Bradberry eyes NASCAR

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Special to the Reporter

Charlie Bradberry’s 2003 season included his first-ever NASCAR championship (Southeast Series) and a handful of victories, including the prestigious Snowball Derby (Pensacola, Fla.) to close the season.

But now the Chelsea native will tackle the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

The 21-year-old will compete in a part-time schedule in 2004 with hopes of attracting a sponsor to his family-owned team.

&uot;We are going to run about 10 truck races this year with our own team,&uot; Bradberry said.

&uot;We’re not sure of all the ones we are going to do just yet, but we do know we are going to open the year at Mansfield Motorsports Park (in Mansfield, Ohio) and we know we are going to run at Charlotte (Lowe’s Motor Speedway, North Carolina). We are just going to see how things pan out from there.

&uot;After the year I had last year, it was the next logical step,&uot; Bradberry said. &uot;I’m at a point where I really need to get my name out there and I’ve done what I can in the Super Late Model ranks. The way NASCAR has structured their system, the Truck Series is where I am graduating to; I just wish we had more financial backing, a marketing partner or another car owner to help me advance my career even further. I know I can succeed if given the right opportunity. At the same time, I’m excited about getting all this going.&uot;

Bradberry also plans to continue running a select number of Super Late Model shows around the Southeastern United States, including several Southern All Star events. The first SAS run was last weekend at the Earlybird 100 at Birmingham Speedway.

&uot;When I’m not running the Truck or the Super Late Model, I’m going to be visiting a lot of the Nextel Cup and Busch Series races, just walking around the garage area and meeting a bunch of people. That is very important to me; I want to make some personal relationships and get to know as many people as I can. You never know when they may help you out down the road in this business.&uot;

Bradberry captured the 2003 Southeast Series title after scoring one win and eight top-10 finishes in 10 races.

He also defeated two-time ASA National Champion Gary St. Amant and a number of the top drivers in the country to win the 36th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., in December.

Bradberry competed in five Craftsman Truck Series races with his family-owned team.

His best finish came at Memphis, where he placed 16th. He qualified 11th at Richmond.

&uot;We’ve got a short track truck and a speedway truck right now,&uot; Bradberry said.

&uot;We’ve got a great crew chief in Philip Hamilton as well. We are really going to concentrate on the truck stuff this year.

&uot;We know we are going to run seven races because that is the cut off for rookie status. If we are doing pretty good, then we will run up to 10 and if we can get some sponsorship help, maybe even a few more.&uot;