Gill Wins Farmer's Foods 250 Southern Division interloper takes Northern Division victory South Boston, Va.-The only thing more important than having a good car at South Boston Speedway could have been having Jim Cantore's cell ...
Gill Wins Farmer's Foods 250
Southern Division interloper takes Northern Division victory
South Boston, Va.-The only thing more important than having a good car at South Boston Speedway could have been having Jim Cantore's cell phone number.
With a major storm system pushing its way across the Northeast on Saturday, a few Hooters Pro Cup teams gambled the Farmer's Foods 250 presented by Eaton Corporation wouldn't make the scheduled distance. Derek Kale's and Mark McFarland's strategy appeared to pay off when the rain started falling near lap 200. But as the system dissipated, so did the pair's chance at victory.
McFarland, running second, ran out of fuel first just after Lap 200 and coasted to pit road under caution. Kale, who led a race-high 126 laps, made it until Lap 212 before being forced to pit for fuel.
Bobby Gill, driver of the No. 06 USG Sheetrock Brand Ford, inherited the lead when Derek Kale came to pit road and held off Clay Rogers in a green- white-checkered finish to win the Sears Auto Center Northern Division opener at SoBo on Saturday, April 14.
"[Kale and McFarland] thought the rain was going to help them, and for a minute, I thought it was going to help them, too," said Gill. "When [Kale] came to the pits, that's all I needed."
The win was Gill's first of the season and marked the second time in as many years that a Southern Division driver has won the Northern Division opener.
"We should have won at [South Georgia], but we just couldn't miss that wreck," said Gill, who picked up his 44th Pro Cup win. "We stayed on old tires all day during practice and got it running good. It stayed consistent and we got to show it off tonight."
While Gill showed his wares as the race wound down, Frank Deiny Jr., driver of the No. 5s Bailey's/Concept Mining Ford, was desperately trying to show that his car was the one to beat
Deiny, who set a new track record during BFGoodrich Tires Pole Qualifying, wrestled the lead from Mark McFarland on Lap 34 and took control of the event. But when most of the top-10 cars came to pit road on Lap 52, Deiny stayed on the track.
"There was a lot of chatter on the radio, and I couldn't come in when they wanted me to come in," said Deiny Jr. "We came in too late, and that was my fault."
Deiny Jr. came to pit road on Lap 85, but the former SoBo regular found himself deep in the field and could only make it back to fourth at the finish.
"We had a great car all weekend," said Deiny, who won an extra $1,000 for being the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race. "It was a lot of fun racing with Gary St. Amant and Benny Gordon trying to get back to the front. We wanted the win, but we got a track record at home and the car is here in one piece. We'll just get ready for Concord."
Despite not having to deal with Kale, McFarland and Deiny down the stretch, Gill did have a familiar foe to contend with: Clay Rogers.
Rogers, making his first start for the Bowen Family Homes team, didn't have a car to beat Gill, but four late-race restarts gave the defending Hooters Pro Cup champion a chance.
"The track was slick the first couple of laps with the sprinkles coming down," said Rogers, who finished .536 seconds behind Gill. "It was really easy to spin the tires. You had to be on the ball with the shifter and the throttle. Bobby is really good on restarts, so it was going to be tough to get by him. It was a good night for us, especially for a deal that was put together in a couple of weeks. I think [the second-place finish] makes me the Northern Division point leader."
Rogers holds a five-point lead over third-place finisher Matt Carter, driver of the No. 26 Travis Carter Motorsports Ford.
Like Rogers, Carter was also making his Northern Division debut in a car that was put together in a matter of weeks.
"I'm ecstatic," said Carter, who notched his career-best finish. "We got this car together in about three and half weeks. "To get out of here with a third-place finish without a scratch on the car, it was a great night."
Gary St. Amant, driver of the No. 7 JEGS.com/Speedco Chevrolet, also got his season off to a solid start by rounding out the top five.
Carl Long had a solid showing in the No. 12s Romeo Construction Chevrolet, coming home sixth. In his debut for Mac Hill Motorsports, A.J. Frank finished seventh. Jody Lavender, Woody Howard and Jeff Fultz rounded out the top 10.
The Farmer's Foods 250 featured four lead changes among four drivers and was slowed 11 times for 93 laps. Two of the cautions were weather related.
Farmer's Foods 250 Notebook
Seven Years Ago
Bobby Gill has never been in a win slump, but he has been in a bit of a championship drought. After winning the title in 1999, 2000 and 2001, Gill hasn't hoisted the Championship Trophy since. But that could change this season.
"This is how I used to do it when we won those three titles; we didn't worry about qualifying," said Gill, who started 19th. "We'd practice on old tires and get the car right for the long runs. The only one concerned about qualifying is our team owner, Jim Mosley. He likes to sit on the pole. Every time we sat on the pole last year, we didn't win. When we start further back, we win."
Though Gill wasn't a threat for the $1,000 bonus for winning the pole, his 19th-place qualifying effort wasn't all for naught. Gill picked up the Aaron's "Do The Math" Award for advancing the most positions during the race and took home an extra $500.
So Close, So Far
Derek Kale, driver of the No. 22 Heritage Equipment Chevrolet, came ever so close to winning his first Hooters Pro Cup event. Kale, the 2006 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year, started third and led 126 laps, but the rains didn't come, forcing him to give up the lead and come to pit road.
Nevertheless, Kale's showing was a good one. Even with 190 laps on his tires, Kale was able to hold off Gill for the lead until coming to pit road for fuel.
Ohio Shout Out
As expected, Gary St. Amant was all smiles after his top-five finish in the Farmer's Foods 250 at South Boston Speedway. But he can't wait to share the joy with this car owner, Dwayne Tatman, who was at home in Ohio.
"I can't wait for him to be here and have some fun," said St. Amant, driver of the No. 7 JEGS.com/Speedco Chevrolet. "We were a little nervous coming in with some new guys on the team, but it was a great race for us. Not only have some of the guys never been over the wall, but they've never been to a race with live pit stops. So for us to get out of here with a top-five finish is awesome."
Grits vs. Mush
Clay Rogers, driver of the No. 29 Bowen Family Homes Chevrolet, doesn't feel like a Northerner and don't expect him to choose grits over mush anytime soon. Despite being a Sears Auto Center Northern Division competitor, Rogers' heart remains below the Mason-Dixon Line.
"As far as I'm concerned, there's still an 'S' on the side of my car," said Rogers, who still lives in Mooresville, N.C. "I'm just happy the Bowen Family Homes team gave me this opportunity to come up here and race."
Making up for Lost Time
Several drivers that were expected to contend for the Sears Auto Center Northern Division title will need to make up for their less-than-stellar start to the season. Jeff Agnew, Eric Corbett, Johnny Rumley and Benny Gordon all finished outside the top 20 in the season-opening event.