Ben Watkins Makes It 3-For-5 In Cash Money 100 At Fayetteville Motor Speedway

Ben Watkins Makes It 3-For-5 In Cash Money 100 At Fayetteville Motor Speedway

by October 14, 2019 0 comments

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Ben Watkins in a big race in the fall at Fayetteville Motor Speedway is proving to be money in the bank — for Ben Watkins.

On Saturday night, the Rock Hill, South Carolina, driver made his third trip to Victory Lane in the fifth annual running of the Cash Money 100. This time, his effort was rewarded with $15,000, which is $5,000 more than his Cash Money 100 titles wins in 2016 and ‘18. 

Watkins charged from his sixth starting position and into the lead in just two laps, and he led the rest of the way for a 2-second victory over Willie Milliken of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina.

“I don’t know what to say right now,” said Watkins. “It all goes back to each and every one that helps on this team. We’re a small team, but a dedicated one. 

“We’re all working guys; blue collar. We work 40, 50, 60 hours a week, then go work on the racecar, away from our families.”

Milliken was the two-day event’s fastest qualifier Friday night, then won his heat race to earn the pole position for Saturday’s feature. Watkins moved from sixth to second on the chaotic opening lap for the 27-car field, then shot past Milliken on the next trip around the 4/10ths-mile dirt oval.

“I knew we were moving a little harder than I wanted,” Watkins said, “but for some reason I felt like I needed to go right then, and then I could slow down.”

A large number of cautions for mechanical failures and multi-car collisions kept the first quarter of the event at a snail’s pace. The teams were given a scheduled 10-minute break at lap 25 and were allowed to make any changes on their cars other than to replace a tire. 

And even with more restarts in the next leg of the event, Watkins was able to keep Milliken and Fayetteville’s Daulton Wilson at bay every time. Once the field settled down for the last half of the show, Watkins left the field behind, and at one point led by more than six seconds — the length of a straightaway.

On the times when Milliken was able to narrow the gap, his car’s handling changed when it got behind Watkins’, and that aerodynamic effect blunted his advance.

“We thought we had a little something for him,” said Milliken, the 2017 winner of the event who collected $8,000 for his runner-up showing. “We were just trying to bide our time and race. … Ben’s a good racer, he did what he had to do. I overthought it and ran too slow at the beginning of the race. I should’ve picked my pace up and done what I needed to do and held him back there behind me. But that’s the way it goes. That’s racing.”

Watkins had a cushion of more than five seconds when the race entered the final 10 laps, but he backed out of the gas to ensure he wouldn’t wear out his crucial right-rear tire.

“I knew I wasn’t pressing,” he said, “and I needed to take care of my tire. I was watching my guy with the light sticks and seeing how hard I needed to run. We just executed it.

“We felt like we got the car good and balanced today, that contributed to it as well.”

Wilson earned $6,000 for third. Jason Fitzgerald of Middleburg, Florida, started 12th and finished fourth, and Shaun Harrell of Gray’s Creek rounded out the top five.

Source: Fayetteville Motor Speedway

Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com

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