Gordon makes all the right moves in home-track win Point leader wins second straight race, third of season Jennerstown, Pa.-Fast cars don't always win, and good pit strategy doesn't always guarantee success. But when you put them together, they...
Gordon makes all the right moves in home-track win
Point leader wins second straight race, third of season
Jennerstown, Pa.-Fast cars don't always win, and good pit strategy doesn't always guarantee success. But when you put them together, they can add up to a dominating performance, which is exactly what Benny Gordon turned in on Saturday night at Jennerstown Speedway.
Gordon won the Awesome Awnings Pole, short-pitted on Lap 30 and retook the lead for good on Lap 115 en route to victory in the HOOTERS 250 presented by Eaton Electrical at Jennerstown Speedway.
"I couldn't have had a better car tonight," said Gordon, driver of the No. 66n Samuel Metals Ford. "The team was perfect. It was just a perfect weekend. We couldn't have asked for a better place for it to happen."
The win was Gordon's third of the season, second in a row and second at his home track.
"You see so many stories when people win in their hometown when the momentum is behind them," said Gordon, who extended his point lead to 146 over Gary St. Amant with the win. "That's just the way it seems to happen. Since I won my first race here [in 2003], this track has always been good to me, and it seemed liked we were destined to win tonight."
Though Gordon won from the pole and led the most laps (166), St. Amant was intent on derailing Gordon's destiny late in the event. As Gordon brought the field up to speed on the final restart with 20 laps remaining, St. Amant pounced on the race leader, swinging to the high side and pulling alongside Gordon.
The two raced side-by-side for two circuits before Gordon finally cleared St. Amant's machine.
"He definitely got my attention," said Gordon, who took home $13,700. "It was a pretty cool move by Gary. He probably thinks I ran him up the track in [Turns] 1 and 2, but really I didn't. I went in there and the air off his car made my car not turn and it just went right up the track. I'm kind of glad it did, because it could've been trouble if he got by me."
St. Amant's move ended up costing him second position to Derek Kale, but that wasn't on his mind after the race.
"We came here for one reason: Win this race for Randy Birk," said St. Amant, driver of the No. 7n JEGS.com/Speedco Chevrolet. "He sponsored our racecar for a lot of years, and he passed away a few months ago. Second wasn't going to be good enough; I was going to drive it into the wall before I finished second.
"On the next to the last restart, I saw Benny was loose on the restarts. I knew my only chance was to get up on the outside of him on a restart. That was the only way I was going to get by him. We got up there, but I just couldn't make it work."
St. Amant's banzai move on Gordon allowed Kale to slip to the inside and take over second place. Kale, who led 40 laps in the early stages of the event, gradually closed in on Gordon in the final 10 laps. But when the checkered flag waved, Kale finished .374 seconds behind Gordon.
"I felt like if we had 10 more laps, we could have got to Benny," said Kale, driver of the No. 22n Heritage Equipment Chevrolet. "We had something for him, at least."
With his runner-up finish, Kale jumped two positions in points to third.
"It was a great race for us," said Kale, the 2006 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year. "The whole organization has stepped up this year. We've had the same group of guys working in the shop from day one this year, and we never really had that before. We're really organized. We've got checklists for everything on the car, in the trailer and at the shop. It's been a total overhaul, and organization has been the key for us this season."
Derrick Kelley, driver of the No. 21n NGA Hooters Golf Tour Ford, posted his best run of the season by coming home fourth.
Jeff Agnew, driver of the No. 73n Team 7 Chevrolet, completed the top five and moved into fifth in the point standings with his second consecutive top- five finish.
Mikey Kile, driver of the No. 65n VisViva Energy Drink Chevrolet, picked up the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race and $1,000 for his sixth-place finish.
Jay Fogleman, driver of the No. 4n Speedco/The Works Ford, finished seventh in the HOOTERS 250. Fogleman also moved up one spot in points to sixth.
Mike Hampton, driver of the No. 31n Eaton Electrical Chevrolet, picked up his third top-10 of the season by coming home eighth.
Brett Butler, driver of the No. 99n Verve Energy Drink Ford, was the only other leader in the race. Butler led 44 laps in the middle stages of the event before being overtaken by Gordon. After pitting late, Butler charged back to finish ninth.
Ray Love Jr., driver of the No. 08n Love Concrete Chevrolet, completed the top 10.
The HOOTERS 250 was slowed 10 times for 52 laps of caution and featured three lead changes among three drivers.
HOOTERS 250 NOTEBOOK
Tim Bainey and Brett Butler teamed up this season. It was the first time DRT Enterprises had fielded two teams in the Hooters Pro Cup Series, so without a barometer, Bainey didn't have lofty expectations. But that may change if the two keep running like they have through six races.
While neither has visited Victory Lane, both have led laps and been in contention for solid finishes most of the season.
Bainey was en route to a top-five finish before running out of fuel with a handful of laps left at Jennerstown, while Butler led 44 laps and finish ninth.
"It's a tough way to end tonight," Bainey said of his 16th-place finish, "but I'm happy with the way the Aaron's Team has run this year. We've been good in the past, but we've never put it together for an extended period like we have this season.
"I'm proud of Brett and the [No.] 99 team as well. We started a second team this season, and I wasn't sure how that was going to work out. We're pretty sure we could do it. Brett's been fast all year long, but he's had some bad luck with different mechanical issues. I was glad he could lead some laps and get a top-10 finish tonight. It's just awesome driving for the team we have now. We have a lot of fun together, and we're looking forward to the rest of the season."
Clay Rogers said a few years ago that Benny Gordon reminded him of a young Darrell Waltrip, always stirring the pot. Coming into the HOOTERS 250, Gordon said he might put a "brutal beating" on the field in the HOOTERS 250 at Jennerstown. But after his Ali-eqsue performance, Gordon wasn't quite as boastful.
"I talked a little smack during the week, but these guys have given me my share of brutal beatings in the past," said Gordon. "It's just a good track for us, and I had a lot of confidence coming in here. This series is tough, so I'm sure I'll be on the other end of the stick here sometime this season."
Comeback Motorsports started this season with lofty expectations. But after six races, the team, with driver Derrick Kelley, only had one top-10 finish and sat 14th in the Sears Auto Center Northern Division.
Kelley, driver of the No. 21n NGA Hooters Golf Tour Ford, changed that with a fourth-place finish in the HOOTERS 250.
"We really were disappointed with the way we got started this season," said Kelley. "This [fourth-place finish] is indicative of how we've been running this year. We finally finished were we should have tonight."
Kelley and Comeback Motorsports jumped to 11th in the standings with their first top-five of the season.
Kile Overcomes Adversity, Wins ROTR, Hard Charger
Mikey Kile, driver of the No. 65n VisViva Energy Drink Chevrolet, got his first glimpse of Jennerstown Speedway on Thursday. He also got a first-hand look at the Turn 1 wall during his test session. But after the practice crash and 22nd-place qualifying run, Kile found his rhythm and charged to sixth at the finish and picked up the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race and Aaron's "Do the Math" Hard Charger awards.
"We had some bad luck on Thursday, and that was probably the better car," said Kile, who now leads Matt Merrell by 201 points in the rookie standings. "But everybody on this team bounced back and got this car just as quick. We didn't make a mock qualifying run during practice. We were just junk during qualifying, but we knew we had a good racecar for the race. We ended up sixth, so it was good night for us."
Benny Gordon went the entire race on his right-side BFGoodrich Tires g- Force radials. On Lap 25, Gordon chose to take only left-side tires during his mandatory stop.Gordon's pole-winning lap of 18.78 seconds at 100.027 mph nearly eclipsed his own track record of 18.77 seconds, which came right after the track was repaved.Tim Bainey turned the quickest lap of the race on Lap 236 when he lapped Jennerstown in 19.031 seconds at 98.744 mph, which was nearly a tenth of second quicker than he qualified.