USAR: Championship Breakdown 2005-11-03

Championship Breakdown Longs, SC--With Benny Gordon winning the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway, the Dubois, Pa., driver put some distance on the rest of the field in the points race. While Gordon's 52-point lead is a ...

Championship Breakdown

Longs, SC--With Benny Gordon winning the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway, the Dubois, Pa., driver put some distance on the rest of the field in the points race. While Gordon's 52-point lead is a nice cushion with two races remaining, anything can happen. And Gordon knows that better than anyone.

Below is a listing of the top-20 drivers in points, a Myrtle Beach Review and a Motor Mile Preview.

1. Benny Gordon (No. 66n Predator Performance Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 1st
Championship Series Points: 583
Points ahead of 2nd: 52
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 1st
Season Avg. Finish: 9.29
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 8.3

Myrtle Beach Review
Besides a lackluster qualifying effort, Benny Gordon had a great night at the beach, leading a race-high 153 laps en route to his sixth win of the season and his fourth win at Myrtle Beach Speedway. With the win, Gordon, who had a 10-point lead over Shane Huffman going into Myrtle Beach Speedway, extended his points lead to 52 over Gary St. Amant.

Motor Mile Preview
Everyone knows that Gordon is the man at Myrtle Beach Speedway, but his record at Motor Mile is nearly as good. Gordon has two wins in three starts at MMS. Another win would break the points race wide open.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 1st (7/16/05 & 7/17/04)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 1.66 (3 starts)

2. Gary St. Amant (No. 11n JEGS.com Chevy)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 3rd
Championship Series Points: 531
Points behind 1st: 52
Points ahead of 3rd: 6
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 3rd
Season Avg. Finish: 6.67
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 5.3

Myrtle Beach Review
It's rare to see Gary St. Amant without a smile on his face, especially after notching a podium finish. While he still managed to show some teeth after finishing third at Myrtle Beach, it looked more like a grimace.

St. Amant mowed down Benny Gordon on Lap 190 to take the lead, but he lost the point on the ensuing pit stop and the use of most of his transmission. He finished third, but he could've won, hence the post-race scowl.

Motor Mile Preview
Last year, St. Amant's rookie-of-the-year bid stalled, along with his car, late in the going at Motor Mile Speedway. Overtaking Gordon is a mammoth task in itself, but he can't afford a repeat of last year, or his title hopes are over for sure.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 11th (7/16/05
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 19.33 (3 starts)

3. Jeff Agnew (No. 73n NGA Hooters Golf Tour Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 2nd
Championship Series Points: 525
Points behind 1st: 58
Points ahead of 4th: 17
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 6th
Season Avg. Finish: 9.69
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 7.3

Myrtle Beach Review
Agnew stalked Gordon over the final laps, but the Floyd, Va., driver could never pull alongside the No. 66n Predator Performance Ford. He did hold on to finish second, marking his best finish in 11 starts at Myrtle Beach.

Motor Mile Preview
Jeff Agnew likes to joke about a gorilla that waits at the entrance of Motor Mile Speedway and jumps on his back every time he enters his old stomping ground. But it's not really a laughing matter. After winning four track titles and countless races at New River Valley, now Motor Mile Speedway, Agnew has yet to win at MMS in nine Pro Cup starts.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 2nd (7/18/98)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 9.85 (9 starts)

4. Matt Carter (No. 03 LCT/Titan Industrial Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 6th
Championship Series Points: 508
Points behind 1st: 75
Points ahead of 5th: 7
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 4th
Season Avg. Finish: 9.69
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 5.6

Myrtle Beach Review
Matt Carter finished sixth at Myrtle Beach and lowered his Championship Series avg. finish to 5.6, tops among the field. Unfortunately for Carter, Gordon won and extended his points lead by 50 points over the 2004 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year.

Motor Mile Preview
Carter's fifth-place run at Motor Mile last season pushed him to the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year title. But he'll need a win this time around to have a shot at the overall title at Lakeland.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 5th (11/7/04)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 5.0 (1 start)

5. Shane Huffman (No. 81s Knight's Companies Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 12th
Championship Series Points: 501
Points behind 1st: 82
Points ahead of 6th: 14
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 2nd
Season Avg. Finish: 9.0
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 12.33

Myrtle Beach Review
After winning a series-high seven races during the regular season, Huffman has failed to post a top-10 finish in the Championship Series. His 12th-place finish at Myrtle Beach marked the fifth consecutive race that he's finished eighth or worse.

Motor Mile Preview
Huffman would need to win and have Gordon, St. Amant, Agnew and Carter finish 22nd or worse to leave Motor Mile with the points lead. The likelihood of all that happening is slim, but a win would at least give him a shot at the title in the season finale.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 5th (7/16/05)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 22.58 (5 starts)

6. Joe Gaita (No. 46n Speedco Truck Lubes Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 7th
Championship Series Points: 487
Points behind 1st: 96
Points ahead of 7th: 9
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 9th
Season Avg. Finish: 13.80
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 10.0

Myrtle Beach Review
Gaita continued his string of good runs at Myrtle Beach Speedway by coming home seventh. While he didn't pick up any points on Gordon, Gaita climbed three positions in points and kept his title hopes alive.

Motor Mile Preview
Gaita doesn't have but one Pro Cup start at Motor Mile and it came earlier this year. He finished 12th, but he's been on a hot streak since, picking up a win, three top-five and four top-10 finishes in the last seven races.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 12th (7/16/05)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 23.5 (2 starts)

7. Johnny Rumley (No. 8n Lucas Oil Chevy)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 13th
Championship Series Points: 478
Points behind 1st: 105
Points ahead of 8th: 0
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 5th
Season Avg. Finish: 12.27
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 8.33

Myrtle Beach Review
Like many top drivers at Myrtle Beach, Rumley lost a lap when the first 89 laps went caution-free. Rumley nearly made up his lap, but Gordon held him at bay. Later, he spun and finished 13th.

Motor Mile Preview
Rumley knows he needs a win to stay in the title hunt, and Motor Mile may just be the place he gets one. He's a fan favorite and always runs well there. Plus, the No. 8n Lucas Oil Chevy has been stout in the last five races, posting four top-10 finishes and averaging a 7.4 finish.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 4th (7/17/04)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 14.16 (6 starts)

8. Jody Lavender (No. 84s Heritage Bank Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 10th
Championship Series Points: 478
Points behind 1st: 105
Points ahead of 9th: 12
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 8th
Season Avg. Finish: 12.00
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 10.00

Myrtle Beach Review
For awhile, Lavender looked like he had a car capable of winning at Myrtle Beach. He rocketed up the leader board for the first half of the race, but the handle went away on his car late, dropping him to 10th.

Motor Mile Preview
To complete his story-book season, Lavender would likely need to win at Motor Mile and Lakeland to win the title. But with the way he's performed this season, that's not too farfetched a scenario.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 12th (11/7/04)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 18.5 (2 starts)

9. Woody Howard (No. 55n Dean Motorsports Chevy)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 15th
Championship Series Points: 466
Points behind 1st: 117
Points ahead of 10th: 8
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 7th
Season Avg. Finish: 9.20
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 12.60

Myrtle Beach Review
Howard admittedly "missed" the setup at Myrtle Beach. He qualified a season-worst 27th and finished one-lap down in 15th place. It may have ended his title hopes, but he still hangs on to the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year point lead.

Motor Mile Preview
If there's one place that should help Howard break out of his post-season slump, it's definitely Motor Mile. Howard has tons of experience in Late Models at the high-banked bullring. He finished 21st earlier this year at MMS, but he had a car that could run with anyone before being involved in a multi-car crash.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 21st
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 21.0 (1 start)

10. Bobby Gill (No. 06s USG Sheetrock Brand Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 4th
Championship Series Points: 458
Points behind 1st: 125
Points ahead of 11th: 21
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 16th
Season Avg. Finish: 11.13
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 14.33

Myrtle Beach Review
Gill gambled on pit strategy at Myrtle Beach and lost. On the first stop, Gill's team only took two tires. And when the race ran green for 83 laps, Gill lost a lap. He took four tires on Lap 194, got his lap back and charged to fourth at the finish. With more cautions, Gill may have had the winning car and strategy.

Motor Mile Preview
Gill isn't out of the point race, but it won't take much for him to drop from contention. He needs to lead some laps and win to stay within earshot of the leaders at Lakeland.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 1st (7/22/00, 7/21/01 & 7/20/02)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 3.0 (5 starts)

11. Clay Rogers (No. 44s Johnny's Suzuki/Baird Transport Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 11th
Championship Series Points: 437
Points behind 1st: 146
Points ahead of 12th: 8
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 15th
Season Avg. Finish: 11.53
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 19.00

Myrtle Beach Review
Clay Rogers had the best four-new-tires setup in the field, but it didn't work very well on three new tires. After leading 75 laps in the first half of the event, Rogers faded for the rest of the night, eventually losing a lap and finishing 11th.

Motor Mile Preview
Rogers dominated at Motor Mile a year ago, leading the most laps and winning the race. He'll need to do the same to stay in contention this year. And he'll likely need to win at Lakeland as well. But he's done that before too.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 1st (11/7/04)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 5.00 (3 starts)

12. Brad Rogers (No. 22s Black's Tire Service Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 5th
Championship Series Points: 429
Points behind 1st: 154
Points ahead of 13th: 5
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 19th
Season Avg. Finish: 18.40
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 11.33

Myrtle Beach Review
Rogers is making the most of the Championship Series and his opportunity with Ricky Benton Racing. The 2004 Southern Division Rookie of the Year finished fifth at Myrtle Beach Speedway after starting 30th.

Rogers finished the regular season 26th in points, but he's vaulted into 12th in the standings with two top-five finishes in three Championship Series events. Had he not spun in Chase Pistone's oil while leading at Jennerstown, Rogers would have a realistic shot at the title.

Motor Mile Preview
Rogers should be good at Motor Mile. Why? Because he's been good everywhere since joining Ricky Benton Racing.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 16th (11/7/04)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 16.00 (1 start)

13. Jay Fogleman (No. 4s Lucas Oil Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 32nd
Championship Series Points: 424
Points behind 1st: 159
Points ahead of 14th: 4
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 10th
Season Avg. Finish: 10.39
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 17.33

Myrtle Beach Review
Ouch! Not too much good can be said about Fogleman's run at Myrtle Beach. He qualified 25th, dropped from the race on Lap 146 and finished 32nd. In doing so, Fogleman dropped three spots in points and lost 102 points to Gordon.

Motor Mile Preview
Fogleman is another Pro Cup driver that used to call Motor Mile home, but it's been several years since he's had much success there. His last win at MMS came when Johnny Rumley and Jeff Agnew tangled for the lead, allowing Fogleman to slide past for the win in 2003. All the participants will be in the field on Saturday, and Fogleman will be hoping for the same outcome.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 1st (7/19/03 & 7/18/98)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 7.47 (8 starts)

14. Mart Nesbitt (No. 88n ConstructionJobs.com Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 9th
Championship Series Points: 420
Points behind 1st: 163
Points ahead of 15th: 2
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 17th
Season Avg. Finish: 15.63
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 16.00

Myrtle Beach Review
The most amazing thing about Nesbitt's run at Myrtle Beach was how he was able to keep from going a lap down in the first run after starting 32nd. Clay Rogers lapped up to 15th place during the first run, but Nesbitt was able to stay in front of the leader. He didn't charge much further during the night, but he managed to come home ninth and jumped three positions in points.

Motor Mile Preview
Nesbitt needs a breakout run at Motor Mile to setup a possible top-five finish in points. If he can match his best finish (2nd) at Motor Mile, he'll be in good shape come Lakeland.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 2nd (7/21/01)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 13.33 (6 starts)

15. Mark McFarland (No. 32s WINFUEL Chevy)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 24th
Championship Series Points: 418
Points behind 1st: 165
Points ahead of 16th: 2
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 13th
Season Avg. Finish: 10.72
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 22.00

Myrtle Beach Review
(INSERT ANY HARD LUCK SAYING HERE!) While Brad Rogers is showing the beauty of the Championship Series, Mark McFarland has experienced the opposite. Once the hottest driver in the Hooters Pro Cup Series, McFarland has experience problems in all three Championship Series events and tumbled 13 positions in points. At Myrtle Beach, a compressed shock was the culprit in his 24th-place finish.

Motor Mile Preview
McFarland was strong earlier this year, finishing second to Benny Gordon. The overall title may be a long shot for McFarland, but he'd love to leave the Hooters Pro Cup Series with a few more wins. And he could do it.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 2nd (7/16/05)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 2.0 (1 start)

16. Mardy Lindley (No. 16n Hooters Air Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 27th
Championship Series Points: 416
Points behind 1st: 167
Points ahead of 17th: 1
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 12th
Season Avg. Finish: 7.67
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 19.33

Myrtle Beach Review
Lindley continued his post-season slide at Myrtle Beach, qualifying 27th and finishing 24th. Making matters worse, Lindley parted ways with his team after the event.

Motor Mile Preview
Lindley's future is uncertain at the moment. If he shows up with a top-notch team, Lindley could be a factor at MMS. But he may not even be there.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 5th (7/17/04)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 14.83 (6 starts)

17. Michael Ritch (No. 28s Jackaroo Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 35th
Championship Series Points: 415
Points behind 1st: 168
Points ahead of 18th: 2
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 11th
Season Avg. Finish: 19.35
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 22.00

Myrtle Beach Review
Racing can be cruel at times. After winning at Mansfield, Ritch finished last at Myrtle Beach Speedway, killing any chance he had of winning the championship and severely hampering his bid to finish in the top 10 in points.

Motor Mile Preview
Ritch finished second at Motor Mile in last season's Championship Series event. If he can do it again, Ritch could climb back inside the top 10 at the end of the season.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 2nd (11/7/04)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 14.85 (5 starts)

18. Michael Faulk (No. 53s LiftOff Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 28th
Championship Series Points: 413
Points behind 1st: 170
Points ahead of 19th: 3
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 14th
Season Avg. Finish: 15.31
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 17.00

Myrtle Beach Review
Faulk shouldn't be sitting 18th in points right now. He's been a contender in all the Championship Series events, including Myrtle Beach. He was running near the front for much of the night before being sidelined in an accident on Lap 224, dropping him to 28th at the finish.

Motor Mile Preview
Faulk is probably out of title contention, but he's still got a shot at winning the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year and the $40,000 check that goes along with it. He's only 53 points behind Woody Howard. He'll likely need to run in the top five at Motor Mile, because Howard will be strong there as well.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: (First Start at Track)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: (First Start at Track)

19. Joey Logano (No. 51n Joe Gibbs Performance Racing Oil Ford)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 8th
Championship Series Points: 410
Points behind 1st: 173
Points ahead of 20th: 22
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 20th
Season Avg. Finish: 13.17
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 15.00

Myrtle Beach Review
Most everyone at Myrtle Beach gasped when Logano elected to pit when he was a lap down rather than getting a free pass to the tail of the field. Well, the kid, as usual, knew what he was doing. With fresh rubber, Logano swept by Gordon to get back in the lead lap and went on to finish eighth.

Motor Mile Preview
Logano is going to need two more top-five finishes to have a reasonable shot at the ROTY title. That shouldn't be that hard, though. He's finished in the top five in six of his 12 Pro Cup starts.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 3rd (7/16/05)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 3.0 (1 start)

20. D.J. Kennington (No. 17n SM Freight Pontiac)
Finish at Myrtle Beach: 18th
Championship Series Points: 388
Points behind 1st: 195
Points ahead of 21st: 5
Point standing before Myrtle Beach: 18th
Season Avg. Finish: 12.10
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 12.66

Myrtle Beach Review
Kennington didn't have the best showing at Myrtle Beach Speedway, but it could have been worse. The CASCAR veteran started 22nd and finished 18th.

Motor Mile Preview
Supposedly, Kennington is going to take over for Mardy Lindley this weekend. If the car runs like it did during the regular season for Lindley, it's a good move for Kennington. If it's the Championship Series model, it's not a good move, considering Kennington averaged a 12.66 finish in the first three races while Lindley posted a 19.33-avg. finish.

Best Finish at Motor Mile: 18th (11/7/04)
Avg. Finish at Motor Mile: 18.0 (1 start)

-usar-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , D.J. Kennington , Jody Lavender , Mark McFarland , Michael Faulk , Shane Huffman , Joey Logano , Johnny R , Jeff Agnew