USAR: Myrtle Beach CS: Race report

Benny Gordon Wins Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 Myrtle Beach, SC-Debunking local wisdom, it seems the way to get around Myrtle Beach Speedway is to drive every lap like it's the last one. Well, at least that works for Benny Gordon. The...

Benny Gordon Wins Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250

Myrtle Beach, SC-Debunking local wisdom, it seems the way to get around Myrtle Beach Speedway is to drive every lap like it's the last one.

Well, at least that works for Benny Gordon.

The former Ladson resident used that strategy in the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 presented by Black's Tire Service at MBS as he won his third consecutive Hooters ProCup Series race at his former stomping ground.

"The hammer-down philosophy seems to be the only strategy that works for me here," said Gordon, driver of the No. 66 Predator Performance Ford. "We set our car up for the 50-lap runs, and that's the way the cautions fell for us tonight."

Two of the 11 cautions flew in the final 10 laps, making Gordon sweat out the final green-white-checkered finish to pick up his series-high seventh win of the season.

"I couldn't help but think about last year's green-white-checker," said Gordon, who tangled with Shane Huffman during last season's Championship Series event at MBS. "I guess that was a little different circumstances, and we had a little different outcome as well."

Michelle Theriault's crash on Lap 250 set up the final dash for the checkered, but Gordon, a former MBS regular, was able to beat Michael Ritch, driver of the No. 28 Jackaroo Pontiac, to the stripe by .880 of a second.

"I didn't have anything for Benny on the last restart," said Ritch, whose second-place finish matched his best finish of the season. "I might have had a chance to go to the outside of him on the restart, but he was too good. We fell out of a few races lately, and this definitely gives us some momentum going into the final two races."

Other favorites weren't as fortunate. Shane Huffman and Bobby Gill were tied for the point lead coming into the race, but both had off nights.

Huffman finished 16th, while Gill finished 24th.

Huffman, who qualified fourth, took two tires on the first stop and was saving four tires for the final run to the checkered. But by the time Huffman was able to pit for fresh BFGoodrich Tires Traction T/A radials, Huffman, who led seven laps, was a lap down and out of contention.

Gill looked to be en route to a top-three finish, but a broken axle dropped him from contention.

With his win and bad night by the point leaders, Gordon, who picked up $1,000 for being the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader, now takes a 74-point lead into the next race at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., on Nov. 7.

The overall point race wasn't the only thing to take a drastic turn at MBS. The rookie-of-the-year standings also took a big turn.

Gary St. Amant entered with a sizable margin over Matt Carter, but St. Amant fell out of the race with mechanical failure on Lap 190.

Carter, driver of the No. 22 Ford, made the most of St. Amant's misfortune by matching his best performance of the season. Carter, who drives for Cerro Gordo's Ricky Benton Racing, finished fourth and picked up $1,000 for being the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race, closing St. Amant's rookie lead to 21 points.

"I don't wish any bad luck on anyone, but we knew St. Amant was going to have to have some bad luck for us to get back into the rookie race," Carter said. "I thought we had a car that could have won the race, but it was great to run good in front of all of Ricky's friends."

And there were plenty of them in attendance. The ProCup crowd topped out at nearly 7,000 fans.

Though many of them were cheering Benton's car, most were on their feet for local star Stuart Ricks. And Ricks didn't disappoint for much of the night.

After starting 33rd, Ricks rambled all the way into fifth by Lap 90, but the Socastee driver lost a lap in the pits.

Ricks, driver of the No. 70 Bell & Bell Pontiac, made his way back on the lead lap, but eventually lost another lap in the pits and finished the night in 31st.

Joe Gaita followed Gordon and Ritch across the line to notch his best finish in 11 races.

"This is what the Odle Motorsports team needed," said Gaita, driver of the No. 42 U.S. Insurance Group Ford. "I really wish we could have won this race for them, but we're happy with third place. Maybe, we can keep this momentum up for the rest of the season."

Daniel Johnson, driver of the No. 16 Naturally Fresh Ford, picked up his best finish of the season by coming home sixth.

After winning the Advance Auto Parts Pole Award, Brad Rogers, driver of the No. 29 T.L. Hyman Properties Ford, finished seventh.

Mart Nesbitt, Mardy Lindley and Billy Bigley Jr. rounded out the top 10.

There were 10 lead changes among six drivers.

The race was slowed 10 times for 72 laps of caution.

The Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 presented by Black's Tire Service

Polar Opposites Benny Gordon's hard-charging style worked for him in the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250, but Michael Ritch took a different route to his second-place run.

"I've never drove a car so easy," said Ritch, driver of the No. 28 Jackaroo Pontiac. "I just can believe how much finesse you use at this racetrack. It felt like I was driving the car about 15 miles per hour."

Rogers' Refutation Clay Rogers, driver of the No. 44 Ultra Comp Trailers Ford, told himself going into the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 that he'd be happy with a top-five finish. That wasn't the case.

"I think we had better car than what we finished," said Rogers, who finished fifth. "I made a bad call on the last stop and put tire on the car that probably shouldn't have gone on the car. I told myself coming into the race I'd be happy with a top-five finish, but I guess I lied to myself."

Finally! After going through two engine problems during practice, it seemed David Pletcher, driver of the No. 51 Ford, was going to need Randy Humphrey's backup car for the third race in a row.

But after making a last-minute engine swap and taking a provisional starting spot, Pletcher started his own car shotgun on the field. Pletcher rallied to finished 14th after starting 38th and picked up $500 for being the Hard Charger.

Movers and Losers There were a lot of shakeups in the point standings at Myrtle Beach. Joe Gaita jumped from 21st to 12th with his third-place finish, and Michael Ritch went from 28th to 19th after finishing second.

D.J. Kennington dropped from 15th to 23rd after a crash relegated the Canadian to a 36th-place finish. Johnny Rumley dropped from eighth to 15th after falling out of the race on Lap 197 and finishing 32nd.


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Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , Billy Bigley , D.J. Kennington , Shane Huffman , Michelle Theriault , Johnny R