USAR: South Boston II: Race report

Woody Howard Wins Lucas Oil 250 South Boston, VA-After two road wins, Woody Howard finally found his form at home. Howard, driver of the No. 55 Dean Motorsports Chevy, took the lead away from Mardy Lindley on Lap 198 of the Lucas Oil 250 ...

Woody Howard Wins Lucas Oil 250

South Boston, VA-After two road wins, Woody Howard finally found his form at home.

Howard, driver of the No. 55 Dean Motorsports Chevy, took the lead away from Mardy Lindley on Lap 198 of the Lucas Oil 250 presented by Dollar General at South Boston Speedway and survived a green-white-checkered finish en route to his third win of the season and second in as many races.

With his win, Howard, a former South Boston regular, became the first rookie driver in the history of the Hooters Pro Cp Series to win three races in one season. Brian Vickers and Benny Gordon both won twice in their rookie seasons.

"When the season started, I wasn't even thinking about any record; I was working so hard to get everything ready to race," said Howard. "But after the first race of the season, I felt like I could win some races. I don't think we thought we could win three, though. I've got great car owner in Jim Dean, and my team has been working hard. Our goal was to win the rookie of the year, but now we're thinking about the championship."

Mardy Lindley is also thinking about the championship. Lindley, driver of the No. 16 Hooters Air Ford, finished second to Howard, but he made a huge gain on point leader Benny Gordon, who experienced rear-end problems on his No. 66 Predator Performance Ford and finished 24th.

"We're gaining some momentum at the right time of the year," said Lindley, who finished second for the second week in a row. "Woody kind of snookered us and jumped to the high side of the track. I didn't know you could run up there, and he got by us. Once we got up top, we started to run him down, but the cautions killed us at the end."

The cautions also killed the hopes of many other contenders.

Jeff Agnew, driver of the No. 73 NGA Hooters Golf Tour Ford, battled into contention late in the race, moving from 10th to third with 25 laps remaining.

While battling for second, Lindley and Agnew tangled on Lap 230. The contact sent Agnew spinning in Turn 2. But that was just the beginning of the bad luck for Agnew.

With two laps remaining, Agnew tousled with Jay Fogleman for third. Agnew's car broke loose and pounded the frontstretch wall. The accident collected Joe Gaita, A.J. Frank and Gary St. Amant. Frank and St. Amant continued on, but Agnew and Gaita were finished for the night.

"I just hate that me Jeff got together," said Fogleman, who came home third in his out-of-division start. "I don't know how he got in the wall, but he came back across my nose and there was absolutely nothing I could do. They're points racing, and the last thing I wanted to do was wreck one of their cars. I know Jeff doesn't want to listen to anything I have to say, but I didn't intentionally wreck him."

While many of the contenders were taken out by the late-race melee, L.W. Miller and Lonnie Rush Jr. used the opportunity to notch career-best finishes.

After qualifying seventh, Miller, driver of the No. 19 Boston Lumber Co. Pontiac, came home fourth in his second Pro Cup start

"Our car was great on old tires," said Miller. "We went out early in qualifying, and that kind of hurt us. But for our second race, that was a great run. We've been working our butts off on this deal, and I can't thank everyone that helps me out enough."

Rush Jr., driver of the No. 71 Ray Skillman Auto Chevy, rounded out the top five.

"We're tenacious," said Rush, who has posted three top-10 finishes in a row. "Ray Skillman has given us good equipment and supported us so much this season. We're working hard, and it's starting to payoff. Luck had to go our way tonight for us to get this finish, but it's gone against us the other races this year."

Benny Gordon's luck ran out early in the Lucas Oil 250.

On Lap 61, the Northern Division point leader was running a close second to race-leader Woody Howard when his car began to slow. Gordon's Predator Performance teammates pushed his car behind the wall on Lap 64 to make repairs to the ailing machine, but it took 84 laps for Gordon to return to the field. With his misfortune, coupled with Lindley's second-place finish, Gordon's point lead is now only 35 points over Lindley.

Gary St. Amant, who went into the Lucas Oil 250 third in points, trimmed 41 points off Gordon's point lead with his eighth-place finish, but the driver of the No. 11 Chevy dropped to fourth in points due to Howard jumping from fifth to third in points with his win. St. Amant did pick up the Mr. Gasket Hard Charger Award and $500 for advancing 17 positions during the race.

Howard added $3,000 in bonus money to his night. Howard received $1,000 for his first Advance Auto Parts Pole Award of the season, another $1,000 for his third Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Award, $500 via the Tucson Win from the Pole Award and $500 more courtesy of the Greased Lightning "Blast the Pack" Award for leading the most laps. Howard led a race-high 149 laps.

Joe Gaita, driver of the No. 46 US Insurance Group Ford, picked up $1,000 for the being the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader. Gaita led 40 laps before being involved in accident late in the race, dropping him to 19th at the finish.

The Lucas Oil 250 featured three lead changes among three drivers and was slowed nine times for 66 laps of caution.

Lucas Oil 250 Notebook

Blast from the Past
Chuck Bown made his first start of the season in the Lucas Oil 250 as South Boston Speedway. Fifteen years ago, Bown went to Victory Lane at SoBo during his Busch Series championship run. Bown, driver of the No. 61 Ford, finished 13th at South Boston this time around.

Home-Field Advantage
Woody Howard, driver of the No. 55 Dean Motorsports Chevy, led the first 90 laps of the Lucas Oil 250. But with 75 laps remaining, the former SoBo regular was loosing ground to race-leader Mardy Lindley. Howard relied on some local knowledge to make up the lost ground and retake the lead.

"I had talked to some of my buddies that race down here and I had read some of the write-ups about the races here this season," Howard said. "I knew that some people had won some races this year by running that high line.

"I knew I didn't have any other choice," Howard added. "I wasn't going to get by Mardy any other way. The car wouldn't turn on the bottom of the track when I was behind him. I found some grip up there on the high side, and I have to thank Mardy, he drove me clean."

Tempers Flare
With just two races remaining in the Northern Division season, every position on the track was hotly contested in the Lucas Oil 250, which led to plenty of bent sheet metal and flared tempers.

A.J. Frank and Shelby Howard continued their season-long feud on Lap 156. Frank punted Howard at the exit of Turn 2. Howard gouged Frank after righting his machine. Mardy Lindley and Jeff Agnew went after each other late in the race while battling for second. Agnew tangled with Jay Fogleman late in the race.

Old Faithful Fails
Joey Logano bent up his new car testing at South Boston Speedway prior to the running of the Lucas Oil 250. Logano Motorsports broke out the car tabbed "Old Faithful" on Saturday. Unfortunately for Logano, Old Faithful spewed fluid on the track on Lap 127 after losing an engine. Logano finished 27th.


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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Shelby Howard , Brian Vickers , Joey Logano , A.J. Frank , Jeff Agnew