Shane Huffman Wins Aaron's 250 Jefferson, GA-If you've ever flopped a full house of Kings over Aces only to have them topped by Aces over Kings, you know how the rest of the field felt at Peach State Speedway on Saturday night. In one of the...
Shane Huffman Wins Aaron's 250
Jefferson, GA-If you've ever flopped a full house of Kings over Aces only to have them topped by Aces over Kings, you know how the rest of the field felt at Peach State Speedway on Saturday night.
In one of the best poker moves in Hooters Pro Cup history, Shane Huffman dropped to the tail end of the lead lap and rode until it was time to go. And on the ultra-abrasive surface of Peach State Speedway, Huffman's move was good enough to take the $10,000 pot in the Aaron's 250 presented by Lucas Oil Products.
After catching a timely caution, Huffman went from ninth-and nearly a lap down-to first in 41 laps and beat Clay Rogers to the finish by 1.5 sec. to take his third win of the season.
"We slowed down two seconds on the first run, because we we're spinning the tires off the corners," said Huffman, driver of the No. 81 Knight's Companies Ford. "We got blocked in on our pit stop and lost a few spots. I told the guys that we'd just drop to the back and not spin the tires the rest of the race. We were waiting until about 50 or 60 laps to go, and, fortunately, things went our way."
Shane Wallace and Rogers appeared to have things going their way until Huffman made his late-race charge.
Rogers, driver of the No. 44 Johnny's Suzuki/Baird Transport Ford, started second, but he was able to slip past Mark McFarland, who started from the Advance Auto Parts Pole, on Lap 3. Rogers led the next 87 laps before Mike Garvey, Toby Porter and Mark McFarland exchanged the lead from Lap 90 to 115.
McFarland, driver of the No. 32 WINFUEL Chevy, was the first car off pit lane during the cycle of pit stop, but Rogers needed just one lap to return to the point.
After an early-race spin, Wallace, who started 13th, made his presence known on Lap 141, when he passed Rogers for the lead. After taking the lead, Wallace pulled out to leads of over two seconds on Rogers. But his torrid pace may have cost him.
On Lap 200, Wallace began to come back to the field, and Rogers retook the lead on Lap 212. From there, Rogers looked to be en route to his first win of the season, but Huffman had other ideas.
After a restart on Lap 219, Huffman needed just four laps to move to the point, and all Rogers could do is watch as the Hickory, N.C., driver pull away for his third win in four races.
"Shane won this race because he had a different agenda than we had," said Rogers, who led a race-high 119 laps. "We had to gain points on him, and all he had to do is ride. We had to lead those laps. We had to get those bonus points. We had to lead at halfway. Our position in points probably cost us tonight, because we couldn't afford to ride that much. I think we gained points on everyone but Shane. That's all right, we're going to Concord next, and they better watch out for us."
While Rogers watched Huffman slide past late in the going, Wallace saw a host of drivers blast past after giving up the lead with 38 laps remaining.
"We got out about 15-car lengths ahead of Clay, and we never really pushed the issue," said Wallace, who dropped from first to eighth in the final laps. "Once we had the first caution, our car started to back up. I think the tires went through a heat cycle, and it really hurt us. I don't know what happened to the car. Maybe, it was my fault and I just burnt the tires off, but they knew we were there tonight."
Despite where they finished, everyone also knew that Toby Porter and Mike Garvey were on the track.
After babying the tires for much of the first half of the event, Garvey, driver of the No. 17 Jani-King Ford, rocketed past Rogers on Lap 91. After leading 17 laps, Garvey gave way to Porter, driver of the No. 13 Titan Industrial Ford, on Lap 108. Porter led the lead-lap cars to pit road, but the Greenville, S.C., driver returned to the track in third after the leaders cycled through their pit stops, but Garvey wasn't as fortunate.
Three laps elapsed before Garvey's team was able to send him on his way after a battery cable disconnected during the stop. Though Porter rejoined the field for the restart, his luck would change on Lap 199 after cutting down a right-front tire. Porter lost two laps during the green-flag stop and dropped from contention.
While two contenders fell by the wayside, several drivers joined Huffman and Rogers near the front for the final circuits.
After two spins and an unscheduled pit stop, Randy Gentry, driver of the No. 19 HarrisonsWorkwear.com/Georgia Boot Chevy, vaulted back from adversity and picked up his best finish of the season by coming home third.
"I had to come from the back twice tonight," said Gentry. "We had too much tape on the grill at the start, and the temperature got up to 230 [degrees], so we had to come in. I made my way back to the front, but a lap car checked us up, and I got turned around. Then, the [Mark McFarland] turned us around. I congratulate Shane [Huffman] and Clay [Rogers] but barring getting turned around at the end, I felt like I had to the car to win the race tonight."
Jay Fogleman, driver of No. 4 Lucas Oil Ford, also felt like he had a car capable of winning the race.
Fogleman qualified eighth and ran into the top-10 the entirety of first 100 laps. But during his pit stop, Fogleman lost a lap. The Durham, N.C., driver was able to make his lap up late in the race and rallied to a fourth- place finish.
"I didn't think we'd be able to make our lap up, but we made some good adjustments during the pit stop," said Fogleman. "We've made some gains in our team in the last couple of races, and I think it's starting to show. I feel like we had a car that could have won here tonight."
Michael Faulk, driver of the No. 53 LIFTOFF by HerbaLife Ford, also continued his climb towards contention in the Aaron's 250. Faulk, whose previous best finish was 10th, picked up a fifth-place finish at Peach State Speedway.
"I feel like our first win is coming," said Faulk, who took over the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year standings. "I felt like we had a car that could win tonight, but we got caught in some traffic. I was quicker than the leaders at the end, but it just didn't work out tonight. We got a good top-five finish, and we'll keep plugging away."
The Aaron's 250 was slowed eight times for 47 laps of caution and featured 11 lead changes among six drivers.
Aaron's 250 Notebook
Truthful Answers In the age of PR-speak, it's good to hear an honest answer once in a while. And Jake Hobgood, driver of the No. 64 Hobgood Motorsports Ford, gave one after winning the Mr. Gasket Hard Charger Award in the Aaron's 250.
"I won Hard Charger, no way," said Hobgood. "I guess there's one benefit in qualifying bad. Well, at least we won something."
The Tale of Two Halves On the surface, Matt Carter, driver of No. 22 HeavyTruckDealers.com Ford, finished the Aaron's 250 in sixth position, narrowly missing his third top- five finish of the season. In reality, Carter looked to have a car capable of winning the Aaron's 250 in the first half of the event. Near the 100-lap mark, Carter was nearly 2 tenths of a second quicker than the field.
"This car was awesome in the first half," said Carter. "We made a slight adjustment on the pit stop, but it shouldn't have made it drive like it did in the second half of the race. I think we may have broken a shock, but two fourths and a sixth in four races isn't a bad way to start the season."
Skipping a Grade Ken Butler III hasn't had much experience in Pro Cup style cars, but the Michael Waltrip Racing driver is making steady gains in his No. 99 Aaron's "Dream Machine" after jumping from the Aaron's Pro Challenge Series to the Hooters Pro Cup Series.
At Peach State Speedway, Butler picked up his best finish of the season by coming home 13th.
"I kind of skipped a grade by moving up to the Hooters Pro Cup Series, but I think my comfort level is better now," said Butler. "I've learned so much by following the fast cars. Johnny Allen [Crew Chief] has preached that to me, and he's the reason I'm getting better."
Good Points Night When Clay Rogers says that he had a good points night in the Aaron's 250, believe him. Although Rogers missed out on his first win of the season, the defending Pro Cup champ picked up five points for leading the most laps and five points for leading at halfway.
Combined with his second-place finish, Rogers jumped to second place in the Southern Division point standings.
In addition, Rogers took home an extra $500 for winning the Greased Lightning "Blast the Pack" Award for leading the most laps and an extra $1,000 for being the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader.