Clay Rogers Wins Food City 150 Rogers, driver of the No. 44 Johnny's Suzuki/Baird Transport Ford, took the lead from Jeff Agnew on Lap 137 of the Food City 150 presented by Naturally Fresh and survived a green-white-checkered finish en route...
Clay Rogers Wins Food City 150
Rogers, driver of the No. 44 Johnny's Suzuki/Baird Transport Ford, took the lead from Jeff Agnew on Lap 137 of the Food City 150 presented by Naturally Fresh and survived a green-white-checkered finish en route to his first victory of the season and his first at famed Bristol Motor Speedway.
"Winning at Bristol is absolutely a dream come true," said Rogers. "I grew up watching them race at Bristol, and I always dreamed about racing here. Now, I've won here, so it was a great night for our team."
Rogers' night didn't start great, however.
After leading the first five laps, Rogers, 24, and pole-sitter Shane Wallace made contact going into Turn 2, bring out the first caution of the night.
"I know Shane is probably mad at me," said Rogers. "But as soon as I started to turn down, my spotter told me he was there."
The contact sent Rogers and Wallace spinning in Turn 2.
"I really thought I'd knocked the radiator out of the car," said Rogers. "I guess I was mistaken. I came in and the team said the nose looked fine."
While inopportune for Rogers, most of the lead-lap cars took the opportunity to come to pit lane under the caution.
Bobby Gill, who inherited the lead after the leaders collided, Shane Huffman and Mark McFarland all came to pit road for what they hoped would be their only stop of the night.
But it wouldn't be for all of three.
On Lap 17, Steve Wallace turned Joel Kauffman around at the exit of Turn 2 in front of the pack. Huffman, Gill and McFarland were involved in the melee, along with Clay Rogers, Brandon Collins, Shane Wallace and Ken Butler III.
McFarland and Rogers received the least amount of damage, but Shane Wallace and Kauffman were finished for the night.
Michael Faulk, driver of the No. 53 Liftoff Ford, found himself out front after the round of stops by the leaders. However, it would be a short-lived lead.
Once the green unfurled, Kertus Davis blasted around Faulk to take his first lead since early 2004. Davis, driver of the No. 68 AwesomeAwnings.com Ford, paced the field for 29 laps before Jason Sarvis took the point.
Sarvis, pitting out of sequence with the leaders, kept his No. 16 Naturally Fresh Ford at the front of the field for 50 laps, but Rogers was making his charge back to the front.
By Lap 75, Rogers had rumbled back to sixth spot on the grid. McFarland was also on the march back to the front after being swept up in the early, multi-car wreck.
The two were knifing their way back to the front when Rogers clipped Kirk Leone while going for the fifth spot. Leone, driver of the No. 52 Ford, hit the wall in Turn 4 to bring out the fourth caution of the night on Lap 90.
Most of the leaders who had not been to pit road used the yellow flag to come in for service. Stacy Puryear, who pitted early in the race, cycled into the lead once Sarvis came to the attention of the Naturally Fresh crew.
Puryear, driver of the No. 01 Willette Investments Chevy, kept the top spot for 19 laps, but Rogers was closing in a hurry.
Rogers finally made his way around Puryear on Lap 115.
"Our car was just great from the center of the corner off," said Rogers. "It wasn't that good getting in the corner, but I could get under them coming off the corner."
But Rogers would not get off the corner that well on Lap 124.
Shane Huffman, driver of the No. 81 Knight's Companies Ford, was trying to fight his way back on the lead lap after being involved in the early-race incident and shoved Rogers high coming off Turn 4. The contact enabled Jeff Agnew, driver of the No. 73 NGA Hooters Golf Tour Chevy, to take the lead on Lap 125.
"I was pretty hot about Shane getting into me," said Rogers. "But, hey, that's just hard racing. He was trying to get back on the lead lap and protect his point lead, but I was still mad."
Rogers regrouped and made his way around Agnew, who led 12 laps, for good on Lap 137. But with two caution flags in the final 20 laps, Rogers would have a mirror full of Agnew, who won the Northern Division race at Illiana (Ind.) Speedway on Saturday night, late in the going.
In the end, Agnew fell .291 seconds shy of his second win in five days.
"Clay was better than us, but it was good for our team to come up here and run second," said Agnew. "We had a bunch of bad luck this year, so maybe we've got some momentum going at the right time of the year."
After numerous stops during the race, McFarland, driver of the No. 32 WINFUEL Chevy, made his way back to third and exploded an engine after he took the checkered in third place.
"I'm just glad that engine held up for that last lap," said McFarland, who announced his plans to enter the Busch Series with his JR Motorsports team next season. "It's been a good couple of days for us. Now, we'll get ready to go to Lakeland."
Billy Bigley Jr., driver of the No. 25 Peerless Woodworking Ford, picked up his best finish of the season by coming home in fourth.
Jason Sarvis posted a season-best finish by rounding out the top five.
The Food City 150 featured 10 lead changes among eight drivers and was slowed 10 times for 74 laps of caution.
Food City 150 Notebook
Nearly First to Worst
Last year, Shane Huffman went from worst to first in the Food City 150. This season, Shane Wallace, driver of the No. 38 Ford, nearly went from first to worst.
After setting a new track record and grabbing $1,000 for winning the Advance Auto Parts Pole Award, Wallace finished 35th after being involved in an accident on Lap 17.
Extra Time Cut Short
Busch Series rookies Joel Kauffman and Kertus Davis were both looking for a little extra seat time before Friday night's running of the Food City 250, but that didn't happen in the Food City 150.
Kauffman, driver of the No. 44 Super Cuts Pontiac, retired on Lap 17 after being tapped by Steve Wallace and destroying his car.
Davis led 29 laps before retiring on Lap 83 of the Food City 150 with mechanical failure.
Michael Faulk, driver of the No. 53 Liftoff Ford, picked up his fourth Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Award of the season for his seventh-place finish. Faulk, who grabbed $1,000 for the award, also made gains on Chase Pistone, who finished 11th, in the rookie of the year battle. Wayne Willard, driver of the No. 01 Bowen Family Homes Chevy, also picked up a few points on Pistone with his eighth-place finish.
Rick Markle, driver of the No. 60n Plansouth Development Ford won the Mr. Gasket Hard Charger Award. Markle advanced from 24th to sixth at the finish of the Food City 150.
Jason Sarvis has had a tough season. But during the Food City 150, Sarvis looked to return to the form that nabbed him the 2002 Hooters Pro Cup Championship. Sarvis picked up the Greased Lightning "Blast the Pack Award" for leading a race-high 50 laps en route to his fifth-place finish. Sarvis also picked up $1,000 for being the Lucas Oil Halfway Leader Award.