Myrtle Beach, SC -- In a matter of seconds, the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway took a dramatic turn on Saturday night, literally. Shane Huffman, who led a race-high 243 laps, was less than a mile from his seventh win of...
Myrtle Beach, SC -- In a matter of seconds, the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway took a dramatic turn on Saturday night, literally.
Shane Huffman, who led a race-high 243 laps, was less than a mile from his seventh win of the season in Hooters ProCup action when he tangled with Benny Gordon heading into the first turn. Gordon made it out of Turn 1, but Huffman didn't. Huffman backed into the retaining wall and finished 28th.
Gordon held off Steve Christian during the ensuing green-white-checkered finish to pick up his second win in row and an $11,000 winners check.
``I felt like I was up to his door, and I never thought he would come down like that. I thought we would have touched and raced off of Turn 2,'' said Gordon. ``If he would have raced me off of two, he probably would have beaten me to be honest.'' Gordon may have been right.
Huffman dominated for most of the evening. At the start of the race, Huffman swept around the outside of the pole-sitter Jason Sarvis, who won $1,000 for winning the Advanced Auto Parts Pole Award, at the exit of Turn 2 and completed the pass down the backstreatch. Sarvis slid into second, but Gordon quickly took the position away as well.
By lap 15, Huffman had built over a one-second lead on Gordon and a two-second lead over Sarvis. Huffman continued to set a blistering pace in the early going, lapping nearly half the 40-car field by 50th circuit. Hal Goodson, a former track champion at MBS, was one of the cars to lose a lap early in the event and eventually finished in 31st.
Huffman's lead grew to four seconds over Gordon before the first caution flag waived at lap 63, erasing the comfortable advantage. But Huffman wasted little time getting it back.
Huffman cleared the lapped car of Eric Corbett on the restart and once again showed his dominance, pulling away from the Gordon and Sarvis by three-seconds in just 11-green flag laps. However, two quick cautions kept the field in touch with the Hickory, N.C. driver.
While Huffman was stretching large leads at the front of the field, several other driver were making time from the back of the pack.
Bobby Gill, who qualified 15th, moved into fifth by lap 95, and Danny O'Quinn moved up seven spots to third position. Meanwhile, Gordon and Sarvis were headed in the wrong direction, slipping to eighth and 12th, respectively, by the halfway mark.
Brian Ross and Joe Gaita brought out the fourth caution on lap 130, giving the leaders a chance make their pit stops.
Huffman surrendered the lead to Mike Laughlin, who elected to stay on the track as the leaders pitted, but the 2003 Southern Division champion would move back to the front of the field on lap 141.
Although Huffman made it quickly back to the front, he began look mortal for the first time in the evening. After retaking the lead, Huffman was unable to build the comfortable leads he held in the first part of the event.
Gill was the first driver to pressure the leader, shadowing Huffman for 10 laps before eventually fading back in the pack to a 7th-place finish.
Gordon took advantage of Gill's handling problems and moved into the second spot. The time Gordon spent getting around Gill allowed Huffman breathing room, but he slowly tracked down Huffman over 20 laps and finally made it to Huffman's bumper on lap 212. And the two would stay glued together for the next 48 laps.
"I was running the car hard trying to catch him in the last 20 laps,'' said Gordon. ``That last caution gave me a chance to cool my tires and make a run at him."
Gordon may not have been able to make that run had Huffman not lost traction coming to the green flag with three laps remaining.
After a late caution set up a green-white-checkered finish, Huffman didn't come up to speed coming to the green on lap 251, allowing Gordon to dive into the preferred line and sending Huffman into the outside wall.
It was Huffman's second finish in row outside the top 20. And, understandably, he refused to comment on the incident after the event. The contact with the wall in Turn 1 not only cost Huffman the race, but his points lead was narrowed to 12 points over Gordon, who moved from fifth to second in points with the win. Huffman wasn't the only favorite to end up in the Turn 1 wall, however.
Sarvis, who started from the pole, found the concrete on lap 239 after being swept into a crash in front of him. Sarvis finished 32nd.
Rookie Scott Baker finished third. Clay Rogers overcame a late-race spin to finish fourth. Jay Fogelman rounded out the top five.
Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 pres. by Black's Tire Service Notebook:
Fore! - The Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 was filled with pre-race pageantry, but there was one omission from the scheduled events. Skydivers David Lillico and Jamie Lynn were slated to land in Victory Lane at the conclusion of the national anthem. They landed, but not in the manner anyone anticipated.
The Cessna 182, piloted by Chuck Jacelon, flying the two skydivers to the drop zone was forced to make an emergency landing on the 14th hole of The Wizard golf course after experiencing engine problems. No one was injured. Lillico and Lynn did attend the race.
New Address - If you see Benny Gordon standing in line at the Jefferson, GA, Department of Motor Vehicles, don't be surprised. Gordon has two wins in the Championship Series, and they both came at his so-called home tracks. Gordon, who grew up in DeBois, PA, brought a large fan base to his first ProCup win at Jennerstown Speedway. Gordon now calls Ladson, SC, his home, and he didn't let down his new hometown fans at Myrtle Beach Speedway, treating them to his second win in a row.
Bowtie Brigade - In the first two Championship Series events, Jason McLellan's fourth-place finish at Winchester Speedway was the best finish by a Chevrolet. But that changed at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Steve Christian finished second in a Chevy, and Scott Baker, who finished third, followed him across the line in a Chevrolet. Danny O'Quinn finished sixth in his Chevrolet, and Jeff Agnew finished 10th in his, matching the total top-10 finishes by Chevy in the first two Championship Series events combined.
Knock, Knock... - Who's there? Gordon, Fogleman, Lindley and Agnew are. With Huffman's back-to-back letdowns, the top five in points are now separated by just 44 points heading to Peach State.