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Feese Wins ‘Hairy’ ARCA Marathon at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 2, 2004) - For someone making his first-ever start at a restrictor-plate track, ARCA Series rookie Blake Feese sure looked like a veteran on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Feese, a Hendrick Motorsports developmental driver, took his No. 94 CARQUEST Chevrolet to Victory Lane at the 2.66-mile high-banked tri-oval, leading 30 laps—including the final 22—en route to his second win of the 2004 ARCA season.

The 22-year-old held off fellow rookie Reed Sorenson and a potent five-car pack of would-be challengers in the closing stages of a race that saw eight cautions encompassing nearly half of the 113-lap event.

“It was pretty hairy out there,” Feese said.  “Reed Sorenson was strong.  He drove a smart race.  He raced me clean and had a couple of smart runs on me.

“Jimmie Johnson really helped me learn the draft when I was here testing.  Without his help, we wouldn’t have won the race because he taught me a lot of things I had never even thought of.  So I used those to keep the ‘77’ (Sorenson) behind us.”

Feese, who started from the outside pole position, gave much of the credit to his CARQUEST Racing team, which brought the same car Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Busch won with at the ARCA season-opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February.

“Gary DeHart is my crew chief; he had a ton of knowledge that really helped me before ‘Happy Hour’ (on Friday),” Feese said.  “I learned a lot.  Every time I’m around Gary he teaches me something.  To have him as my crew chief this weekend was exceptional, and (the victory) says a lot of the guys on the CARQUEST team.  They went to Daytona with Kyle earlier this year and they won, and then they came here with me and they won.  They are knowledgeable guys, they work hard and they had the desire to win.”

Boston Reid, in a second Hendrick Motorsports entry fielded through a developmental alliance with Bobby Gerhart Racing, started ninth and led for 13 laps before finishing 23rd because of an incident on Lap 96 involving the Nos. 25 and 77 cars.

Driving the No. 7 ditech.com Chevy, Reid certainly had one of the strongest machines Saturday.

“It’s too bad we weren’t able to finish the race,” said Reid, who has three top-10 finishes in four career ARCA starts.  “I was just trying to work myself behind Blake, hoping we could maybe pull away from the other cars.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.  We had a car that was capable of winning.”

The Food World 300 at Talladega marked the final event of the ARCA season, which included four wins by three different Hendrick Motorsports drivers—Feese (2), Busch and Kyle Krisiloff.

“The ARCA RE/MAX Series is a great series all around,” said Feese, who earned four top-10 finishes, including his two victories, in 2004 competition on the circuit.  “They do a wonderful job.

“Mr. Hendrick and Ricky (Hendrick) and everybody associated with Hendrick Motorsports gave me this opportunity that I honestly would have given my right arm for. So I am very appreciative to be a part of Hendrick Motorsports and very appreciative to be able to wear this suit.”

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