Mardy Lindley Wins Food City 150 Bristol, Tenn.-A little over a month ago, Mardy Lindley didn't even have a ride in the Hooters Pro Cup Series. But on Wednesday, August 23, every other Pro Cup driver wanted to be him. Lindley, who was hired to...
Mardy Lindley Wins Food City 150
Bristol, Tenn.-A little over a month ago, Mardy Lindley didn't even have a ride in the Hooters Pro Cup Series. But on Wednesday, August 23, every other Pro Cup driver wanted to be him.
Lindley, who was hired to drive the No. 22 BTS Tire & Wheel Distributors Ford on July 22, led the final 41 of the Food City 150 presented by Naturally Fresh en route to victory at Bristol Motor Speedway.
"I was just sitting on my couch when Ricky Benton [car owner] called," said Lindley. "The first two races we were just awful, but we've kept working on these cars. The car was really good tonight."
So was Lindley's fortune.
With 43 laps remaining, Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 29 McDonald's Ford, was locked in a fierce battle with Bobby Gill for the top spot. At the exit of Turn 2, Gill got into the back of Bayne and sent the 15-year-old rookie spinning into the inside wall. Gill missed Bayne's spinning car and continued on, but the veteran pilot received a rough-driving penalty and was forced to the rear of the field for the restart.
"I ain't blaming it on the kid," said Gill, driver of the No. 06 USG Sheetrock Brand Ford. "I just got a great run off of [Turn] 2 and got into him. I didn't mean to get him. He went up to the wall, and I tried to go under him and got into him. Everything just happens so fast here."
Bayne's car crunched the inside retaining wall, dropping him from the event on Lap 115.
"If he was that much faster than me, I was going to let him go," said Bayne, who led 20 laps. "You just don't race people that way with 30 laps to go. I was just riding around trying to save my stuff for the end, and he got into me."
With Bayne and Gill out of contention, Lindley moved to the point. But he had a formidable foe in his mirror of the final 40 laps.
Benny Gordon, the Northern Division champion, moved from his 12th-starting spot into second with less than 50 laps remaining. And when Lindley went high to put a lap on Billy Bigley Jr. with 25 laps to go, Gordon slid on the inside of the race leader and pulled even. Lindley fought back on the high side and finally cleared Gordon and Bigley to hold onto the top spot.
"Billy's a great racecar driver, but he should have let me go," said Lindley. "Luckily, I was able to get around him and get free, but he could have cost me the race."
It wasn't all clear sailing after Lindley pulled clear of Gordon. A late- race restart gave Gordon one more chance to try for the lead. On the final restart, Lindley beat Gordon to Turn 1 on Lap 145 and to the finish line by .381 seconds to take his second win of the season and his 11th career victory.
"It's a tremendous win for me, probably the biggest in my career," said Lindley. "I can't thank Ricky Benton enough for this opportunity. I was on the couch, now I'm back racing."
While Gordon wanted to win, his second-place finish breaks a streak of three DNFs.
"I could've ran into Mardy and bumped him out of the way, but I didn't want to do that," said Lindley. "The guys running right behind me were in a tight point battle, and I respect that."
Clay Rogers, driver of the No. 44 Automotive Development Group Ford, was one of the drivers Gordon was referring to.
Rogers finished right behind Gordon at the finish and pretty much clinched the Southern Division title.
"My crew chief asked me if I wanted to win the race or point race," said Rogers, who pitted late in the going to correct an ill-handling car. "We took the chance. We just used our stuff up getting back to the front. I'm glad it was 150-lap race, because it was a handful. I don't know if I could've gone 250 laps."
Shane Wallace, driver of the No. 38 Termidor/Aaron's Ford, led a race-high 83 laps, but his late-race pit strategy didn't work in his favor. Wallace restarted 16th with 62 laps remaining and only made it back to fourth at the finish.
Shane Huffman, driver of the No. 88 Champion Spark Plugs Chevrolet, rounded out the top five.