cautions slowed the pace for 26(?) laps, including a multi-car crash at lap 85 that collected Dan Murray, Brennan Mercer, Rich Jette, David Washington and others in turn one.

As a result — and combined with Hurlow’s win removing a points position on the Chase Grid — Mercer is the 16th and final driver on the inside of the championship fight with one race remaining before the 10-race Chase for the Full Throttle Cup begins, 30 points up on Steve Gottschalk. Vincent continues to lead the regular-season standings, though his advantage has been trimmed to just five points over Comstock.

Prior to the green flag, Ward collected his fifth career GMercer.com Pole Award, touring the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval in 27.718 seconds (177.415 mph) to garner the top starting spot.

The =RSR= Full Throttle Cup Series takes a week off for Labor Day before the final race to make the Chase, the GMercer.com 200, from Richmond International Raceway. Brundies is the three-time defending winner in Full Throttle Cup action at RIR.

 

Audio with race winner Christopher Hurlow and team owner Corbin Himstreet:

Audio with runner-up Dwayne Vincent:

Audio with third=place David Comstock:

Audio with fifth-place Jeff Ward:

Audio with ninth-place Eric Brundies:

 

RESULTS: =RSR= Full Throttle Cup Series; Southern 200; Darlington Raceway; August 31, 2015

  1. Christopher Hurlow
  2. Dwayne Vincent
  3. David Comstock
  4. Anthony DeBaro
  5. Jeff Ward
  6. Dylan Jones
  7. Mitch Rollo
  8. Matt LaCross
  9. Eric Brundies
  10. Nicholas Kohan
  11. Chad Cole
  12. Sean Boundy
  13. Scott Stenzel
  14. Johnathon Caddell
  15. Scott Simley
  16. Joey Gattina
  17. Steve Gottschalk
  18. Brennan Mercer
  19. Rich Jette
  20. Greg Evans
  21. Thomas George
  22. Corbin Himstreet
  23. David Washington
  24. Doug Roth
  25. Dan Murray
  26. Nick Silver
  27. Thomas Lattmore
  28. Sean Casto
  29. Bryan Harvey
  30. Kevin Linden
  31. Daniel Eberhardt
  32. Ryan Vaughn
  33. Douglas Wyatt
  34. Paul Fugate
  35. Schyler Brown (DNS)

 

About the Writer

Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s. He is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

Email Jacob at: speed77radio@gmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @Speed77Radio or @JacobSeelman77

Comments 1

  1. I don’t know what Brundies was so upset about, Hurlow did nothing wrong in the final 25 laps, all he did was hold his line. My money is ON one of these Boomtown guys to win the championship. Great article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.