Huffman Wins No. 20, Passes Super Mario in Career Wins Myrtle Beach, SC-Shane Huffman's Knight's Racing team hauler features a Superman logo on its side. And, on Sunday afternoon at Myrtle Beach Speedway, the "Super" Huffman insignia took on a...
Huffman Wins No. 20, Passes Super Mario in Career Wins
Myrtle Beach, SC-Shane Huffman's Knight's Racing team hauler features a Superman logo on its side. And, on Sunday afternoon at Myrtle Beach Speedway, the "Super" Huffman insignia took on a historic meaning.
After pitting on Lap 201, Huffman chased down Clay Rogers, driver of the No. 44 Johnny's Suzuki/Baird Transport Ford, on Lap 227 and beat the defending Pro Cup champion by .640 seconds to win the Groucho's Deli 250 presented by Black's Tire Service. Huffman's win was his fifth of the season and his 20th Pro Cup win, moving him past "Super" Mario Gosselin for second place in all-time Pro Cup wins.
"This has just been a great year," said Huffman, driver of the No. 81 Knight's Companies Ford. "I just can't thank Pete and Bud Knight [Huffman's car owners] enough. Everybody's been working so hard, and it really shows. I really feel like we're on top of our game right now.
"It's pretty cool that we passed Mario for wins and tied him for poles this weekend. Twenty wins is big in any series, but it's especially big in a major touring series like this. I've got the best opportunity I've ever had here with Knight's Racing, and I'm having a blast."
And Huffman needed a late-race blast to pick up the win.
Using a different pit cycle than most of the field, Huffman radioed to his crew around Lap 180 that he needed a caution to take his final set of BFGoodrich Tires g-Force radials. On Lap 199, Huffman got the caution and came to pit road on Lap 201, giving up second place and falling to seventh for the restart on Lap 204.
But Huffman, on fresh tires, was running laps two tenths of second faster than Rogers once the green waved. Huffman blasted into third by Lap 210; however, he was still nearly two seconds behind Rogers and Toby Porter.
Huffman caught Porter, driver of the No. 13 Titan Industrial Ford, on Lap 220 to take over second. Seven laps later, Huffman cleared Rogers for the lead at the exit of Turn 4. Rogers moved up the track and badgered Huffman for several circuits after giving up the lead, but he was unable to force Huffman into a mistake.
"Our tires only had 18 laps on them when [Shane] came in and pitted, so I thought we would be in good shape," said Rogers. "It was kind of surprising that he made that run. I guess we just didn't get enough track position to hold him off. He did that same thing at Peach State, and he did it again here, so hats off to him."
But on Lap 31, Huffman looked like his helmet would be coming off early.
After leading the first 27 laps of the event, Huffman slowed coming off Turn 4, allowing Rogers to take the lead on Lap 28. Brad Rogers, younger brother of Clay Rogers, tagged the backstretch wall on following lap to bring out the second caution of the day. Huffman took the opportunity to come to the attention of his crew. Once the electrical problem was solved, Huffman rejoined the field in 27th.
With Huffman mired in traffic after the early-race stop, Rogers took control of the race, building leads of three seconds over Mark McFarland, driver of the No. 32 WINFUEL Chevy. McFarland would be the first of top five to dive onto pit road after a caution at Lap 62.
Rogers held the lead until coming to pit road for his first time on Lap 80. Most of the lead-lap cars, including Huffman, running 12th at the time, followed Rogers to pit road. Rogers' team put him out in front of the pitting cars, while Huffman exited eighth. Jason Sarvis, who moved from 13th to fourth by Lap 60, and Michael Faulk elected to wait and pit at a later time.
Sarvis, driver of the No. 16 Naturally Fresh Ford, took the lead on Lap 81 and held the lead for just six laps before McFarland's fresher tires proved too much. The JR Motorsports bypassed Sarvis and led the next 36 laps.
Sarvis and Faulk, driver of the No. 53 Liftoff by HerbaLife Ford, appeared to have a strategy that may pay off. With the ultra-abrasive surface at MBS, 10 tires were available for Pro Cup teams. Both drivers made their first stop of day on Lap 112, and both took just two tires, leaving them with four tires for a later stop. Unfortunately for Sarvis, he wouldn't be able to use his tires.
On Lap 146, Sarvis and George Brunnhoelzl III crashed coming off Turn 2, ending the day for both drivers.
"It just seems like every time we have a good run something happens," said Sarvis. "I was just racing hard, got a little loose off of [Turn] 2, and ran out of race track. The [No.] 20 car was there, and it was on from there. I'm pretty sure it was my fault, and I hate it for all our guys, but maybe we can turn it around."
While Sarvis' day headed the wrong way, Huffman's was headed in another other.
After the early, unscheduled stop, Huffman went from 27th to first in 96 laps. And, after his late-race stop at Lap 201, Huffman needed just 22 laps to return to point and set sail for his series-high fifth win of '05.
Rogers, who led 74 laps, held on to finish second and was followed closely by Porter.
Michael Ritch, driver of the No. 28 Jackaroo Ford, finished fourth and Mark McFarland rounded out the top five.
The Groucho's Deli 250 featured nine lead changes among six drivers and was slowed 12 times for 76 laps of caution.
Groucho's Deli 250 Notebook
Michael Faulk, driver of the No. 53 Liftoff by HerbaLife Ford, became the first rookie in the Southern Division to record three Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Awards this season.
Faulk, who finished ninth, picked up $1,000 via the Milwaukee brewer after edged out Justin Johnson, who finished 10th, and Wayne Willard, who finished 11th, at the finish of the Groucho's Deli 250.
Steve Wallace, driver of the No. 66 Blue Flame Authentics Dodge, led his first Pro Cup lap in the Groucho's Deli 250, but it was very bittersweet.
After Wallace, son of NEXTEL Cup star Rusty Wallace, made his way around Shane Huffman on Lap 186, he received the black flag. Apparently, after the pass, Wallace's car lost a seal on the rear end and began to soil the track, prompting a trip to pit road. Wallace was credited for leading Lap 186, but he never returned to the track and finished 23rd.
Back to Bristol
It had been since the Food City 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway that a Pro Cup driver had started from the pole and won. Ironically, it was Shane Huffman that completed the feat at Bristol, and he did it again on Sunday.
Huffman picked up an extra $500 for winning the Tucson "Win from The Pole" Award after winning the Groucho's Deli 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
In addition to winning Tucson's "Win from the Pole Award," Huffman walked away with $3,000 more in bonus bucks. Since qualifying was rained out, Huffman, the point leader at the time, won the $1,000 for being the Advance Auto Parts Pole Award recipient.
Huffman added another G-note for being the Lucas Oil Halfway Leader, $500 for winning the Greased Lighting "Blast the Pack Award" and $500 more as part of the Team Hooters Challenge after a lucky fan correctly selected Huffman to win the Groucho's Deli 250. Stacey Newman, of Conway, S.C., also received $500 for her correct conjecture.
Justin Johnson had never driven a Pro Cup car a week ago, but his top-10 finish in the Groucho's Deli 250 turned some head amongst the Pro Cup contingent. Johnson, driving the No. 15 Romeo Guest Construction Ford, ran as high as second in the car normally driven by Richard Landreth before dropping to 10th at the finish.
"I wanted more, but we're satisfied," said Johnson, a regular in Late Model Stocks in Virginia. "We ran out of tires right at the end. These cars have a lot more motor than a Late Model, but I thought we did pretty good for our first time. I'm hoping that we can run some more of these races. We'll see what happens."
Benny Gordon, driver of the No. 66n Predator Performance Ford, saw his three-race win streak at MBS snapped early in the Groucho's Deli 250. Gordon, who started 31st after the field was set by Southern Division points, was involved in an incident on the fifth lap and finished 35th.
Benny Gordon sits first in Northern Division points, while A.J. Frank, driver of the No. 45 American IronHorse Ford, is third. Both competed in the Southern Division race on Sunday afternoon at Myrtle Beach Speedway, and both drivers' cars received significant damage in during the Groucho's Deli 250 and face a quick turnaround this week.
"I don't know how bad the car is," said Frank, "but it's going to be a short, long week for us."
The Northern Division races again on Friday night at Kil-Kare (Ohio) Speedway.
Near the end of the Groucho's Deli 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway, Shane Huffman and Toby Porter may have experienced a bit of déjà vu.
Less than a month ago, Huffman and Porter battled to the finish of the rain- delayed Naturally Fresh 250 at USA Int'l Speedway on a Sunday afternoon. With 75 laps to go in the Groucho's Deli 250, the two waged war for the top spot on a Sunday afternoon, but the outcome wasn't as good for Porter.
"We were just holding on at the end," said Porter, who finished third. "We ran well, but our pit strategy didn't work out. We moved up to the high groove, and that helped. We just didn't have anything for Shane and Clay.
"But they say if you finish in the top three enough, you'll get your win. And I feel like our win isn't far away."
Time of Race: 2:10:06
Margin of Victory: .640 Sec.
Caution Flags: 12 for 76 Laps
Lead Changes: 9 Lead Changes Among 6 drivers
Lap Leaders: 1-27 Shane Huffman (123); 28-80 Clay Rogers (74); 81-86 Jason Sarvis (6); 87-122 Mark McFarland (36); 123-185 Shane Huffman; 186 Steve Wallace (1); 187-196 Shane Huffman; 197-206 Toby Porter (10); 207-227 Clay Rogers; 228-250 Shane Huffman.