Chelsea’s Bradberry rubs fenders with NASCAR star

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Before Friday’s Nascar Craftsman Truck Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Chelsea native Charlie Bradberry joked with a Speed Network pit reporter, saying he could only go up from his 31st starting spot.

Bradberry was right.

After charging his way into the top five, Bradberry was clipped in the left rear by Nextel Cup driver Kevin Harvick after a restart.

&uot;I just got a chance to watch the replay and it just looks like one of these racing deals,&uot; Bradberry said. &uot;I wasn’t good on restarts all day, but I got up to speed real good and Harvick got on my inside and got into my left rear.&uot;

The spin brought out another caution and sent Bradberry to the back of the field.

Bradberry’s spin put him a lap down, ending his hopes of his first Truck Series victory.

Bradberry’s 29th place finish was his second Truck Series finish of the year and his seventh in the past two seasons.

After winning the 2003 NASCAR Southeast Series Championship, Bradberry has focused his attention on the Truck Series and hopes to run his unsponsored, family-owned truck in several more races in 2004.

&uot;Running the (Southeast) Series,&uot; Bradberry said, &uot;has helped me a lot, helped me adapt to a lot of different tracks.&uot;

Bradberry said he plans on running races at Kentucky, Richmond and Texas, but his future will all depend on getting a sponsor.

&uot;We’re just going to play it by ear,&uot; Bradberry said.

While the &uot;Alabama Gang&uot; has thinned over the past 15 years, Bradberry hopes to revitalize the state’s presence in NASCAR with help from former Nextel Cup driver and Alabama native Stanley Smith, along with help from his older brother and Nascar driver Gary Bradberry.

&uot;(Gary) has helped me tremendously and he is working a lot in the shop,&uot; Bradberry said.

Smith, who is also running some short track, late-model races, is helping Bradberry with the trucks and helping him gain some exposure.

&uot;We just wanted more TV exposure and to move up and we felt that the Truck Series was the best move for us,&uot; Bradberry said.

&uot;Basically, that is why we are doing this, to get my name out there.&uot;

Also helping Bradberry is his new crew chief and long-time friend, Philip Hamilton, who has worked in the Truck Series with Bradberry’s brother and David Starr.

&uot;I’ve been around (Hamilton) a lot since I was a kid,&uot; Bradberry said.

&uot;He’s a real close friend and really knowledgeable with the trucks.&uot;

While Bradberry knows gaining a sponsor, gaining experience and being able to test more will help him be more competitive, he is optimistic about the future.

&uot;We are excited, we’ve made every race we’ve been to and that’s a great accomplishment in itself,&uot; Bradberry.

When Bradberry is not racing, he has been spending time in the Busch and Nextel Cup garages trying to make the one contact that could lend him his big break.

&uot;We feel that if we can get with the right people, we are going to make things happen,&uot; Bradberry said