Jennerstown, PA--If you see Benny Gordon with better posture during the next two weeks, it's because he's no longer carrying the weight of the world. Three weeks before the start of the USAR Hooters ProCup Championship Series, Gordon sat in turn...
Jennerstown, PA--If you see Benny Gordon with better posture during the next two weeks, it's because he's no longer carrying the weight of the world.
Three weeks before the start of the USAR Hooters ProCup Championship Series, Gordon sat in turn 1 at USA International Speedway, pondering his future. It was 53 laps into the Jackaroo Sauces 250, and Gordon had just wadded up his second car in as many races.
"You don't even know the pressure I was under," said Gordon. "We had two wrecks in a row. I have great car owners, who are spending a lot of money, and they want you to produce."
And Gordon did just that in the Charlie Campbell Memorial Miller Lite 250 presented by Lucas Oil Products at Jennerstown Speedway.
Gordon took the lead away from Clay Rogers with 44 laps remaining and led until the finish, picking up his first win in the Hooters ProCup Series and a $10,000 check for his efforts.
"The first half of the race the car was really tight," said Gordon. "We took on four tires, made some adjustments and the car was perfect. I was worried because in the past when I thought the car was perfect we would burn a tire off and back up."
Gordon wouldn't have any reason for concern at Jennerstown as he continually charged toward the leaders after making his pit stop.
Gordon, who started seventh in the 40-car field, moved into fifth by lap 100, third by lap 150 and second by lap 200.
Once in second position, Gordon peeked to the inside of Rogers coming to the stripe on lap 201, but Rogers was able to fend off Gordon's first attempt at taking the point. Four laps later, Rogers wasn't as fortunate when Gordon swept to the inside, took the position and held off a late-race charge by Mart Nesbitt en route to the his first Victory Lane celebration in the Hooters ProCup Series.
"Once we got out free [of the lapped traffic], they were on me pretty hard about not spinning the tires," said Gordon. "I took my time getting up there. But as soon as I got around Clay, my car just kept getting better and better."
With the win, Gordon, who finished fifth at Winchester Speedway in the Championship Series opener, became the only driver to finish inside the top-5 in both Championship events and moved into fifth in Championship Series Points.
While Gordon was getting better and better late in the race, Rogers was doing the opposite.
Rogers, who led 44 laps, had a problem with the right-front tire, made a late-race stop and finished 19th.
"Bobby Gill pulled down and looked at the right front and left front under caution and he said they looked good," said Rogers. "But when we went back to green, I about crashed."
Nesbitt quickly took over second spot after Rogers' misfortune and pulled to the rear-deck lid of Gordon after the race's final caution flag came out at lap 225.
Nesbitt stayed with Gordon during the last 25 laps, but was unable to keep his car low enough in the turns to threaten Gordon, finishing .594 seconds behind.
"The car was just too tight all night long. I couldn't get into the corner as hard as I wanted," said Nesbitt. "We made a lot of changes to the car during the race, and I was doing all I could. We did some things we shouldn't have done, but we'll get it figured out."
Despite not winning, Nesbitt's second-place finish was his second finish inside the top-10 in the Championship Series and moved him to sixth in points.
Jay Fogleman also picked up his second consecutive top-10 finish in the Championship Series. Fogleman, who finished sixth at Winchester Speedway, took the checkered flag in third place.
Bobby Gill rebounded from his disappointing run at Winchester with a solid fourth-place finish and Michael Ritch did the same with his fifth-place finish at Jennerstown. Ritch also took home $500 for winning the Hard Charger Award.
However, many others weren't as fortunate.
Shane Huffman, who won the Southern Division regular-season title and Winchester, tangled with Mardy Lindley while racing for the lead on lap 111. The contact sent Huffman spinning and brought out the race's third caution.
"That was probably the only opportunity that I was going to have to lead, and I got out there and led a few laps," said Huffman. "I guess Mardy didn't like it too much. But if I was in his position, I might not of liked it either."
"We got together. I don't know if I got into him or if he got into me," said Huffman. "I guess it was just one of those racing deals. The bad part is that we had the best two cars here and we screwed around and took both of us out of it."
Lindley's version was similar, but not the same.
"We'd been running beside each other for about five laps and he kept crowding us into the outside wall," said Lindley. "He got into my left rear and turned me across the front of his nose. It's bad because we barely had 100 laps on the board."
Although Lindley, who later grabbed $1,000 for being the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader, had only cosmetic damage from the incident, he only managed a ninth-place finish.
Huffman had extensive damage to the right side of his car, but managed to stay on the lead lap while making repairs. On his last stop to pit road, hood pins were left out of the right side of the hood and Huffman had to replace them under green, loosing a lap in the process.
Huffman spun later in the race and finished four laps off the pace in 23rd. Huffman and Lindley weren't the only drivers at the top of the point standings to have trouble during the race, however.
Jason Sarvis, who was second in the point standings before Jennerstown, had a problem with the fuel pump and finished 37th. Danny O'Quinn Jr., who led 21 laps, picked up a $1,000 for being the Advanced Auto Parts Pole Award winner, but the rookie crashed out on lap 205 and finished 36th.
In addition to the $10,000 winner's check, Benny Gordon took home a $1,000 for being the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race. The race was slowed seven times for 49 laps and eight minutes for 1 red flag.
Record Falls -- Benny Gordon became the 15th different winner in the 2003 USAR Hooters ProCup Series season. Gordon's win broke the record previous record of 14 set by Kertus Davis at Motordrome Speedway in the Northern Division season finale.
Oh, Quinn -- Before the Championship Series started, Danny O'Quinn Jr. was looking forward to the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year race and the 2004 USAR Hooters ProCup Championship Series. After his second crash in a many weeks, O'Quinn had a hard time finding a way to put a positive spin on the remaining three races.
"I really don't have anything to look forward to the rest of the season," said O'Quinn. "We had a great car and now it's junk, but we'll get it ready and be at Myrtle Beach."
Home Again and Again -- Benny Gordon may be the only driver in the Championship Series that has the luxury of two home tracks in the five-race shootout to determine the 2004 champion.
Gordon grew up in De Bois, PA, had a large cheering section to make the 80-mile trip to Jennerstown Speedway to see his first win in the ProCup Series.
Now, Gordon will have another chance to bring an entourage to a Championship Series event as the series moves to Myrtle Beach Speedway on October 18. Gordon, who now lives in Charleston, SC, has competed at MBS in the Late Model Stock and Super Truck divisions.
Fogleman Fox -- Although Jay Fogleman will never steal David Pearson's nickname, his performance in the Championship Series is somewhat similar to what made Pearson famous. Fogleman has seemingly come out of nowhere to post two finishes inside the top-6. The Durham, NC driver started 30th at Winchester and finished in sixth. Fogleman started 19th at Jennerstown and finished third.
And The Winning Number is...44 -- Benny Gordon drives car No. 44 and took the lead from Clay Rogers, who led 44 laps, with 44 laps remaining in the Charlie Campbell Memorial Miller Lite 250 and went on to pick up his is first win in the USAR Hooters ProCup Series.