USAR: South Boston: Race report

Benny Gordon Wins Greased Lightning 250 South Boston, VA-The best place to be in the Greased Lightning 250 presented by Pepsi at South Boston Speedway was near the front-and Benny Gordon stayed there all night. After qualifying in...

Benny Gordon Wins Greased Lightning 250

South Boston, VA-The best place to be in the Greased Lightning 250 presented by Pepsi at South Boston Speedway was near the front-and Benny Gordon stayed there all night.

After qualifying in seventh, Gordon, driver of the No. 66 Predator Performance Ford, stayed in the top five for the first half of the race, picked up four spots on his pit stop and passed race-leader Danny Sammons on Lap 142 en route to victory in the Hooters Pro Cup Northern Division opener on Saturday night.

"We didn't have the best car tonight," said Gordon, who won for the eighth time in his last 14 starts. "I had to drive my butt off tonight to win this one."

And Gordon did just that over the last 75 laps.

Jeff Agnew, driver of the No. 73 NGA Hooters Golf Tour Chevy, moved into second place just past the halfway mark and hounded Gordon unmercifully towards the end of the race.

Agnew was able to get a fender alongside Gordon on numerous occasions, but the Floyd, Va., driver was unable to clear the defending Northern Division champion.

"I think we had a better car, because we could run him down every time he got out front," said Agnew. "But at a place like this, it's just so hard to pass because it's so tight."

And the tight confines of South Boston also hurt polesitter Joel Kauffman's chances at picking up the second victory of his career.

After grabbing his first-career Advance Auto Parts Pole Award, Kauffman led until the lead-lap cars hit pit road on Lap 100. A slight mishap during his pit stop cost Kauffman two spots during the round of pit stops, and the 19-year-old could never regain the lost track position.

Kauffman lined up sixth for the restart on Lap 106 behind the out-of-sequence cars of Danny Sammons, D.J. Kennington and Johnny Rumley, as well as Benny Gordon and Mart Nesbitt, who beat Kaufman out pit road.

While attempting to move back to the front, Kauffman clipped Nesbitt on a restart and knocked the front end of the No. 44 LA West Pontiac out of alignment.

"Our car was the dominant at the beginning; I didn't even have to drive the car," said Kauffman, who built leads of four seconds over the field in the first half of the event. "We had a lug get hung on that stop came out third. All the other cars were falling off a lot more than we were, so we were just taking our time. Then, somebody missed a shift on the restart and I got into the back of [Nesbitt] and knocked the toe out on our car."

Even with ill-handling car, Kauffman managed to finish sixth.

Jay Fogleman, driver of the No. 4s Mac Tools Ford, managed to stay out of trouble for the entire night and quietly notched his first podium finish of the season by finishing third.

"I would have loved to win the race, because [South Boston] is the first place that I drove a racecar," said Fogleman, who was moonlighting from the Southern Division. "We did what we wanted to tonight. We made some gains, and we are going to be carrying a better car to Peach State than I would have taken if I didn't come here."

A.J. Frank, driver of the No. 45 American IronHorse Ford, followed Fogleman to the checkered flag to finish fourth in his first start for East Coast Motorsports.

After qualifying eighth, Frank kept his nose clean for most of the night and nabbed his second top-five finish in just his second Pro Cup start. Frank's fourth-place finish was also good enough for Miller Lite Rookie of the Race honors and an extra $1,000 from the Milwaukee brewer.

"We had the best car out there tonight," said Frank, whose car showed plenty of battle scars. "We lost some spots on our pit stop, and we had to drive awful hard to get back up to the front. It's South Boston, and you're going to tear some things up, but I'm tickled to death with our run tonight."

Hometown favorite Woody Howard also had plenty of reason to be elated after the Greased Lightning 250.

Howard, driver of the No. 55 Dean Motorsports Chevy, started from the outside of the front row and stayed in the top 10 the entire night before finishing in seventh in his first Pro Cup start.

"The car was good, but we just had problem with the brakes on the long runs," said Howard. "In practice, we kept making short runs and we got a lot of rear brake temperature in the car. It's something we're going to have to figure out, but I'm happy with [seventh] I guess."

Mardy Lindley, driver of the No. 16 Hooters Air Ford, finished fifth.

Mart Nesbitt, Tim Bainey Jr., and Todd Peck rounded out the top 10.

The race was slowed 11 times for 77 laps of caution.

The Greased Lightning 250 featured three lead changes among three drivers.

Greased Lightning 250 Notebook

Gutsy Gamble

Danny Sammons, driver of the No. 97 Heartattack Inc. Ford, qualified 10th, but the New Jersey driver didn't make much headway with the tight racing quarters of South Boston Speedway in the fist 75 laps. With track position a premium, Sammons elected to short pit on Lap 80.

After the leaders cycled through pit stops, Sammons took the lead on Lap 102, held it for 40 laps and picked up $1,000 for being the Lucas Oil Product Halfway Leader. In the end, however, the strategy didn't pay off.

After Gordon took the top spot on Lap 142, Sammons was shuffled back to seventh and eventually caught up in a multi-car crash on Lap 208. Sammons finished 17th.

Twin Chargers

Joe Harrison Jr. and Jason Mignonga both need provisional to make the 32-car field at South Boston Speedway, but they both made the most of their nights.

Harrison Jr., driver of the No. 57 Harrison's Automotive Chevy, moved from his 29th-place starting spot to finish 11th.

Mignonga, driver of the No. 07 Jugular Energy Drink Chevy, started shotgun on the field and finished 14th.

For advancing 18 positions, both drivers split $500 and the Mr. Gasket Hard Charger Award.

Gordon Blasts the Pack

It took a great pit stop and 142 laps for Benny Gordon to make his presence known in the Greased Lightning 250. But once he did, Gordon led a race-high 109 laps and picked up an extra $500 for winning the Greased Lightning "Blast the Pack" Award.

Big Cars, Small Spaces

The Northern Division drivers of the Hooters Pro Cup Series have been chomping at the bit to get the season started. After watching their Southern Division counterparts compete in three events, the Greased Lightning 250 was the first chance for the Northern Division to take center stage.

Unfortunately, a third of them weren't around at the finish after six multi-car accidents ended the nights of many contenders.

"A lot of the guys weren't patient out there tonight," said Agnew. "But South Boston is so tight and it's so hard to pass, I think that's why you saw a lot of impatience. You can't blame it all on the drivers. That's just what happens when you try to stick these big cars in hole that doesn't fit."

Nesbitt Shoulders Blame

Mart Nesbitt, driver of the No. 88 BCBS Ford, was having a stellar run in the Greased Lightning 250 for 200 laps. Nesbitt, who qualified sixth, raced his way into the top five late in the race and was attempting to pass Mardy Lindley for fourth when he clipped Jimmy Spencer Jr. on Lap 208, igniting a multi-car crash.

"I got a good run under Mardy [Lindley] and got alongside him," said Nesbitt. "Unfortunately, we caught Spencer going down the backstretch. I was about to fall back in line and give up the position. I don't know if he checked up or what, but I just ran all over him. It was my fault. I just hate we tore up our car, because we had a top-three car."

-usar-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Jimmy Spencer , D.J. Kennington , Joel Kauffman , A.J. Frank , Tim Bainey Jr. , Johnny R , Jeff Agnew , Todd Peck