Benny Gordon Wins Miller Lite 250 North East, PA-On paper, Benny Gordon led the final 150 laps of the Miller Lite 250 presented by Stewart Warner Performance at Lake Erie Speedway en route to his third win of the season. But on the track, it was...
Benny Gordon Wins Miller Lite 250
North East, PA-On paper, Benny Gordon led the final 150 laps of the Miller Lite 250 presented by Stewart Warner Performance at Lake Erie Speedway en route to his third win of the season. But on the track, it was a different story.
Gordon had to work overtime to pick up the victory after a late-race caution set up a green-white-checkered finish. Glued to Gordon's back bumper was the car of Gary St. Amant, who was trimming Gordon's lead each circuit before the caution waved on Lap 246.
But Gordon never faltered once the final green flew and beat St. Amant to the checkered flag by .472 seconds on Lap 252 to take his 12th career win in the Hooters Pro Cup Series.
"My car was really good on restarts," said Gordon, driver of the No. 66 Predator Performance Ford. "If I didn't overrun [Turn 1] and hit my line, I figured we would be in good shape."
Laps before, St. Amant looked to be in the best shape for victory.
Running a line higher than the rest of the field, St. Amant blasted around the top side of Joel Kauffman, driver of the No. 44 RMI/Hare Auto.com Pontiac, on Lap 240 to take second and was turning times fast enough to run down Gordon over final 10 laps.
"It was going to be close," said St. Amant, who won at LES in 2004. "I don't know if I could have passed him, but it would have been one heck of a race. Our car was just better on long runs, but we couldn't get one towards the end."
Kauffman followed St. Amant across the line to take third. Over the second half of the race, it was Kauffman who looked like the only driver capable of running down Gordon. But every time Kauffman closed Gordon's lead, the Northern Division Champion stretched the lead back out.
"When you get a good lead, it's not very smart to run the tires of the car," said Gordon. "My guys were telling me times the whole night. When I needed to pick it up, I could. Not a whole lot, but just enough to keep a safe lead."
Kauffman, running second at the time, also felt like he had a safe lead over St. Amant.
"I was just sitting back trying to save my stuff, because we had a pretty good lead over third," said Kauffman, who broke a string of three DNFs with his third-place finish. "I didn't feel like I was running that hard, but I guess [St. Amant] was saving his stuff too. All in all, we had a good night, especially after three DNFs."
While Kauffman shook the bad luck, it seemed to land on the shoulders of Jeff Agnew and Johnny Rumley.
Agnew, who started second, swept around Rumley, who won the Advance Auto Parts Pole Award, at the start and led the first 33 laps of the Miller Lite 250. But on Lap 34, Agnew's car limped around the apron of the track with a cut tire. Agnew pitted to fix the damage. But 30 laps later, Agnew returned to pit road with problems with the right front of the No. 73 NGA Hooters Golf Tour Chevy.
With Agnew out of contention, Rumley took control of the race before coming to pit road on Lap 102. Rumley lost six spots as the lead-lap cars cycled through pit stops. Rumley raced his way back to fourth, but brake problems dropped the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevy two laps down at the finish.
Mardy Lindley, driver of the No. 16 Hooters Air Ford, continued his string of top-10 finishes by coming home fourth. Lindley has finished in the top 10 in all six Northern Division events this season.
Mart Nesbitt, driver of the No. 88 BCBS Ford, rounded out the top five. Nesbitt's finish was his first top-five finish of the season.
"I thought I had a car for the pole, but I went out there and drove like a crazy man and had to start [16th]," said Nesbitt. "We we're real fortunate to get out of here without the car being tore up after we had to start so far back. I had to run with my tongue hung out to stay on the lead lap. But, with the way our year has been going, I'll take a fifth,"
Shelby Howard, A.J. Frank, Glenn Gault, Woody Howard, and Rumley completed the top 10.
Woody Howard picked up the Mr. Gasket Hard Charger Award for moving from 21st to ninth at the finish.
A.J. Frank, driver of the No. 45 American IronHorse Ford, picked up his fourth Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Award with his seventh-place finish.
The Miller Lite 250 featured four lead changes among four drivers and was slowed nine times for 49 laps of caution.
Miller Lite 250 Notebook
Bonus Points and Bucks
Benny Gordon, driver of the No. 66 Predator Performance Ford, added 10 bonus points to his total for leading a race-high 150 laps and leading at the halfway mark of the Miller Lite 250 at Lake Erie Speedway.
Gordon also picked up $1,000 for taking the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader Award and $500 more via the Greased Lightning "Blast the Pack" Award for leading the most laps.
Father's Day Gift
Glenn Gault was pleased with his eighth-place finish in the Miller Lite 250 at Lake Erie Speedway, but he had an ear-to-ear grin during the Late Model Stock race on Friday night. Gault's son, Glenn Jr., picked up the win in the 40-lap feature at LES.
"It's kind of like when your son hits a home run," said Gault, driver of the No. 32 American Title & Trust Chevy. "I was very proud."
Mart Nesbitt switched to the Northern Division of the Hooters Pro Cup Series this season after years of the competing in the Southern Division. Nesbitt is seeing many of the tracks for the first time in his career, but he had something to compare Lake Erie Speedway against from his days as a Southern Division regular.
"It really reminds me of a cross between South Boston and Ace Speedway," said Nesbitt. "I think we'll be real good the next time we come back."
Johnny Rumley, driver of the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevy, picked up $1,000 for winning the Advance Auto Parts Pole Award in the Miller Lite 250 at Lake Erie Speedway. It wasn't a shock that Rumley led qualifying; it was more of a shock that it was his first pole of the year.
"We've just been a little off this year," said Rumley, who won a series- high eight poles in 2004. "We just haven't figured out this tire yet, but I think we're gaining on it."
Rick Markle, driver of the No. 60 Tex Racing Pontiac, Dwayne Tatman, driver of the No. 24 HTS Mulch Products Chevy, Allen Purkhiser, driver of the No. 93 Great Clips Ford, and Neil Gacom, driver of the No. 2 K&J Racing Chevy, made their first starts of the season.
Tatman finished the highest finishing of the newbies, coming home 16th.
Time of Race: 1:28:23
Margin of Victory: .472 Sec.
Caution Flags: 9 for 49 Laps
Lead Changes: 4 Lead Changes Among 4 drivers
Lap Leaders: 1-33 Jeff Agnew (33); 34-101 Johnny Rumley (68); 102 Vince Fanello (1); 103-252 Benny Gordon (150).