GILL DEBUTS TAURUS - TAKES FOOD CITY 250 WIN USAR POINT LEAD AN ADDED BONUS By Gene Crane Coeburn, VA. - When Bobby Gill climbed aboard his new Ford Taurus prior to the start of the Food City 250 at Lonesome Pine Raceway, the plan was...
GILL DEBUTS TAURUS - TAKES FOOD CITY 250 WIN USAR POINT LEAD AN ADDED BONUS
By Gene Crane
Coeburn, VA. - When Bobby Gill climbed aboard his new Ford Taurus prior to the start of the Food City 250 at Lonesome Pine Raceway, the plan was to finish the race and protect his second place spot in the point standings. Following 250 laps of thunder in the mountains of southwestern Virginia, Gill was celebrating his second win of the year and had turned a 2 point deficit to then point leader Mario Gosselin into a 50 point lead for himself.
The first ever visit of the Hooters ProCup Series to Lonesome Pine Raceway was a mixed bag of emotions as drivers and crews scrambled to find gears and setups on the tight 3/8 mile oval. Experience seemed to be the key to a good run and few of the touring series drivers had ever seen the speedway. Two time track champion Jeff Agnew lived up to expectations as he toured the track at an average of 81.008 miles per hour to capture the Discount Auto Parts Pole Award. The defending ProCup Series champion would take command of the event at the wave of the green flag and paced the field for the first 160 laps, collecting the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader Award in the process and securing the lap leader bonus points.
Agnew's dominance of the first half of the race was a far from easy task as Jay Fogleman, Michael Ritch, Mario Gosselin and Derrick Kelly all kept the pressure on. The action got intense as the leaders set out weaving their way through traffic and at times running three wide on the tricky oval.
While the leaders were pressuring each other hard, other drivers were enjoying some much-needed success. Bobby Gill had hooked up with David Hyder, starting in his first Hooters ProCup event and the duo began their march to the front. Gill had no prior experience on the banks of Lonesome Pine whereas Hyder, at the controls of the Food City Chevrolet, had prior success at LPR winning several big money Late Model Stock events. From a 20th starting position Gill went to school on Hyder only to have the tire stagger open up on the rear of the Ford and bring his advancements to a stop just outside of the top five. A caution on lap 93 allowed Gill the chance to visit pit road for four tires and fuel. The stop proved to be timely as track position would move him to the front and into the lead 67 laps later.
Karen Schulz proved to her fellow competitors that the applause she received during driver introductions were well deserved as she wrestled her Food City Pontiac into third following the lap 93 caution. In spite of losing three laps when the right front tire went down on lap 98, the former LPR competitor and Most Popular Driver was jubilant about the run after missing the previous race at USA International Speedway with motor troubles.
David Hyder's run to the front was far from over as the High Point, North Carolina driver pressed his way into third at the halfway mark behind Agnew and Ritch. The path to the front would eventually take its toll on the 53 car as the right front tire blew going into turn one on lap 158. David was able to keep the car from making contact with the outside retaining wall but lost a lap to Agnew who was in desperate need of a caution to refuel his mount and get fresh tires.
As the leaders made their stops Gill and his PGT Industries Ford took over the point with Toby Porter, Mardy Lindley, and Mike Laughlin Jr. lining up behind. Agnew restarted from fifth but a slip up the banking in turn three provided Michael Ritch an opportunity to get by. Ritch and Agnew managed to advance to second and third but Gill had found the upper groove to be to his cars liking and could not be challenged setting up the battle for second.
Ritch, who also had no previous experience at LPR, could not run the bottom groove, which is the preferred line to most of the regular competitors. Agnew knew his car needed to be on the bottom but the lower groove was getting slick. Agnew challenged on numerous occasions but could not get the traction needed to get by Ritch at the finish.
At the checkers, Toby Porter held off Jay Fogleman for the fourth spot. Five previous track champions were in the starting field of 30 including Agnew, Fogleman, Charlie Ford, Johnny Rumley and 1998 champion Stacy Vicars.
The point battle gets shuffled again as the USAR Hooters ProCup Series heads to Hickory Motor Speedway for the Charlie Campbell Memorial - Hooters 250 Four Champions Series Race. The event will mark the first visit to the legendary North Carolina oval and the halfway point of the 1999 Championship season. With Gill in command of the points, Mario Gosselin drops to third due to motor problems and retiring with only 227 laps completed. Fogleman moves to second 50 points behind Gill. Mike Laughlin Jr. is fourth and Michael Ritch completes the top five.
Hooters ProCup Series
Lonesome Pine Raceway
Food City 250 presented by PEPSI
Fin Car Driver Hometown Sponsor, Make, & Model Run Led Comments
1 20 5 Bobby Gill Dalton, GA PGT Industries Ford Taurus 250 90 Running
2 3 23 Michael Ritch High Point, NC Jackaroo Sauce Chevrolet Monte Carlo 250 0 Running
3 1 73 Jeff Agnew Copper Hill, VA Twin City Motor Exchange Chevrolet Monte Carlo 250 160 Running
4 9 80 Toby Porter Greenville, SC Team Carolina Chevrolet Monte Carlo 250 0 Running
5 2 4 Jay Fogleman Durham, NC Kidde Safety Products Ford Thunderbird 250 0 Running
6 18 7 Mike Laughlin Jr. Simpsonville, SC Valenite Tool Ford Taurus 250 0 Running
7 8 14 Charlie Ford Charles City, VA Sun Graphics Chevrolet Monte Carlo 250 0 Running
8 7 25 Scott Wimmer Wausau, WI Jackaroo Gold Sauces Chevrolet Monte Carlo 250 0 Running
9 16 07 Tim Clayton Inman, SC Budweiser Chevrolet Monte Carlo 249 0 Running
10 6 05 Mardy Lindley Taylors, SC Aloe Lu Ya Pontiac Gran Prix 249 0 Running
11 15 53 David Hyder High Point, NC Food City Chevrolet Monte Carlo 249 0 Running
12 29 09 Jabe Jones Tocca, GA Coors Light Chevrolet Monte Carlo 249 0 Running
13 30 1 Don Satterfield Spartanburg, SC Hawk Saw Blades Chevrolet Monte Carlo 248 0 Running
14 19 47 Andy Thurman Concord, NC Naturally Fresh Spring Water Ford Thunderbird 248 0 Running
15 10 27 Johnny Rumley Winston-Salem, DK Transport Chevrolet Monte Carlo 248 0 Running
16 17 36 Trent Owens Harrisburg, NC Richard Petty Driving Experience Pontiac Gran Prix 248 0 Running
17 13 89 Karen Schulz Statesville, NC Food City; Best Western of Wise Pontiac Gran Prix 247 0 Running
18 21 30 Mart Nesbitt Asheville, NC State Fair Brand Corn Dogs Chevrolet Monte Carlo 247 0 Running
19 11 0 Steve Christian Sugar Hill, GA Lucas Oil Chevrolet Monte Carlo 246 0 Running
20 27 57 Joe Harrison Renick, WV Harrison Automotive Chevrolet Monte Carlo 244 0 Running
21 14 22 Bill Plemons Locust Grove, Hooters Chevrolet Monte Carlo 229 0 Running
22 5 10 Mario Gosselin Lake Wales, FL W. J. Plemons Investments Chevrolet Monte Carlo 227 0 Running
23 28 58 Jeremy Bowser Clearwater, FL Merrick Bank Ford Thunderbird 186 0 Mechanical
24 23 08 Ronnie Davidson Lenoir, NC C&T Classics Chevrolet Monte Carlo 170 0 Engine
25 12 16 Brian Sockwell Brown Summit, Irmo Grading Chevrolet Monte Carlo 161 0 Accident
26 26 52 Jason Bowser Clearwater, FL Eagle's Nest Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo 107 0 Overheating
27 25 12 Tim Edwards Arden, NC Edwards Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo 88 0 Engine
28 4 21 Derrick Kelley Auburndale, FL Discount Auto Parts Chevrolet Monte Carlo 67 0 Engine
29 22 37 Don Sprouse Greenville, SC Laughlin Racing Products Ford Taurus 67 0 Engine
30 24 95 Stacy Vicars St. Paul, VA Robert Sidney Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo 11 0 Engine