Benny Gordon Wins Greased Lightning 250 Radford, VA-With six Southern Division interlopers making the field for the Greased Lightning 250 presented by Star Country 94.9 FM at Motor Mile Speedway, the Northern Division race had all the makings of...
Benny Gordon Wins Greased Lightning 250
Radford, VA-With six Southern Division interlopers making the field for the Greased Lightning 250 presented by Star Country 94.9 FM at Motor Mile Speedway, the Northern Division race had all the makings of a Championship Series event. Unfortunately for the 32-car field, Benny Gordon was in championship form on Saturday night.
Gordon took the lead on Lap 134 and held off a late-race charge by Mark McFarland en route to his division-leading fourth win of the season.
"I think this gives us some momentum heading towards the Championship Series," said Gordon, driver of the No. 66 Predator Performance Ford. "We learned a lot about the track tonight. Anytime you win at a championship track, that's good for when you come back."
But Gordon wasn't the only driver to show his strength in the stacked field.
Clay Rogers, who won the Championship Series race at MMS in 2004, started on the outside of row one and made his way past McFarland, who started from the Advance Auto Parts Pole, on Lap 5.
Rogers built healthy margins over McFarland and Gordon during the first 50 laps, but Gordon began to close the gap around the 75-lap mark. Gordon, the defending Northern Division Champion and current point leader in the Northern Division, attempted to bypass Rogers on several occasions but was unable to make his way past.
On Lap 94, A.J. Frank, the current rookie point leader, pounded the Turn 1 wall, bringing out the sixth caution of the night. Gordon took the opportunity to come to pit road. With most of the leaders, including Rogers, electing to stay out, Gordon returned to the track in 15th position.
Even though Gordon dropped to 15th for the restart, Rogers didn't have clear sailing at the head of the field.
Michael Ritch, driver of the No. 28s Jackaroo Ford, moved from sixth to second in the first 100 laps and began to hound Rogers for the lead. On Lap 107, Ritch pulled alongside Rogers, driver of the No. 44s Johnny's Suzuki/Baird Transport Ford, for the lead, but Rogers was able to keep the lead until coming to pit road on Lap 120.
Ritch inherited the lead on Lap 122 and picked up $1,000 for being the Lucas Oil Halfway Leader before coming to pit road for his mandatory stop on Lap 132.
After the lead-lap cars cycled through their stops, Gordon took the point on Lap 133.
"I didn't really want to come in [on Lap 94]," said Gordon, "but we came in and made some adjustments to tighten the car up. Once we made those adjustments, the car just took off. I was confident that once we got out front that somebody was going to have to really good to beat us."
McFarland, driver of the No. 32s WINFUEL Chevy, nearly was good enough.
With Gordon hung in lapped traffic late in the going, McFarland trimmed Gordon's lead from 3.5 seconds to 1.5 seconds with 30 laps remaining.
"Our car wasn't good on the top of the track," said Gordon. "When I got pushed up there, I really had to slow up to keep from slipping the tires and burning the car up. I was willing to give up the track time just to be easy and not make any mistakes."
But on Lap 233, Gordon's lead was totally erased when Joey Logano, running third, brushed the Turn 1 wall to bring out the final caution.
McFarland made a valiant effort once the green unfurled, ducking to inside of Gordon in Turn 1 and ever so slightly nudging the race leader, but the JR Motorsports driver finished .523 seconds shy of his first win.
"I thought I had a shot at Benny on that last restart," said McFarland, who finished a season-best second. "But the longer we ran, the looser the car got, and Benny was able to pull away."
Despite his late-race slip, Logano, driver of the No. 51 Logano Motorsports Ford, held on to finish third and picked up $1,000 for his third consecutive Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Award.
"I'm pretty glad that race is over," said Logano. "I started having brake problems and was having to pump the brakes going down the straightaway. One time, the pedal just went to the floor and I got into the wall. That caution helped us and let the brakes cool down, and we were great after that."
Joel Kauffman, driver of the No. 44 RMI Pontiac, rallied from an unscheduled stop to finish fourth.
"We had a master cylinder go bad on the brakes," Kauffman said of his unscheduled stop. "We had to put bungee cords on the brake pedal. At one point after that, we were in 30th place. To come back and finish in the top five was just a tremendous feat for our team."
Kauffman wasn't the only driver in the top five to make an unscheduled stop during the night and rally for a good finish.
Shane Huffman, who finished fifth, brought his No. 81s Knight's Companies Ford, to pit road early and often in the first 100 laps.
"We had a hunk of junk when we started the race," said Huffman, who was shaking down a new car in his out-of-division start. "We kept coming in and working on it and kept coming in and working on it. Hats off to my crew for what they did. We did what we wanted to do. We got one race under our belt with this car, and fifth ain't bad."
Clay Rogers, who picked up the $500 and the Greased Lighting "Blast the Pack" Award for leading a race-high 120 laps, made a late-race stop and dropped to 10th at the finish.
Lonnie Rush Jr., driver of the No. 71 Ray Skillman Auto Chevy, lost a lap early in the race, but he was able to make it up and finish sixth. Rush picked up $500 for winning the Mr. Gasket Hard Charger Award for advancing 19 positions.
The Greased Lightning 250 presented by Star Country 94.9 FM featured four lead changes among four drivers and was slowed 13 times for 73 laps of caution.
Greased Lightning 250 Notebook
The Greased Lightning 250 at Motor Mile Speedway was littered with former MMS regulars, but Mark McFarland was the only one to nab a top-five finish. Eric Sartin finished last, Johnny Rumley finished 31st, Michael Ritch led 12 laps but finished 25th, Richard Landreth finished 15th, Woody Howard finished 21st and Jeff Agnew, a four-time MMS champion, finished ninth.
Spencer Moves to Car Owner
Jimmy Spencer Jr. has been a regular on the Hooters Pro Cup tour for the last two seasons. But in the Greased Lightning 250 at Motor Mile Speedway, Spencer moved into a new role on the Spencer Motor Ventures team as a car owner.
Spencer hired Jason Sarvis to replace him in the No. 36 Focus/Smith Transport Pontiac for the Motor Mile race. Sarvis ran in the top five for the first half of the race before finishing eighth.
"We had a competitive car tonight and ran in the top five the first time out," said Sarvis, who drives the No. 16 Naturally Fresh Ford in the Southern Division. "If there's open weekends that I can drive for Jimmy again, and they want me to drive, I'll be there."
Lonnie Rush Jr. rolled his No. 71 Ray Skillman Auto Chevy through the tech line early in the day with a horseshoe strapped across the bumper. And after his sixth-place finish in the Greased Lightning 250 at Motor Mile Speedway, the horseshoe will likely remain in place for the rest of the year.
"We've been fast all year, but we haven't had any luck," said Rush, a former Craftsman Truck Series driver. "If the team puts the horseshoe on the car again, we're definitely going to keep it on there."
Forty-four cars showed up for the Greased Lightning 250 at Motor Mile Speedway attempting to make the 32-car field, and only the top 28 in Advance Auto Parts Qualifying were guaranteed starting spots in the stacked field.
The top-28 cars were separated by just .473 seconds in qualifying.