Racer gives Shore charity a fast ride at Dover
Cordova driver made impressive push before raceending blowout
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.”
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.