USAR: New River Valley: Race report

Benny Gordon Wins the Lucas Oil 250 Radford, VA - Benny Gordon took the lead away from Jay Fogleman with 40 laps to go and went on to pick up his first Northern Division win in the Lucas Oil 250 presented by Shelor Outdoor Motor Mile/Ranger...

Benny Gordon Wins the Lucas Oil 250

Radford, VA - Benny Gordon took the lead away from Jay Fogleman with 40 laps to go and went on to pick up his first Northern Division win in the Lucas Oil 250 presented by Shelor Outdoor Motor Mile/Ranger Boats at Motor Mile Speedway on Saturday night.

"This team keeps getting stronger and stronger," said Gordon, who has two second-place finishes and two wins in his last four starts. "We we're kind of behind the eight ball at the beginning of the season little bit because this is a brand-new team, but some of my guys have been with me for 10 or 12 years, and we have equipment second to none."

And Gordon needed every bit.

After Gordon bypassed Fogleman, driver of the No. 4 V2 Oil Ford, with 40 laps to go, the 2003 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year had to fret the final laps with a mirror full of Fogleman.

"I put together a series of five good laps to get by Jay," said Gordon, driver of the No. 66 Predator Performance Ford. "Our cars were very close. This place is so line temperamental, if you miss your line just a little bit, you lose ground. It was back and forth, but he raced me clean. And if you beat [Fogleman] here, you've really accomplished something."

Fogleman showed why he is so respected at MMS.

After starting the race 27th when qualifying was rained out, Fogleman, a Southern Division regular, charged through the field. By Lap 31, the Durham, N.C., driver moved all the way to 13th. Fogleman broke into the top 10 by Lap 50 and continued his spirited run towards the front.

Michael Ritch, driver of the No. 28 Jackaroo Pontiac, joined Fogleman in his charge, moving from 28th to 13th in the first 50 laps.

"Once the green dropped and Jay didn't pull away from us like I though he would, I knew we had a good car," said Ritch.

Jeff Agnew, driver of the No. 73 Hooters Golf Tour Chevy, also had a good car.

After starting third, the hometown hero needed just 12 laps to make his way to the front. Agnew, who has four track titles at MMS, started pressuring Johnny Rumley, driver of the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevy, for the lead on the eighth lap and cleared the point leader going down the backstretch on the 12th circuit.

From there, Agnew was able to take control of the race, keeping a half-second lead over second-place running Benny Gordon during the first 100 laps.

Agnew held the lead until Lap 120 when a rocker arm broke as the Floyd, Va., driver was coming to take the green flag after a caution period.

Agnew dropped from contention and eventually finished 23rd.

"Breaking rocker arms is pretty common right now," said Agnew. "The competition is so close right now, we're all trying to turn the motors so hard and get so much out of them that we're breaking them."

With Agnew in the pits, Joel Kauffman, driver of the No. 44 Chevy, made his way out front for the first time of the night.

By the halfway mark, Fogleman had moved into fourth and was just 2.51 seconds behind leader Kauffman, who was the only lead-lap car that had not yet visited pit lane.

Johnny Rumley moved around Kauffman, who picked up $1,000 for being the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader, on Lap 131 to take over the top spot, but Rumley's time out front would be short-lived as Fogleman completed his run from the back on Lap 170.

Gordon followed Fogleman past Rumley, driver of the No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevy, and set up the battle to the finish.

Evenly matched, Fogleman and Gordon stayed glued together for the remainder of the evening.

After losing the lead, Fogleman regrouped and made several attempts to retake the lead, but his bid for his second win at MMS was to no avail.

"We we're real leery about starting 27th, I almost packed the car up and went home," said Fogleman. "My car was really good on the long runs. But every time I got back to [Gordon], the caution would come out. When the last caution came out [with four laps left], I knew our shot [at winning] was gone."

Gordon held off Fogleman on the ensuing green-white-checkered finish by .492 seconds.

Michael Ritch rallied from his 28th-starting position to finish third, splitting the Hard Charger Award and $500 for advancing 25 positions during the Lucas Oil 250.

Rumley, who nabbed $1,000 for being the Advance Auto Parts Pole Award winner when the field was set by points, held on to finish fourth and his point lead. Mardy Lindley rounded out the top five in his No. 16 Hooters Air Ford.

Kyle Beattie finished ninth and picked up $1,000 for being the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race.

The race was slowed 13 times for 64 laps of caution.

There were six lead changes among five drivers.

Lucas Oil 250 Notebook

Beattie's Best

Kyle Beattie turned in the best showing of his brief ProCup career at MMS. Beattie, driver of the No. 12 Bojangles Chevy, notched his first top-10 finish in the Lucas Oil 250.

Beattie ran in the top five during the middle part of the race before eventually finishing a career-best ninth.

"I thought we had a fifth-place car, but we had some problems with some lapped traffic," said Beattie. "The team is getting better, and the more experience I get in these cars, we'll keep getting better."

Beast of Burden

After winning almost everything at MMS, Jeff Agnew is still looking for his first ProCup win at his home track. He appeared to be en route to his first win Saturday night, but the monkey showed up again.

"We've had a car here, at least four times, that should have won the race, but something silly ends up happening," said Agnew. "I believe there's a monkey waiting at the gate that jumps on our back when we walk through."

Agnew will have another chance at picking up a win at his home turf when the Hooters ProCup Series returns to MMS on Nov. 7 for a Championship Series event.

Pate Shows Promise

Jeremy Pates' first start of the season in the Hooters ProCup Series was a good one. Pate, who won the pole for the Snow Flurry 100 last season in Late Model action, drove the car usually piloted by Brandon Collins from 32nd to a 10th-place finish in the Lucas Oil 250. Pate was the last car on the lead lap.

Durable Danny

Danny Sammons, driver of the No. 97 Ford, cut a break line in practice and found the Turn 1 wall. Sammons' crew pulled the rear end out of his backup car and replaced it before the race.

During the race, Sammons had a shock come loose and had to wrestle his racer until a caution would allow the team to fix the problem. After fixing the shock, Sammons rambled to a sixth-place finish.

"[The team] just never gave up, today or any day," said Sammons. "At Kil-Kare most people didn't notice that we took four tires all in one stop and didn't get lapped. Everyone else took two and then returned to get the other two. Our guys don't get to practice, but they have all the heart in the world to do whatever is needed."

New Colors for Ross

Brian Ross made his first start for Premiere Motorsports on Saturday night. Ross, driver of the No. 68 N-ergy Beverage Ford, started eighth and finished eighth, but the Indiana driver believes better things are to come.

"This is something we can build off," said Ross. "This is the first time that we've raced together, and we just had a tight condition all day long. We had our hands full, but I have to thank Premiere Motorsports for the opportunity."


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Series Stock car
Drivers Brian Ross , Joel Kauffman , Johnny R , Jeff Agnew