Clay Rogers Wins Naturally Fresh 250 Altamahaw, N.C.--After the first four races of the Southern Division, Clay Rogers believed he had a chance to win them all. The Southern Division point leader had chance to win another one at Ace...
Clay Rogers Wins Naturally Fresh 250
Altamahaw, N.C.--After the first four races of the Southern Division, Clay Rogers believed he had a chance to win them all.
The Southern Division point leader had chance to win another one at Ace Speedway on May 7, and he did just that.
Rogers, driver of the No. 44 ToFF Sprayed-On Bedliners Ford, became the first repeat winner in the Hooters ProCup Series this season.
Rogers, who won the Southern Division season opener at USA Int'l Speedway, became the first two-time winner of the season by outlasting Jay Fogleman in the Naturally Fresh 250 presented by Dave's Discount Furniture. The Mooresville, N.C., driver took the lead away from Shane Huffman, driver of the No. 84 John Morrell Dinner Bell Ford, on Lap 199 and led until the checkered flag waved on Friday night.
"Shane was power driving the car to stay in front of us," said Rogers, who stalked Huffman for 20 laps before making it past. "I knew it was just a matter of time before we got by him.
Brakes were the story here tonight. After about 15 or 20 laps, Shane's brakes were cherry red. I just tried to wait it out and pass him clean."
After Rogers made it by Huffman, Jay Fogleman followed suit and moved into second on Lap 206.
Fogleman, who has 23 Late Model Stock wins at Ace, was able to close on Rogers, but the Durham, N.C., driver was unable to pull even and finished .900 sec. behind Rogers.
"Our car just got tight at the end of the race, and Clay was better than us," said Fogleman, who picked up $1,000 for being the Advance Auto Parts Pole Award winner. "The best place to be was out front tonight."
And Fogleman, driver of the No. 4 Lucas Oil Ford, was there the longest of any driver in the 250-lap race.
Fogleman was able to beat Huffman, who started second, into Turn 1 on the first lap and held the lead until coming to pit land on Lap 111.
While Fogleman was pacing the field, other drivers were jockeying into--and out of--contention.
After starting sixth, Jason Sarvis, driver of the No. 36 Bill Miller Equipment Sales Chevy, moved into third on Lap 65. However, Sarvis wouldn't get a chance to race down Rogers and Fogleman for the lead.
On Lap 71, Sarvis spun to miss the stalled car of Brandon Collins. Sarvis rejoined the field, but he would retire with mechanical failure on Lap 94.
With Sarvis out of the fray, Bobby Gill, who started seventh, moved into the third spot, but the three-time champion, driving the No. 5 Ford, had nothing for the lead duo.
Jody Lavender, who started 21st, made an impressive run into the top 10 by Lap 87. However, Lavender's car, the No. 99 H&R Block Ford, fell off late in the race and he finished 14th.
David Pletcher, driver of the No. 51 RaceFansDating.com Ford, was another driver on the move in the first half of the event. Pletcher moved from 10th to fourth before the teams hit pit road.
On the other hand, Huffman fell from second to fifth by Lap 51.
Fogleman and Rogers showed the way for entirety of the first half until the lead-lap car hit pit road for service on Lap 111.
Fogleman led the field into the pits, but he would return to the track third behind Huffman and Matt Carter, driver of the No. 22 HeavyTruckDealers.com Ford. Huffman made up four spots in the pits and Carter went from seventh to second.
Fogleman and Rogers made contact during the stop, but Mart Nesbitt received the brunt of the accident.
"They dropped the jack, and I took off," said Rogers. "Fogleman's jack dropped after I took off. I was almost up beside Jay when he pulled out, and I swerved to miss him. Everything happened to so fast and I shoved Mart off pit road. I hate that it happened."
Nesbitt, driver of the No. 92 BCBSNC.com Chevy, lost a lap while his car was removed from the infield grass. Nesbitt finished 18th.
Even with the contact, Fogleman and Rogers restarted fourth and fifth, respectively, behind Bud Kenny, driver of the No. 13 SPA Guy Chevy, Huffman and Carter.
Kenny, who pitted under an earlier caution, was no match for the Huffman once the race restarted and lost the lead to Huffman on Lap 121.
Huffman, who netted an extra $1,000 for being the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader, held the top spot until Rogers made it past for good on Lap 199. Huffman held on to finish fourth.
"Obviously, we're disappointed because we didn't win the race," said Huffman. "I made a bad call on the air pressure in the second half and it cost us. I have to apologize to the crew because they did a great job. We had a good car and it came home without a scratch on it."
Gill made a late-race pass on Huffman to pick up his fourth top-five finish of the season.
Billy Bigley Jr., who advanced 11 spots during the race and picked up $500 for being the Hard Charger, rounded out the top five.
Randy Humphrey picked up $1,000 for being the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Award winner by virtue of his ninth-place finish.
The Billy Bigley Award
An admitted bad qualifier, Billy Bigley Jr. is making the most of his starting spots. Bigley picked up $500 and his second Hard Charger Award of the season in the Naturally Fresh 250.
"Saying that I'm a bad qualifier is an understatement," said Bigley Jr., driver of the No. 25 Peerless Woodworking Ford. "I used the car up coming from the back. But all in all, it was a good night."
Resilient Race Team
Coming into the Naturally Fresh 250, Joe Gaita, driver of the No. 06 USG Sheetrock Brand Products Ford, had seen his share of ups and downs this season. Friday it was more of the latter.
With 30 minutes left in practice, Gaita slammed into the side of Billy Mowery, who had spun at the exit of Turn 4. Without a backup car, Gaita looked to be heading home early. However, his team nearly rebuilt his car in a matter of hours, and Gaita rolled on the starting grid after the invocation.
"The team did a heckuva job," said Gaita. "Nobody thought they would get that car back out there, but they did. It's disappointing because we needed the points and to do well for the sponsors. All I can say is that it took one heck of a good effort to get that car on the track."
Happy To Be Here
Randy Humphrey didn't win the Naturally Fresh 250, but it was hard to tell after the race as friends and family gathered around the Cornelius, N.C., driver in the pits. Why the fan fare? Humphrey, a former DASH driver, had just picked up $1,000 for being the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race and his first top-10 finish, which came just two weeks after failing to qualify at Concord.
"A lot of people don't know that we took an old Busch [Series] car to Concord," said Humphrey, driver of the No. 93 Anderson Aggregates Ford. "Our car had to be re-clipped after South Boston. We decided to go to Concord and give it a try because we want to be a part of this Series. We tried and it bit us.
"We brought our good car back tonight, and it showed. We're happy to be [in the Hooters ProCup Series], and we just want to be competitive."
Ritch's New Ride
Michael Ritch had the familiar No. 28 Jackaroo car on hand at Ace Speedway, but the emblem on the front of the car was a bit different. Ritch made the switch from Dodge to Pontiac this weekend--and did it well. Ritch qualified third and finished eighth.
The Return of Dokken
Michael Dokken made his return to racing at Ace Speedway. Dokken, a former Craftsman Truck driver, had not been a car since he suffered a broken bone at the base of his skull after crashing during a practice session in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Michigan on July 25, 2003. Dokken made just 26 laps before being sidelined with mechanical failure.