Lindley Wins Lucas Oil 250 South Boston, Va.--Saturday night at South Boston Speedway, it was a familiar site in the racing world: a Lindley driving No. 16 and ending the night in victory lane. Following in his father's footsteps, Mardy...
Lindley Wins Lucas Oil 250
South Boston, Va.--Saturday night at South Boston Speedway, it was a familiar site in the racing world: a Lindley driving No. 16 and ending the night in victory lane.
Following in his father's footsteps, Mardy Lindley piloted his No. 16 Hooters Air Ford to victory in the Lucas Oil 250 presented by Virginia Is For Lovers. Lindley led a race-high 221 laps--and rookie Gary St. Amant--en route to his eighth win in the Hooters ProCup Series and his first since switching to the No. 16 that his father, Butch Lindley, drove to Grand National titles in 1977-78.
"I was about my son's age when I used to sit here and watch my dad run the No. 16," said Lindley with his son, Cole, standing at his side. "It was great to win with that number again."
And it didn't take long for the No. 16 to get to the front.
The Taylors, S.C., swept around the outside of pole sitter Johnny Rumley in Turn 1 of the opening lap and pulled away in the first seven circuits. Rumley began to reel in Lindley by Lap 20, but was unable to pull even.
Jeff Agnew, driver of the No. 73 NGA/Hooters Golf Chevrolet, and Joel Kauffman, driver of the No. 44 Sponsor Needed Chevrolet, were running third and fourth, respectively, during the first 20 laps and were able to keep pace with the lead duo. Lindley caught a pack of traffic at Lap 30, allowing Rumley, Agnew and Kauffman to close on the leaders and making it a four-car battle for the lead.
With the blistering pace being set by the lead foursome, many drivers were struggling to stay on the lead lap.
Benny Gordon, driver of the No. 66 Predator Performance Ford, started third in the 32-car field, but the DuBois, Pa., driver was forced to make an unscheduled stop on Lap 9 after pushing his grill in during opening laps. Gordon was just car lengths from being lapped when the race's second caution waved at Lap 49.
On Lap 79, the lapped car of Billy Mowery triggered a multi-car accident that collected three drivers running in the Top 10.
Mart Nesbitt, driver of the No. 92 Blue Cross Blue Shield Ford, Eric Corbett and St. Amant all received damage from the incident, but they were able to continue.
There were five cautions in the first 100 laps, but Lindley was able to keep Rumley at bay on each restart and built leads of up to two seconds over the field.
However, as the race neared halfway, Rumley, driver of the No. 8 Lucas Oil Ford, started to chop down Lindley's lead. When the leader caught a pack of traffic on Lap 121, Rumley made his move, sliding to the inside of Lindley and taking over the point.
Rumley's move came just in time for him to pick up $1,000 for being the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader.
"The car was good at that point," said Rumley. "It seemed that I could get off the corner better than Mardy. [Mardy] still had a good car, but we were just a little bit better."
Rumley held the lead until Lap 139, when he was accessed a stop-and-go penalty for contact with Danny Sammons.
"Anytime your at South Boston, there is going to be some action," said Rumley. "There's going to be some people turned around and some feelings hurt. My feelings aren't hurt, but I disagree with the call."
Benny Gordon, driver of the No. 66 Predator Performance Ford, inherited the lead after Rumley rolled to pit road. During the caution, most of the lead-lap cars came in for service.
Lindley restarted third behind Gordon and Gary St. Amant, driver of the No. 11 Jegs Mail Order Chevy, who both pitted under an earlier caution.
Lindley blasted past St. Amant after the restart and made his way around Gordon, who led 11 laps, on Lap 151. St. Amant followed Lindley through--and just in time.
On Lap 163, Kertus Davis, running fourth, and Gordon tangled while battling for position, igniting a 10-car melee that brought out a red flag 16 minutes. Rumley and Eric Corbett, driver of the No. 75 Larry & Sons Ford, received the brunt of the accident. Rumley. Corbett would need a wrecker to tow his car to pit road, while Rumley was able to limp in for service.
Once the race restarted, Lindley picked up where he left off in the first half, building comfortable leads over second-place running St. Amant.
"The car got a little tight in the first half of the race," said Lindley. "On the pit stop, we took four tires and made a little air pressure adjustment. The car took off from then on."
But it wasn't a joy ride in the final 50 laps for Lindley as two cautions bunched the field for restarts in the final 50 laps, and gave the crafty St. Amant chances to pressure Lindley into a mistake.
The last caution, which waved at Lap 216, enabled St. Amant to make a last-ditch effort to make his way around Lindley. St. Amant pulled to the inside of Lindley entering Turn 1 on Lap 221, but Lindley weathered the storm and beat St. Amant to finish line by .563 seconds.
"Honestly, we felt like we could come out of here with a top-five finish, but this is better than I expected," St. Amant said of his first ProCup start. "Track position was key out there. [Rumley's penalty] helped us...and I feel very fortunate to get a runner-up finish."
St. Amant's second-place finish netted the Ohio driver an extra $1,000 for being the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race.
Rumley rebounded from the mid-race contact to finish third. Jeff Agnew finished fourth and D.J. Kennington rounded out the top five.
Greg Van Alst, driver of the No. 35 ASTA Pontiac, won $500 for advancing 15 spots during the race and picking up the Hard Charger Award.
The race was slowed 10 times for 63 laps of caution.
LUCAS Oil 250 Notes and Quotes
In the last race at South Boston, Mart Nesbitt and Michael Ritch, moonlighting from the Southern Division, took the top two spots. Saturday night at SoBo, five Southern Division drivers crossed over for the event, but their fortunes were not as good as last year.
Nesbitt, who ran as high as third, was the top finisher from the South, placing seventh.
"We had a lapped car take us out," said Nesbitt, who won the event in 2003. "It didn't do any structural damage, but it tore the car up pretty bad.'
Michael Ritch, driver of the No. 28 Jackaroo Sauces Dodge, and Jay Fogleman, driver of the No. 4 V2 Oil Ford, both made strong runs into the Top 10 but ended the night with mechanical failures.
Their numbers stayed the same, but the cars of Danny Sammons and Brian Ross had a different look at South Boston.
Sammons, driver of the No. 97 Sponsor Needed Ford, lost an engine in qualifying. Sammons had a backup engine, but the team had already loaned it to Brian Ross, who lost an engine in practice on Friday. Darin Odle, Ross' team owner, let Sammons put No. 97 on the side of the No. 42 US Insurance Group Ford and use it during the race, Ross slapped the No. 42 on the side of Jeff Agnew's backup car for the event.
Sammons started at the back of the field, but the New Jersey driver was able to come home in sixth position.
"We're just tickled to death with the finish after the weekend we had," said Sammons. "I just have to thank Darin Odle and Brian Ross. It was a weird situation, and they said to take the car and go with it."
The BFGoodrich Tires Traction T/A Radial is now 3 for 4 in breaking track records in the Hooters ProCup Series. With its unlimited grip, the tire helped Johnny Rumley around the .4-mile bullring in a time of 15.993 seconds, eclipsing the old record of 15.995 seconds held by Michael Ritch. But the trick to the Traction T/A is its ability to last.
"This is the first time we've run this BFGoodrich Tires radial, and it is an awesome tire," said Lindley. "The track had a lot of oil put down on it towards the end of the race, but the tires were still good."
Great Day, Eh?
Canadian driver D.J. Kennington, driver of the No. 77 S.M. Freight Inc. Ford, notched his first top-five finish in just his second start in the Hooters ProCup Series. Kennington, who started 17th, was able to stay out of trouble and run with top guns of the Series for much of the night.
"I love this Series," said Kennington. "It's a long haul for us, but I've always dreamed of racing in the States. We had a good car tonight, and we've got a lot of good guys helping us. We need a little more sponsorship help, but we're going to run as many of these that we can."