USAR: Myrtle Beach CS: Race report

Rogers Wins Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 Hodgepodge Huddle Turning Pro Cup Upside Down Myrtle Beach, S.C.-They come from all walks of life, and there's no false pretense among them. They fight like bitter enemies, then bond like brothers.

Rogers Wins Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250
Hodgepodge Huddle Turning Pro Cup Upside Down

Myrtle Beach, S.C.-They come from all walks of life, and there's no false pretense among them. They fight like bitter enemies, then bond like brothers. Some come from the Busch Series, others from the Truck Series. But many come from other places, like regular jobs. They have no Cup affiliation or developmental contracts. They have each other, and that's all they need.

After three races in the Championship Series, they stood head-and-shoulders above the best teams in the Hooters Pro Cup Series, racking up six wins and a 103-point lead in points. But after the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway, they stood even taller-and more united-in Victory Lane.

Clay Rogers and his colorful clan beat the field off pit road on Lap 196 and led the final 60 laps en route to their third consecutive Championship Series victory and series-high seventh win of the season.

"That's three in a row, but we're going for that fourth in a row," said Rogers, driver of the No. 44s Automotive Development Group Ford. "I'm just unbelievably happy about the way this race team is working together. I've never seen a group of people come together the way they have. At the beginning of the year, they were fusing, fighting and ready to kill each other. Now, they'd take a bullet for each other."

Rogers' East Coast Motorsports teammates couldn't take a bullet for him down the stretch, but Rogers managed just fine by himself, surviving six restarts-and nemesis Benny Gordon-in the final 50 laps to take the 15th win of his Pro Cup career.

"You're always concerned on restarts," said Rogers. "I got my spotter to let me know what Benny was doing and I tried not to spin the tires. I've got an excellent Jim Cook transmission and Tex rear-end in this thing, so the driveline was the least of my worries. As soon as I got the tires hooked up, I just grabbed gears."

With each gear, Rogers was able to ease away from Gordon on the final restart of the night and cruise to the win by 1.020 seconds. But behind him, a battle erupted for second spot on the final lap, and a war erupted on the cool-down lap.

Woody Howard, driver of the No. 55n Dean Motorsports Chevrolet, hounded Gordon for the runner-up spot during the last 20 laps before slipping past at the finish line. After making up two laps during the night, Howard was more than ecstatic with the end result.

"Whew, I think we got Benny at the line," said Howard, who moved to second in points. "Our car just didn't work on the first set of tires for some reason. We put on the second set and the car was perfect. We're just really glad that we could show what the car was capable of there at the end. I never got to race with Clay, but I'm happy we were able to come back and finish second."

Behind Howard, there wasn't much joy being spread around.

Gordon, driver of the No. 66n Predator Performance Ford, had won four of the previous seven races at Myrtle Beach Speedway, but his third-place finish all but eliminated his title hopes.

"Clay's car was really good," said Gordon. "Mine was decent, just fast enough to get up there and race for the win. But his car was just better than mine.

"Towards the end, I was holding up Woody. He was beating on me, but I'm not mad at him. He finally moved me and got me there at the finish line. He did what he had to do, so I have no problems there."

But Gordon did take exception to being hit by Jeff Fultz on the cool-down lap.

Earlier in the event, Fultz, driver of the No. 54s C&C Boiler Pontiac, had moved into second place behind Rogers. But on Lap 209, Fultz spun coming off Turn 4 and dropped outside of the top five. After climbing back to fifth at the finish, Fultz exchanged not-so pleasantries with Gordon on the cool-down lap. From there, things heated up.

The two swapped paint all the way down pit road before coming to a stop. After the two teams were separated on pit road, different opinions emerged.

"He thinks I turned him, but I never turned him," said Gordon. "He crashed my car after the race and then he wanted to fight, then he didn't want to fight. I didn't do anything to him for him to smash me after the race."

Fultz had a different view.

"After the race, I got run into," said Fultz. "Then [Gordon] comes up to the car, and I hate what happened after that because that's not what we do; our team's not like that. We needed a good run because the last few weeks have been really stressful. We had a car that maybe could've won, but we got turned around. That's frustrates us, but we still had a good finish."

Despite the rough-and-tumble night, Fultz's fifth-place finish did earn him Miller Lite Rookie of the Race honors.

Sandwiched in between the feuding pair at the finish was Bobby Gill, driver of the No. 06s USG Sheetrock Ford. Gill led 22 laps during the early stages of the race, but the 3-time Pro Cup champ fell to sixth on the final pit stop and was only able to make up two spots before the checkered waved.

While the rest of the contenders continue to implode, Rogers and Co. continues to impress, proving that money can buy speed but chemistry wins championships.

Johnny Rumley, driver of the No. 80n Champion Spark Plugs Chevrolet, finished sixth; Dange Hanniford, driver of the No. 65s Mac Hill Motorsports Chevrolet, finished seventh; Jay Fogleman, driver of the No. 4s Greased Lightning Ford, finished eighth; A.J. Frank, driver of the No. 11n Ohio Technical College Pontiac, rallied from his 34th-place starting spot to finish ninth; and Jody Lavender, driver of the No. 84s H&R Block Ford, rounded out the top 10.

The Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 featured 11 lead changes among 11 drivers and was slowed 14 times for 83 laps of caution.

Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 Notebook

Happy Birthday

Debunking speculation that Myrtle Beach Speedway is for sale, Billy Hardee, MBS co-owner, is prepping for the speedway's 50th birthday in 2007.

"We're hoping for bigger and better things," Hardee said. "We're definitely going to try to do something special with it being the 50th year."

The Hooters Pro Cup Series will return to the historic, D-shaped oval on June 23 and Oct. 7 next season.

Perfect Present

Prior to the running of the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway, Naturally Fresh ® donated more than $1,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation through the raffling off of an autographed Michael Waltrip Aaron's Dream Machine helmet.

Wednesday on the Couch

The Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 will air on Wednesday, Nov. 1 at 4 p.m. on SPEED Channel, giving Pro Cup fans a chance to see the real story behind the post-race melee between Gordon and Fultz. If you can't catch the race on Wednesday, SPEED Channel will re-air the race Friday at noon.

Tight Quarters

While the overall point battle may be a little anticlimactic, the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year battle is tight, real tight. Justin Hobgood, driver of the No. 16s Naturally Fresh Ford, still holds down the top spot for the $40,000 top prize, but Derek Kale is closing in.

Kale, driver of the No. 22n Heritage Equipment Chevrolet, posted his fourth top-15 finish in the Championship Series and moved to within six points of Hobgood, who finished 21st.

In and Out

Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 29s McDonald's Ford, had a top-five car all night at Myrtle Beach Speedway. Problem was Bayne, who led four laps, never came out of the pits where he came in.

Bayne entered the pits third on Lap 91 and exited 11th. After moving inside the top 10, Bayne left pit road in 14th on the final stop of the night. The 15-year-old driver finished 13th.

Again and Again

Shelby Howard, driver of the No. 20n Speedco/Tony Stewart Racing Pontiac, had a 250-lap race to compete in on Saturday, and then he had to do it again.

Howard competed in the Busch Series race in Memphis, hopped a plane and made it in time to start the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway. But Howard's double dip wasn't quite the performance he'd envisioned.

Howard finished 40th after suffering a mechanical failure in the Busch race and finished 21st at MBS.

-credit: usar

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Clay Rogers , Trevor Bayne , Shelby Howard , Jeff Fultz , Jody Lavender , Justin Hobgood , A.J. Frank , Johnny R