LAKELAND, FL -- It was bound to happen. After 36 previous attempts to gain a win in the Hooters ProCup Series, Andy Thurman brought his Naturally Fresh Mountain Spring Water Ford Taurus to victory lane in the season-opening Hooters 250 presented...
LAKELAND, FL -- It was bound to happen. After 36 previous attempts to gain a win in the Hooters ProCup Series, Andy Thurman brought his Naturally Fresh Mountain Spring Water Ford Taurus to victory lane in the season-opening Hooters 250 presented by Johnsonville Bratwurst Saturday night at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Florida.
"What a great feeling," added Thurman in victory lane. "This entire team has worked so hard to get us here and I want to thank everyone of them."
Thurman, who started the race fourth, was able to take the lead with 10 laps remaining in the race when Bill Plemons, Jr. spun in turn one. Thurman held off Miller Lite Rookie of the Year candidate Jon Wood to collect the win. Stacy Puryear, Charlie Ford and Mario Gosselin completed the top five.
Ford's third-place finish was the best finish of his career in Hooters ProCup competition and first top-five finish since 1997.
David Pletcher followed in sixth with Jay Fogleman, Jeff Agnew, John Kinder and Dexter Canipe completing the top ten.
Wood, Puryear, Pletcher and Canipe were the only rookie candidates to finish in the top ten.
"This is a great series," added an ecstatic Wood. "The cars are fast, the drivers are all competitive and this was the most fun I have ever had at a race. We are obviously happy with a second-place finish."
Puryear won the Discount Auto Parts Pole Award for posting a qualifying time of 21.852 sec. (116.886 mph) to win the pole. Puryear, a veteran driver from Virginia almost didn't make it to Florida for his first career start.
"We are very happy with this finish," said Puryear. "I was in the hospital until 10 a.m. yesterday morning with flu-like symptoms and we were just hoping to make the race and finish it, this is great."
The race was slowed 16 times for caution for a total of 107 laps which cost several competitors opportunities for the win.
Marty Ward was leading the race when a break line broke and made contact with the turn one wall on lap 90, while accidents also kept Mart Nesbitt and Clayton Rogers from victory lane.
1999 Hooters ProCup Series champion Bobby Gill reached as high as second-place before he suffered mechanical problems which ended his run after 211 laps.
Chris Diamond won the State Fair Brand Corn Dogs Hard Charger Award for his improvement from 40th to 11th, while Thurman also collected the Lucas Oil Products Halfway leader bonus.
The race began with Steven Christian passing Puryear on the first lap to take the early lead while Thurman quickly moved into second-place behind Christian for the first 42 laps of the race until he passed Christian for the lead on lap 43. Thurman held the lead until Christian passed for the lead on lap 61.