Fultz makes it four at Kentucky

Smith's late spinout leaves
Victory Lane to Cincinnati driver

From the Kentucky Speedway

(June 17, 2005) – Cincinnati native Jeff Fultz overcame the mechanical troubles his No. 54 Chevrolet encountered during qualifying and brought home his fourth career win June 18 at the Kentucky Speedway in “The Insight Communications 150” in front of 15,260 fans.

Jeff Fultz in winners circle

Photo by Don Ward

Jeff Fultz poses in winner's circle
after winning for the fourth time
at the Kentucky Speedway.

Fultz was forced to make engine repairs following qualifying and started at the rear of the field. He took his first lead on Lap 72 and led the closing 28 laps but had to hold off a late challenge by J.R. Norris. Fultz motored away from the second-place driver on a caution restart with five laps remaining and won by .300 of a second.
The performance gives Fultz the all-time lead in series wins with 24 and ties him with ARCA RE/MAX Series driver Frank Kimmel for the all-time lead in Kentucky Speedway wins. Fultz owns a total of six top-five finishes through nine career Kentucky starts.
“It’s always a pleasure to come back to Kentucky Speedway,” Fultz said. “I grew up right up the road from here but moved away when they were building this place. It’s fortunate that we have NASCAR to bring us here to put on a show before the Busch Series cars. It’s pretty big for us. To win four of these things and always be a top contender in front of a lot of the people I grew up with is pretty special to me.”
His day started well when he was fourth fastest during the series’ morning practice session. His luck changed during qualifying when a cracked spark plug caused his engine to lose a cylinder.
Fultz waved off his first of two qualifying attempts, made repairs on pit road and salvaged the 13th spot on the grid with his second attempt. He started 23rd after his post-qualifying repairs.
“We got the car all tuned up and changed plugs,” Fultz said. “Something happened and we had a cracked spark plug, so we dropped a cylinder. We had to work on the motor, so we had to drop to the tail (of the field).”
Fultz steadily guided his No. 54 through past competitors while pole sitter Stanley Smith and Norris exchanged the lead during the first 38 laps.
When the race restarted following a caution on Lap 41, Fultz had his No. 54 in second place behind Smith. Despite running hot due to paper on the grill of the car, Fultz steadily stalked leader through the next segment of the race and took his first lead with 28 laps to go when he passed Smith coming out of Turn 2.
“We had a little part of the race where we got real hot and the gauges were buried. I thought we were going to be out of the race,” Fultz said. “We finally caught a caution (on Lap 66), which was very fortunate. I got up behind him (Smith) and got the paper off the grill.
“I let the car cool back down and went after him off of Turn 2. We were fortunate to get a good run off the turn, pull a draft and get by him. It was our lucky night after what happened in qualifying.”
He held the lead with 10 laps remaining and was holding off challenges from Norris when caution flew on Lap 92 as the No. 66 Wynn’s Fluid Chevrolet of Eddie Stiver blew its engine in the frontstretch.
Fultz motored away from Norris on the Lap 96 restart and took the win. Erik Darnell was third, Kevin Prince was fourth and Allen Karnes completed the top five.
“They say don’t slow down on the restart, but we had to slow down to almost a crawl,” Norris said. “He (Fultz) probably started in first gear and I started in second, so he got me there and I couldn’t catch up after that.
“It was good run for us, but I’m kind of upset because we had such a super car. It was the best car I’ve had here. Unfortunately, he (Fultz) had a better one. I was just running my tail off the whole night.”
Fultz’s performance also ruined the day for Smith, who led the morning practice session. His day ended on Lap 80 when he attempted to take the lead from Fultz in the high groove off Turn 4. Smith lost control of his car and it made contact the new SAFER Barrier System.
“I was loose the whole time when somebody was behind me,” Smith said. “I got loose around the No. 5 and just lost it.”

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