USAR: Music City: Race report

Bobby Gill Wins H.G. Hill 250 Nashville, Tenn.-The names had changed, but the result was the same. Ten years ago, Darrell Waltrip, Jeremy Mayfield, Chad Chaffin, Harry Gant and Jeff Purvis couldn't catch Bobby Gill at Nashville. On Saturday...

Bobby Gill Wins H.G. Hill 250

Nashville, Tenn.-The names had changed, but the result was the same.

Ten years ago, Darrell Waltrip, Jeremy Mayfield, Chad Chaffin, Harry Gant and Jeff Purvis couldn't catch Bobby Gill at Nashville. On Saturday night at Music City Motorplex, formerly Fairgrounds Speedway, the newest generation of short-track stars suffered the same fate.

Gill made his way around David Pletcher on Lap 137 of the H.G. Hill 250 presented by Gupton Dodge and led until the checkered fell, beating Clay Rogers to the stripe by 2.919 seconds.

With the win, Gill joined Rogers as the only repeat winner in the Southern Division.

"A lot of other drivers were doing well on the bottom, but they were using up their stuff," said Gill. "I moved up higher on the track, and tried to go easy on our car."

Gill may have remembered the preferred line from the 1994 All-American 400 where he led 131 laps en route to victory.

After starting from the sixth spot, Gill, driver of the No. 5 Ford, took the lead away from Shane Huffman on Lap 22. Huffman, however, fought back on the outside and was able to fend Gill off until Lap 30. After shadowing Huffman, driver of the No. 84 Elm Hill Ford, for eight laps, Gill cleared the defending race winner and brought Jay Fogleman, driver of the No. 4 Lucas Oil Ford, with him, dropping Huffman to third.

Gill and Fogleman were able to distance themselves from the rest of the field over the next 20 laps until caution waved for the first time on Lap 52.

During the caution, Gill made an unscheduled stop on Lap 54.

"We had a little oil leak," said Gill, who led a race-high 141 laps. "We weren't able to fix it, but it didn't slow us down any."

That's for sure.

Gill restarted 18th after the stop and quickly began slicing toward the front of the field. By Lap 107, Gill had made his way into sixth.

But Gill wasn't the only driver making time from the back of the pack in the first half of the race.

After starting 14th, Brad Rogers, driver of the No. 29 TL Hyman Properties Ford, moved into eighth by Lap 42 and continued his march toward the front over the next 30 laps. Rogers moved past Mike Laughlin Jr., driver of the No. 7 Tucson Ford, to take over third on Lap 65 and joined Jason Sarvis, driver of the No. 36 Bill Miller Equipment Sales Chevy, and Fogleman in the battle for the lead.

The trio of leaders went nose-to-tail over next 45 laps until the red flag waved after a fuse malfunctioned and left the race track in the dark.

After light was restored at the historic half-mile track, most of the lead- lap cars elected to come to pit road for service, with the exception of David Pletcher, driver of the No. 51 RaceFansDating.com Ford, and Brad Rogers.

Sarvis was the first car off pit road after taking fuel only and lined up third behind Rogers and Pletcher.

Once the green waved again on Lap 111, Rogers checked out on the field by nearly two seconds. Rogers would hold the lead until making a four-tire stop on Lap 130.

Pletcher, still on his first set of tires, didn't follow Rogers down pit road and assumed the lead. But his time out front would be brief as Gill completed his run from the back of the pack on Lap 137, sweeping to the inside of Pletcher and retaking the lead.

Fogleman moved around Pletcher on Lap 142, but the Durham driver was unable to press Gill for the top spot.

"The car just got way to tight," said Fogleman. "We tried to loosen it up, but we never could get it to turn where it needed to."

Although the battle for the lead was nonexistent in the late stages of the race, there was a dogfight going on for third.

Billy Bigley Jr., driver of the No. 25 Peerless Woodworking Ford, made his traditional run from mid-pack into contention, and Clay Rogers was making his presence known as well. Both were running times quicker than Gill and Fogleman.

The two swapped the position three times from Lap 179 until Lap 188 when Bigley Jr. finally cleared Rogers, driver of the No. 44 ToFF Sprayed-On Bedliners Ford. But the time spent battling for third took its toll on Bigley's car and allowed Gill and Fogleman to pull out to a comfortable margin.

"I blistered the right front," said Bigley Jr., who picked up $500 for being the Hard Charger with his fourth-place finish. "I just had to ride it out."

As Bigley Jr. nursed his car towards the finish, Rogers made his way around and began to track down the leaders. Rogers caught and passed Fogleman for second on Lap 233. But time was running out, and Gill was checking out.

"On the first set of tires, our car was loose," said Rogers, who failed to lead a lap for the first time this season. "We came in early and then the car went dead tight, but I don't know if we had anything for Bobby anyway."

Clay didn't, but Brad thought he might.

After restarting 13th on Lap 132, the younger Rogers climbed into the top 10 in just nine laps. Passing cars as he caught them, the rookie driver moved into fifth with 25 laps remaining, but that would be as far as the charge would go.

"We had the best car at the end of the race," said Rogers, who picked up $1,000 for being the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race. "I'm happy about how we ran, but I'm still frustrated. We needed a caution at the end of the race."

The race was slowed five times for 30 laps of caution.

Caution Free

The lack of cautions hurt Brad Rogers' efforts, but at least he was able to pit under caution. Jason Sarvis and David Pletcher were not as fortune.

After holding out for a late-race caution, Sarvis and Pletcher were forced to make green-flag stops. After running in the top five for much of the night, Pletcher lost three laps in the pits and Sarvis lost four laps, finishing 14th and 15th, respectively.

A Week to Forget

Mike Laughlin Jr. had a lot happen to him in the span of seven days. Laughlin Jr. looked to be en route to the second win of his career at IRP, but he was swept into a crash that destroyed his primary car in the Northern Division race. Laughlin Jr., driver of the No. 7 Tucson Ford, thrashed all week to prepare for the H.G. Hill 250 and was the last driver to make it to the track on Saturday. But he would be the one of the firsts to leave. Laughlin Jr. lost power on Lap 65 and finished 27th.

Rookie Firsts

Matt Carter, driver of the No. 22 HeavyTruckDealers.com Ford, became the first rookie driver of the season to win the pole. Carter picked up $1,000 for being the Advance Auto Parts Pole Award winner in the H.G. Hill 250. Carter finished 10th and kept the lead in the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year standings.

With his fifth-place finish, Brad Rogers became the first rookie to win the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race award twice this year. Rogers added $1,000 to his winnings by being the top-finishing rookie.

Short Track Shark?

Jay Fogleman knows how to get around bullrings, but the larger tracks on the Hooters ProCup schedule have not been his forte in recent years. But after two top-five finishes on the larger tracks this season, Fogleman, who finished fifth at USA Int'l and third at Music City, may have to look for a new nickname.

"I've finally got somebody that can figure these cars out on the bigger tracks," Fogleman said in reference to Lucas Oil team members Joe Burke and Steve Bird.

Shotgun on the Field

After grabbing his third Hard Charger Award of the season, Billy Bigley Jr. isn't thinking about improving his qualifying times.

"We're not going to worry about qualifying," said Bigley Jr., who picked up his fourth top-10 finish in a row. "I don't care if we start last; we'll just keep going to the front."

Stats:

Advance Auto Parts Pole Award Winner - Matt Carter (19.908 sec.- 107.776 mph)
Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader - Brad Rogers
Hard Charger - Billy Bigley, Jr.
Miller Lite Rookie of the Race - Brad Rogers

Cautions - 5 for 30 Laps (1 Red Flag)
Time of Race - 3:04:46
Margin of Victory - 2.919 sec.
Lap Leaders - 1 Jay Fogleman (53); 2-21 Shane Huffman (27); 22-Bobby Gill (141); 23-29 Shane Huffman; 30-55 Bobby Gill; 56-107 Jay Fogleman; 108-129 Brad Rogers (22); 130-136 David Pletcher (7); 137-250 Bobby Gill.

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Jeremy Mayfield , Clay Rogers , Jeff Purvis , Billy Bigley , Chad Chaffin , Harry Gant , Shane Huffman