Morgan Tackles First Career Pro Cup Victory; Championship Within Reach Newton, Iowa (September 19, 2009) -- J.P. Morgan has been a contender to win in the USARacing Pro Cup Series all season long and many in the garage knew it was just a...
Morgan Tackles First Career Pro Cup Victory; Championship Within Reach
Newton, Iowa (September 19, 2009) -- J.P. Morgan has been a contender to win in the USARacing Pro Cup Series all season long and many in the garage knew it was just a matter of time. His time finally came on Saturday after the Pork 200 presented by Cookies Sauces and Seasonings at Iowa Speedway where he claimed his first career victory in 45 Series starts.
"To win at such an awesome place as Iowa is just incredible," exclaimed Morgan. "They promote it like no other and the fans are just unbelievable. They truly define the word 'fan'. Our whole team and I really want to thank everybody for their out pouring of congratulations since the win. It's really been amazing. It's just another example of how great the people of this series are. We had teams, drivers and officials congratulating us all night long, and that was just so special for us."
Morgan's win did not come as easy as he made it look out on the track. As the team was setting the car up for their qualifying run, a wire running to the alternator had come lose, costing the car valuable speed during qualifying. This was a little disappointing to the team since they had been running the quickest lap times every single practice.
"We ran really fast times on Saturday right out of the box. We only made some minor wedge and track bar changes, basically just some fine tuning. In the whole process of getting ready for qualifying, somehow the alternator wire was disconnected," explained Morgan. "We went out to qualify and it just didn't want to run, it was running on low voltage. We qualified seventh, which would have been acceptable any other time, but really not what we were expecting considering the speed we had in practice."
The team lined up seventh but had to come down pit road during the parade laps to reconnect the alternator wire, which resulted in the No. 23 starting from the rear of the field. Morgan and the team shook it off and got to work. He quickly began picking his way up through the field and the Phil Morgan Pottery J & R Racing crew earned valuable track position during the pit stops.
"As the track started getting more of the BFGoodrich rubber on it, our car came back just like it was, if not better, than in practice. From that point on it was just a matter of picking and choosing our times to pass," commented Morgan. "The guys had the best pit stops I think they have ever had and everybody was on their game."
Morgan had worked his way up to the front and took the lead for the first time shortly after the halfway point. There were strong battles going on in the front between several of the Championship contenders. The real battle in the night though was between Morgan and Drew Herring in the last quarter of the race. The two drivers dueled for several laps before Morgan took the top-spot and motored on to the win.
"Drew was out front for the majority of the race," said Morgan, "but I knew how good the car was and stuck to our plan...keep the nose clean, keep the leader in sight, and only use it when you need it. On long runs it was absolutely great, so we proceeded to run the last 40-laps door to door with Drew. I knew he was going to be tough. He was doing everything he could to stay in the lead, and I was doing everything I could to take it away. Finally with about 15 to go, I knew I needed to either make the move or settle for second. I got a really good run down into turn-one and our timing was perfect. My car seemed to stick just a touch better than his and when I heard the word 'clear', I was so relieved. From that point on we just took off and drove away.
"As far as battles go on the racetrack, I'm sure the fans thought it was awesome. I know from the seat I was in and the view I had it was one of the best battles I've ever had in racing. So my hat's off to Drew for doing such a great job and racing us clean."
Now that Morgan has finally got the "monkey" off his back and his first win, his next big goal is the 2009 Pro Cup Championship. After Iowa, he sits just 10 points back from the point leader Drew Herring. The whole J & R Racing team feels strongly about the last two races at Rockingham Speedway (NC) and South Boston Speedway (VA).
"I knew it was going to take a really good finish at Iowa to keep us in the chase and to have a shot at winning the championship. To win in the fashion we did has really tightened up the point battle tremendously," said Morgan. "It's not going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination. Clay had a bad night, Drew had a good night; those are the two guys that we are battling right now. We are at that point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and whoever wins the race coming up in Rockingham will be in the best position going into South Boston. I really hope it's us, I believe it can be us."
Morgan has two weeks off before traveling to Rockingham Speedway for the Aaron's 150 resented by Black's Tire and Auto on Oct. 10. The season concludes Oct. 31 at South Boston Speedway when the series champion will be crowned after the Strutmasters 250.