Benny Gordon Wins Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 Myrtle Beach, SC-Nestled right around the bottom of Myrtle Beach Speedway (MBS) is a six-foot wide patch of aging asphalt that Benny Gordon knows well. Many drivers can't use it, but Gordon calls...
Benny Gordon Wins Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250
Myrtle Beach, SC-Nestled right around the bottom of Myrtle Beach Speedway (MBS) is a six-foot wide patch of aging asphalt that Benny Gordon knows well. Many drivers can't use it, but Gordon calls it home. And it showed in the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 presented by Black's Tire Service at Myrtle Beach Speedway on Saturday night.
Using the local line, Gordon, driver of the No. 66n Predator Performance Ford, started 20th in the 35-car field, moved to the point on Lap 92 and led a race-high 153 laps en route to his sixth win of the season.
"If I miss by a foot, I'll have a bad lap," said Gordon, who learned the line after years of competing at MBS in the All-Pro Series and a touring Super Truck division. "You've just got to be patient and hit your marks. It's a hard thing to learn. Around here, you've got to go slow to go fast."
But Gordon wasn't the only one on the Predator Performance team that was fast on Saturday night, his pit crew showed plenty of speed as well.
After starting 20th, Gordon may his way to ninth by the time the lead-lap cars came to pit road on Lap 90. Gordon's Predator Performance teammates sent the Dubois, Pa., driver off pit road with the lead.
"The pit stop was unbelievable," said Gordon, who won for the fourth time in five races at MBS. "To come in ninth and go out first was huge. I can't thank them enough."
But it wouldn't be the final time of the night that Gordon's crew performed well under the gun.
After a lengthy, green-flag run, Gordon was tracked down by Gary St. Amant on Lap 188. St. Amant, driver of the No. 11n JEGS.com Chevy, swept around the outside of Gordon on Lap 190 to take the point. St. Amant's lead would be short-lived, however.
On Lap 192, Shane Huffman, driver of the No. 81s Knight's Companies Ford, looped his car down the front straightway to bring out the third caution of the night. St. Amant led the leaders down pit road, but Gordon would again lead the pack back to the track after quick work by his pit crew.
St. Amant lined up second for the restart on Lap 201, but the short-track legend wouldn't be fighting with Gordon over the final 50 laps. St. Amant, needing long green-flag runs to flex his muscle, watched as three cautions slowed the race in the final 50 laps and Jeff Agnew slid past to take second.
"It's real hard to settle for a third-place finish when we had such a great racecar," said St. Amant. "To drive by Benny [Gordon] like that on a long green-flag run, I felt like we had a car that could have won."
Jeff Agnew, driver of the No. 73n NGA Hooters Golf Tour Ford, appeared to have a car that could win as well.
After taking over second on Lap 222, Agnew stayed glued to the rear-deck lid of Gordon for the final 28 laps, but the Floyd, Va., driver couldn't root Gordon from the sweet spot.
"Benny has run here for years, and that helps him," said Agnew. "The rest of us haven't run here enough to get a good grip on this place. If you get him out of that groove he runs, then you've got a chance. But if he gets in that line, then it's 'Katie bar the doors.'"
Gordon's win pushed his point lead to 53 points over Gary St. Amant with two races remaining the Championship Series. However, in the first half of the event, it appeared the already-tight point race would be even closer after leaving Myrtle Beach.
While Gordon started 20th, many of his closest competitors started near the front of the field.
Clay Rogers, the 2004 Hooters Pro Cup champion, started second and blasted around Shane Wallace, the Advance Auto Parts Pole Award winner, on the fourth lap. Besides a brief stint out front by his teammate, A.J. Frank, Rogers dominated the first 100 laps, leading 75 laps and building leads of nearly five seconds over Frank.
Shane Huffman, who came into the race 10 points behind Gordon, ran third for much of the first 75 laps before fading seventh by Lap 85. But that would be as good as Huffman's night would get.
After pitting on Lap 90, Huffman's car slid around on the weathered MBS surface during the middle stages of the race, dropping him from the lead lap and causing him to spin on Lap 192. Huffman regrouped to finish 12th, but the 2003 champion dropped to fifth in the points, 82 behind Gordon.
Like Huffman, Rogers and Frank struggled after the first round of pit stops and lost laps on the ensuing 102-lap, green-flag run, dropping them to 11th and 14th, respectively, at the finish.
While some drivers faded after the making pit stops, others rallied to secure solid finishes.
Bobby Gill, driver of the No. 06s USG Sheetrock Brand Ford, lost a lap during middle stages of the race, but the 3-time Pro Cup champ made up his lap and charged back to finish fourth, keeping his hopes of a fourth title alive.
Brad Rogers started 30th in the No. 22s Black's Tire Service Ford, made steady gains all night and finished fifth. In doing so, Rogers picked up $500 for being the Mr. Gasket Hard Charger Award winner.
"I'm just very, very, very happy with the way we're running," said Rogers, who jumped to 12th in the points. "This is just our fourth race together, and we've got three top-10 finishes and two top-five finishes. We need to qualify a little bit better, but I can't thank Mike Hester and Ricky Benton enough for this opportunity. We've got to find a little bit, and then we'll get one of these races."
Matt Carter, Joe Gaita, Joey Logano, Mart Nesbitt, Joey Logano, and Jody Lavender rounded out the top 10.
The Mark Brook Memorial Bi-Lo 250 featured eight lead changes among six drivers and was slowed six times for 37 laps of caution.
Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 Notebook
Despite losing 80 points in the overall point race, Woody Howard, driver of the No. 55n Dean Motorsports Chevy, retained the lead in the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year standings with his 15th-place finish.
Joey Logano, driver of the No. 51n Joe Gibbs Performance Racing Oil Ford, finished eighth in the Mark Brook Memorial Bi-Lo 250 and grabbed $1,000 for being the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race.
"It was rough night for us," said Logano, who trails Howard by 56 points. "We were caught down a lap on the first run, but we got four tires, got by Benny Gordon and got our lap back.
"Then, we burnt a plug wire off, so our car was junk on new tires. But once we got some laps on the car, I could hold the car wide open while the other guys were half-throttle. Our crew did a good job tonight, and I'm happy to get out of here with an eighth-place finish."
Michael Faulk, driver of the No. 53s LiftOff Ford, finished 28th, but still holds down the second spot in the ROTY race, 53 points behind Howard.
It's usually about November that Northerners make the trek to Myrtle Beach for the mild South Carolina winters and hospitality of the Grand Strand. But the Northern Division of the Hooters Pro Cup Series got the migration started two weeks early.
Of the top-10 finishers in the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250, sixth of them hailed from the Northern Division, including a podium sweep.
Before the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250, Benny Gordon joked about qualifying 20th, saying, "I just wanted to get the extra points for winning the [Mr. Gasket] Hard Charger Award, leading the most laps and at halfway."
Well, he almost did.
Gordon picked up five points for leading a lap, five for leading at halfway and five more for leading the most laps. In addition to the points, Gordon won $500 from Greased Lightning for being the "Blast the Pack" recipient and $1,000 for being the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader.
Gordon would have needed to start 27th to take home the Mr. Gasket Hard Charger Award.
First to Worst
Michael Ritch, driver of the No. 28s Jackaroo Ford, was unable to keep the momentum going from his win at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway.
Ritch dropped from the pace on Lap 83 and finished last in the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 at MBS.
Matt Carter, driver of the No. 03s LCT/Titan Industrial Ford, is a quiet, unassuming figure in the Pro Cup garage, but he's quickly becoming a silent assassin.
For the third race in a row, Carter knocked out a top-10 finish and sits fourth in points, 75 behind Gordon.
"We had the best pit stop we've had all year," said Carter, who finished sixth. "We just got the car way too tight. We lost some points to Gordon, but it wasn't a bad night."