Rogers Brothers on top at Beach Myrtle Beach, S.C.-The Aaron's 250 presented by Black's Tire & Auto Service at Myrtle Beach Speedway was supposed to be a battle of divisional rivals, but it turned into a sibling rivalry instead. Clay Rogers,...
Rogers Brothers on top at Beach
Myrtle Beach, S.C.-The Aaron's 250 presented by Black's Tire & Auto Service at Myrtle Beach Speedway was supposed to be a battle of divisional rivals, but it turned into a sibling rivalry instead.
Clay Rogers, driver of the No. 44 Automotive Development Group Ford, took the lead from Caleb Holman on Lap 211 and beat his younger brother, Brad, to the finish line by 5.548 seconds to win his third race of the season.
"I really wanted a 1-2 finish for us," said Clay Rogers. "Brad has had a tough stretch of races to start the season, so this is a great confidence builder for them."
It wasn't a bad night for Clay's ego, either.
After being roughed up by Benny Gordon a few weeks ago at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, Rogers out-performed Gordon, who had won four out of five races at Myrtle Beach Speedway over the last three years.
"Blake Bainbridge [Clay's crew chief] and this whole team keeps giving me good cars, nothing falls off of them and nothing breaks," said Rogers. "Having Blake lets me just get back to being a driver and not worry about the changes on the car."
The No. 44 Ford didn't appear to need many changes from the time it rolled onto MBS.
Rogers set quick time in practice and backed it up with this fifth Advance Auto Parts Pole of the season.
Shane Huffman, driver of the No. 88 Champion Chevrolet, started alongside Rogers on the front row and swept around the polesitter to lead the first lap, but Rogers came back to lead Lap 2. The pair would distance themselves from the pack and swap the lead four times in the first 50 laps of the race.
"I just wanted to lead a lap early and get the points, but Shane got a great run on the start and led the first lap," said Rogers. "I got back by on the second lap, and then we just played it like Peach State where we rolled out of the throttle and let him go when he wanted to go. Shane and I work well together and our spotters have good communication. We knew we had to make it 250 laps."
Knowing and doing are two separate things, and Huffman would find that out.
On the first pit stop of the night, Huffman's JR Motorsports crew was the first team to complete service, but the No. 88 was clipped by Joey Logano's car exiting pit road. Huffman stayed out at the moment, but under the next caution he returned to the service of his crew.
After the crew repaired the left front, Huffman was back in the pack when he was swept up in an eight-car pileup on Lap 91, ending his chance for the win.
The wreck also claimed several other contenders' cars as well. Jason Sarvis, Shane Wallace and Benny Gordon received damage in the accident.
"You hate to see that happen to those guys, because I know how hard you have to work to get these cars fixed," Rogers said of the wreck, "but it definitely changed our outlook on how we ran the race. We were willing to back off a little more."
After leading the majority of the first 100 laps, Rogers contently allowed Jeff Fultz, driver of the No. 54 C & C Boiler Pontiac, to take command of the race in the middle stages, saving his car for the final run.
"Jeff really wanted to lead this race, and I was more than happy to let him go," said Rogers. "I was just riding and saving my tires for the end of the race. I wasn't going to drop back past fourth, but I didn't mind not leading."
Fultz led from Lap 115 to 182 before giving way to Caleb Holman, who was blasting through the pack on fresh BFGoodrich Tires g-Force radials. Holman, driver of the No. 75 Food Country Chevrolet, began to pull away from the lead pack, but a caution on Lap 188 allowed Rogers and most of the lead lap cars to come to pit road.
Rogers, the '04 Pro Cup champion, had to restart the race in sixth behind cars that had pitted on an earlier stop, but he didn't waste any time blasting through the field.
In just 14 laps, Rogers slipped past Holman to take the top spot.
"With 50 laps to go, you just charge to the checkered," said Rogers. "Thank goodness there weren't any cautions there towards the end."
If there were caution, Rogers would have likely had to hold off his hard-charging brother.
Brad Rogers, driver of the No. 81n Knight's Companies Chevrolet, was knifing his way towards the front in final laps, making it to second position late in the going. But by that time, his older brother had checked out. Brad followed his older brother across the line to notch his first top-five finish of the season, albeit out of his division.
"Well, we're good in the Southern Division, now we have to run good in the North," said Brad. "I've just had the monkey on my back all season. Talking about being at the bottom of the barrel, that's what the first part of the season has been.
"This whole series is so tough. Everybody has good equipment, and the drivers are so awesome. If you're the least bit off, you're going to get beat. We've just had back luck this year; it's not that we haven't had good cars. This is a good finish for our team. Hopefully, we'll go to Lake Erie this week and be just as good."
Bobby Gill, driver of the No. 06 USG Sheetrock Brand Ford, was in the thick of the lead battle until fading late in the going, but the veteran still held onto to finish third, giving him four podium finishes in a row.
"We wore out the left rear probably worse than anybody did," said Gill. "We pulled a spring rubber out to make the left rear last longer because I knew I was going to have to run hard on that last run. After 40 laps of running hard, I was done. Those last 10 laps, I was on ice out there."
For the second race in a row, Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 29 McDonalds Ford, came home in fourth and picked up Miller Lite Rookie of the Race honors.
"We were worried and frustrated in practice," said Bayne, who needed a provisional to make the Aaron's 250. "We knew if we could just get in the show, we'd be good on the long runs. Everybody on this team stayed focused and fired up all day. We had some good pit stops and the car was just awesome on old tires."
Wayne Willard, driver of the No. 01 Bowen Family Homes Ford, kept his top-10 streak alive by coming home fifth. Willard hasn't finished outside the top 10 since the third race of the season.
Caleb Holman, Kirk Leone, Matt Carter, Jay Fogleman and Andrew Rogers completed the top 10.
The Aaron's 250 was slowed nine times for 60 laps of caution and featured 11 lead changes among six drivers.
Aaron's 250 Notebook
Benny Gordon started 13th in the Aaron's 250, and his night went downhill from there. Gordon pitted early to help his ill-handling No. 66 Predator Performance Ford, lost a lap and got a piece of the eight-car melee on Lap 91.
"I started 24th here last time and smoked them," said Gordon. "We just didn't have a good car at the get go. We pitted and started making a charge to the front then got wiped out. We got up in the top 10, and I really thought with a couple of changes that we could win. Then we got caught up in the pits and had to tear the nose off. Once we lost the nose, I had no chance. That's just the way it went."
There has been no shortage of verbal sparring between Clay Rogers and Benny Gordon throughout the season. Both drivers have needled each other relentlessly in the media and fought each other hard on the track. Then why was Gordon one of the first to congratulate Rogers on his win at Myrtle Beach?
"Benny is a hard racer, and he's got a different personality," said Rogers. "Benny just reminds me of Darrell Waltrip when he was winning championships. He's the guy that keeps the pot stirred and tries to get in people's heads. That's his thing. He came over and stuck his head in the window and congratulated me. When you do this kind of short-track racing, you can wreck a man anytime you want. You can't chase a championship and chase grudges at the same time."
Two-Cent Piece Costs Plenty
Joey Logano, driver of the No. 51 Joe Gibbs Performance Racing Oil Chevrolet, was in the thick of the chase until his car began to wisp smoke around the Lap 175. Eventually, Logano was black flagged as his car began to billow laps later. Logano went behind the wall on Lap 184 and finished 27th.
"It just stinks," said Logano. "A two-cent part cost us a shot at the win. We had a great car. When you have a car that can't run good, it's like, 'Oh, well.' But when you have a car that can win the race, it bites."
No Home Cooking
Jason Sarvis returned to action in the Aaron's 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway, but the former track and Pro Cup champion's homecoming was short-lived. Sarvis qualified seventh, but he suffered damage in the multi-car wreck and retired in 34th place.
"We had a good car, and we were just riding at the beginning, watching everybody else slip and slide," said Sarvis. "Then we had a caution and the left rear tire wouldn't build up air pressure. We pitted and found out it was going down, but we'd already made an adjustment to make the car tighter, so we had to come back in. Basically, that's how we got back there where the wreck happened. It's a shame, but I appreciate the opportunity Ricky Benton gave me tonight."
With his win in the Aaron's 250, coupled with Shane Huffman's misfortune, Clay Rogers moved back on top of the Southern Division Point standings. Rogers led the points for much of the season before Huffman took command with three wins in four races. Rogers now leads Huffman 1013 to 941 with five races remaining in the regular season.