Racer gives Shore char­ity a fast ride at Dover

Cor­dova driver made im­pres­sive push be­fore raceend­ing blowout

Dorchester Star - - Sports - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

DOVER — You would not know about the fin­ish judg­ing from the smiles, hand­shakes and hugs in the garage.

A look at the dam­aged right side of the car only gave the end­ing for Fri­day’s thrilling race in the K&N Pro Se­ries Dover 125 at Dover In­ter­na­tional Speedway.

Cor­dova racer Tyler Hughes, 19, wheel­ing the G2 Rac­ing Pink Cares of the Eastern Shore of Mary­land 08 Ford in his sec­ond ca­reer start at Dover, drove from 15th to 7th place with 35 laps to go, and was in strik­ing dis­tance of a top-5 fin­ish when the Mon­ster Mile struck back with five laps re­main­ing.

Hughes’ 08 Ford blew a right-front tire and crashed hard into the SAFER Bar­rier in turn 2, end­ing his race and drop­ping him to 17th.

His G2 Rac­ing Ford sported a pink and white paint scheme for local char­ity Pink Cares of the Eastern Shore of Mary­land, which raises money for cancer pa­tients. The Pink Cares logo got on the hood af­ter local busi­nesses do­nated the spon­sor­ship space to the char­ity, started by Brenda Walls of Ridgely.

“It is awe­some to have a great run for Miss Brenda and Pink Cares,” Hughes said. “Hope­fully she gets some good TV time out of it.

“It means a lot hav­ing her here in the pits,” he added. “She is a great per­son and has a great cause, help­ing peo­ple bat­tle cancer with her Pink Cares of the Eastern Shore of Mary­land char­ity.”

The bad luck with five laps to go didn’t stop the joy of Hughes’ drive into the top 10 on Dover’s high banks. As his car got packed in a small trailer amidst the big­money haulers in the K&N Pro Se­ries garage, fam­ily, friends and crew shared their smiles and laughs while talk­ing about his bat­tle with car af­ter car dur­ing his march to­ward the front.

“I’m very happy we ran this way and were able to march into the top 10,” Hughes said. “The crew did an out­stand­ing job. I can’t thank them enough for their sup­port and to my car owner, Paul Green.

“It just proves how hard we worked,” he added. “We are kind of like the lit­tleengine-that-could out here be­cause we are just a small team com­pet­ing against the big-money teams out here.”

The odds stacked up against Hughes from the be­gin­ning with weather lim­it­ing prac­tice to 20 min­utes and rain can­cel­ing qual­i­fy­ing, rel­e­gat­ing Hughes to a 23rd start­ing po­si­tion based on own­ers’ points.

From the green flag, Hughes be­gan mak­ing moves to the front, work­ing up to 18th in the first 10 laps, be­fore hold­ing steady un­til the first cau­tion on lap 32.

Bat­tling a tight con­di­tion, Hughes pit­ted for an ad­just­ment.

“The car was really tight in the be­gin­ning of the run,” he said. “We got it turn­ing good in the cen­ter but couldn’t get the drive off that I needed.”

By the half­time break on lap 62, Hughes moved to 15th, but his charged stalled af­ter the break for the next 20 laps.

Dur­ing a cau­tion on lap 87, Hughes pit­ted for an­other

ad­just­ment, and the change gave him the balance he was look­ing for.

“We made one more ad­just­ment, and the car came to life,” he said. “It just had so much for­ward drive off the cor­ner. We marched from 14th or 15th up to sev­enth.”

From lap 90 to lap 103, Hughes gained three spots and was clos­ing on the bat­tle for the top 10 when the cau­tion blew.

On the restart, Hughes pow­ered by two more cars on the out­side to get to 10th. Us­ing the high line, he got a run on Chase Dowl­ing and pulled along­side ex­it­ing turn two. The driv­ers touched down the backstretch, then Hughes got the launch off turn four to get to eighth.

Hughes con­tin­ued his march into sev­enth with an in­side pass of Chad Finchum com­ing off turn four with eight laps to go.

“We were work­ing for an­other cou­ple of po­si­tions and we were right on the back bumper of the next car when the right-front blew,” Hughes said. “The same thing hap­pened last year with five laps to go when we were mak­ing a pass for 10th.

“It is frus­trat­ing that two years in a row we blow a right-front tire and slam the wall with a few laps to go,” he added. “But other than that, I can’t be down on my­self, nor my team be­cause we did have a great run. I love com­ing to Dover and hav­ing great runs. I can’t wait to get one where we fin­ish.

“It means a lot be­ing com­pet­i­tive against the big­ger teams here,” he said. “When you look around here, you see noth­ing but big, mul­ticar haulers, and we are com­ing in a small, sin­gle­car trailer. We are run­ning with these guys in­side the top 10, com­pet­ing for top 5s. It shows how good we are with what lit­tle we have. We are go­ing to come back and be even bet­ter. We have an awe­some team and awe­some crew and an awe­some car.

“I can’t thank my crew and spon­sors enough — Pink Cares, Row 6, G2 Rac­ing, my car owner Paul Green for giv­ing me the op­por­tu­nity to run here and in the late model se­ries, Robert Yates Rac­ing en­gines, just ev­ery­one who helps out that gets us to the race track each and ev­ery week and lets me com­pete up front.”

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Cor­dova racer Tyler Hughes (08) makes a pass on the out­side for eighth po­si­tion dur­ing Fri­day’s K&N Pro Se­ries Dover 125 at Dover In­ter­na­tional Speedway.

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