USAR: Jennerstown: Northern Division race report

Johnny Rumley Wins Lucas Oil 250 Jennerstown, Pa. - Hard work does pay off. Johnny Rumley and Mark Huff reunited this season with one goal in mind: win races. After going winless in their first stint together in 1999 and 2000, Huff and ...

Johnny Rumley Wins Lucas Oil 250

Jennerstown, Pa. - Hard work does pay off.

Johnny Rumley and Mark Huff reunited this season with one goal in mind: win races.

After going winless in their first stint together in 1999 and 2000, Huff and Rumley won two poles in the first three races this season, but their first win together was still just out of reach. Tonight, the seemingly unobtainable victory finally came.

Rumley, driver of the No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford, took the lead away from Brian Ross, driver of the No. 42 U.S. Truck Insurance Group Ford, on Lap 142 and checked out on the field, beating Jeff Agnew to 6.596 seconds and picking up his first ProCup win in the Lucas Oil 250 presented by Murray's Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star at Jennerstown Speedway on Saturday night.

"Relief!" shouted Mark Huff in Lance Kelly Designs' Victory Lane. "It's been a long time coming. We've had a lot of opportunities to win races, but it didn't work out that way. Tonight, it did."

Rumley echoed Huff's sentiment.

"With about 40 to go, I was praying that we didn't have a caution," said Rumley, who also won $1,000 for being the Advance Auto Parts Pole Award winner. "That's something that I never do, because I take that seriously. I needed it to finish under green, and it did. I just need to thank God for that one."

Rumley, who has two wins in the Busch Series, needed the race to finish under green because Jeff Agnew was turning comparable times to Rumley in the second half of the race. But after a bad pit stop, Agnew, driver of the No. 73 NGA/Hooters Tour Chevy, restarted fifth with 111 laps remaining.

"The pit stop definitely cost us tonight," said Agnew. "It's too hard to get behind all of these cars and then come to the front."

Agnew didn't have to worry about that at the start of the race.

After starting second, Agnew started pressuring Rumley for the lead from the outset of the 250-lap feature. Getting runs out of the corner, Agnew was able to get his nose alongside Rumley four times in the first 10 laps. But each time, Rumley slammed the door.

Finally on Lap 13, Agnew was able to clear Rumley and take the lead.

Agnew pulled out to a 1.2-second lead by Lap 25 and was setting a torrid pace. Agnew, who qualified with time of 19.626 second, clipped off a lap of 19.496 seconds in the first 50 laps and lapped up to 12th position.

While Agnew held a comfortable lead, many drivers running in the top five were jockeying for position.

Benny Gordon, driver of the No. 66 Predator Performance Ford, tangled with Rumley for the second spot on Lap 82. Exiting Turn 4, Gordon nudged Rumley up the track, but Rumley held on to the car and the position.

Mardy Lindley, driver of the No. 16 Hooters Air Ford, joined the battle moments later. Lindley pressured Gordon for 10 laps before finally taking third on Lap 125. But that would be as far as the charge would go for Lindley.

On Lap 132, Lindley's car stopped in Turn 4, bringing out the final caution and sending Lindley behind the wall for repairs.

"The sway-bar arm broke off the left side of the car, and I couldn't drive it after that," said Lindley, who finished 17th. "If we finish, we win. I probably had a better car here than we did at IRP."

Lindley's bad luck turned out to be good luck for the lead-lap cars as they all visited pit road during the caution period.

Brian Ross, driver of the No. 42 US Insurance Group Ford, took two tires and the lead after the stops. Rumley beat all drivers taking four tires of pit road and lined up behind Ross on the restart. After leading 121 laps, Agnew led the field to pit lane, but restarted fifth. And that would be all Rumley needed.

The Winston-Salem driver bypassed Ross on Lap 143 picked up where Agnew left off in the first half of the event, blistering the field.

Rumley turned quick lap of the night on Lap 151, clipping off a lap of 19.428 seconds and pulling away from Eric Corbett, driver of the No. 75 Larry and Sons Ford.

After dominating the first half of the race, Agnew was having problems moving toward the front after the restart.

"They will race you harder for 10th than they will for the lead," said Agnew.

They also race hard for third.

Agnew moved into fourth on Lap 142, but Benny Gordon, driver of the No. 66 Predator Performance Ford, wasn't going to give up third easily.

Agnew started pressuring Gordon for the podium spot with 100 laps to go and finally made it past on Lap 172.

By that time, Rumley held a seven-second lead over Agnew. Agnew reeled in Eric Corbett, driver of the No. 75 Larry and Sons Ford, and moved into second on Lap 192, but Rumley was gone.

"I finally got to second, and Johnny was like six seconds ahead," said Agnew, who picked up $1,000 for being the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader. "I couldn't catch, so I was just hoping for a caution."

It never came. The race was slowed only four times for 22 laps of caution and ran caution free for the final 111 laps.

Gordon made his way around Corbett to take third at the finish.

"I had a lot of high hopes for down here," said Gordon, who won the Championship Series event at Jennerstown last season. "I just can't driver the car hard yet. We've got a little problem with the car, and when we get it fixed, we're going to be good."

Corbett finished a season-best fourth. Kertus Davis, driver of the No. 68 N-ergy Beverage Ford, also picked up his best finish of the season, coming home in fifth.

J.J. Pack, driver of the No. 06 Phillips Seafood/Naturally Fresh Chevy, posted his best finish of the season. Pack finished ninth and grabbed $1,000 from Miller Lite for being the Rookie of the Race.

Lucas Oil 250 Notebook

Race Record

The BFGoodrich Tires Traction T/A tire has set six track records this season. The record didn't fall in qualifying at Jennerstown, but it was lowered under race conditions. Jeff Agnew and Johnny Rumley both eclipsed the record of 19.561 seconds held by Charlie Ford. In the first 50 laps, Agnew turned a lap of 19.496. Rumley bettered that mark with a lap of 19.428 second on Lap 151.

J.J.'s Day

Rookie driver J.J. Pack had plenty of pressure on him at Jennerstown. Pack had sponsors Phillips Seafood and Helo Air on hand to watch his performance in the Lucas Oil 250. And he didn't disappoint them.

Pack, who finished ninth, notched his first top-10 finish and picked up Miller Lite Rookie of the Race honors.

"In the first 50 laps, I thought we had the best car out there," said Pack. "I put my head down and thought we might have a chance at a top-five finish. Then Gary St. Amant caught me, and I knew we weren't going to catch the leaders. But this was a good run for us, and we keep getting better each time we go out."

New Style

Kertus Davis hasn't been himself this season. Davis' best finish was a ninth at IRP before the running of the Lucas Oil 250. After finishing fifth at Jennerstown, Davis appears to be returning to his old form. Albeit, with a different persona.

"I changed my driving style earlier this year," said Davis. "I was trying to be easy on the tires. But tonight, I got up on the wheel like Tim Richmond would."

Starting to Show

Eric Corbett picked up his first top-five finish of the year at Jennerstown. After picking up a win, six top-5s, and 10 top-10 finishes in 2003, Corbett believes he's heading in the right direction.

"We've had good cars all season, but we've not had the luck," said Corbett. "Tonight, we stayed out of trouble and got to show our hand a little."

Learning the Ropes

Jimmy Spencer Jr. made his second start in the Hooters ProCup Series in the Lucas Oil 250 and nearly walked away with a top-10 finish.

Under the tutelage of Jason Sarvis, Spencer Jr. stayed out of trouble and finished 12th.

-usar-

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Jimmy Spencer , Brian Ross , Kertus Davis , Tim Richmond , Johnny R , Jeff Agnew