HICKORY, N.C. -- The longest winless drought on NASCAR's Busch Grand National circuit ended Saturday when Ed Berrier won the Galaxy Foods 300.
Berrier led 185 of the 300 laps, including the final 106 circuits around the .363-mile Hickory Motor Speedway for the first victory of a career that began 208 races ago in 1984.
"That was laying on my mind pretty heavy -- 200-some races," Berrier said. "A lot of people would have quit by now, I guess. But it's something that I love to do. I just never gave up and things turned around. Hopefully the next one won't take that long."
The race's 10th and final caution flag bunched the field for a 12-lap sprint to the finish, with Berrier directly in front of Matt Kenseth. But Kenseth had only fourth gear over the final one-third of the race, and he was unable to go fast enough to keep pace with the leaders on the restart.
Berrier got a good jump and steadily pulled away to wind up about 12 car-lengths in front of Hermie Sadler at the checkered flag.
"This Ford was just great all day," said Berrier, who won $33,555. "To be able to win at any of these tracks is tough because the competition is so good. But it takes a lot off my mind to be able to get that first win."
Tim Fedewa was third, and Mike Dillon and Kenseth rounded out the top five. All were in Chevrolets.
Series points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. was one of several drivers caught up in a wreck on lap 59 when Matt Hutter spun coming out of the second turn.
Earnhardt lost a lap to make repairs to his car, but he charged through the field, got back on the lead lap and wound up eighth. He came in with a 25-point lead in the 1998 standings and left with a 31-point margin over Kenseth.
Another multicar wreck, this one on lap 94, damaged the car of pole sitter Robert Pressley. He spent the rest of the day struggling to stay up with the leaders and finished sixth.
The worst wreck occurred on lap 234, when defending series champion Randy LaJoie spun out coming down the front stretch and Kevin Grubb slammed into the wall while trying to avoid him. Grubb's car burst into flames briefly and lost its brakes, sending him careening down pit road and into the side of a large tool box in Mark Green's pit stall.
Todd Wilkerson, a crew member who jumped off the top of the box as Grubb approached, was diagnosed with a broken left wrist.
"I was pushing the brake pedal and it was going all the way to the floor," said Grubb, who was uninjured. "I had no control of the car. I thought I was going to kill some people in the pits."