Ritch wins Discount Auto Parts 250 Three-wide run for the white flag highlights race St. Augustine, FL (April 4, 1999)- Sliding through turn four on the lowest groove of St. Augustine Speedway's half-mile asphalt oval, High Point, NC driver ...
Ritch wins Discount Auto Parts 250
Three-wide run for the white flag highlights race
St. Augustine, FL (April 4, 1999)- Sliding through turn four on the lowest groove of St. Augustine Speedway's half-mile asphalt oval, High Point, NC driver Michael Ritch righted his Jackaroo Sauces Chevrolet and drag raced Jay Fogleman, Mario Gosselin and Toby Porter into turn one as the white flag of United Speed Alliance Racing flagman Wyatt Gibson waved high above in the salty night air.
When the dust had settled and the smoke had cleared, the 26-year-old Ritch had won his ninth Hooters ProCup race in just his 22nd start. After all, it was his wife Heather's birthday, how could he fail.
Ritch didn't think much about his chances of winning the Discount Auto Parts 250 after being penalized by USAR officials for having his car lined up late prior to the start of pre-race activities. Qualifying second to Toby Porter's Discount Auto Parts Pole Award winning 103.241 mph run, Ritch was relegated to the 27th starting position at the green flag where he joined Mardy Lindley who qualified fourth, but met the same fate.
Ritch worked his way through the field after first enduring a crash on lap two that slightly damaged his Chevrolet's right front quarter panel. Following a series of pit stops to straighten out the damage, the former Winston Racing Series Mid-Atlantic Champion sped through the field eventually advancing into fourth when the final caution flag of the night was waved for the spinning Ford Taurus of Mike Laughlin, Jr.
Laughlin spun passing Fogleman for the race lead on lap 247 when he attemped to pass the Durham, NC driver on the low side of turn three and lost the handle on the car. Restarting ninth after the caution, Laughlin went on to finish sixth following a dominating performance, having led twice for a total of 91 laps for the night and winning the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader Award. Laughlin's misfortune set up the final thrilling sequence of the grueling race.
With a green-white-checkered finish, Fogleman lead the lead foursome into the third turn seeking the white flag. Fogleman's Ford, however, suffered a cut right front tire in the heat of the battle. Taking advantage of Fogleman's fading presence, Ritch ducked low while Gosselin drove his W.J. Plemons Chevrolet high resulting in a three-wide sprint down the front straight at the white flag. Ritch leaned hard into turn one and the outcome was decided.
"Best job by the crew I've ever witnessed," said Ritch about his early pit stop. "I hate it for Jay (Fogleman), but man it is great to win one like this. I didn't care for being penalized, but we made something good come out of this."
"I thought for a second there that I might win this thing," said Gosselin. "Then I looked over and saw Ritch," the Lake Wales, FL driv added.
"I was looking for that last caution and we caught it," said the 24-year-old driver. "It was a good night for the team."
"I hated it," said Fogleman. "But what are you going to do? That's racing," Fogleman added about his tire problem at the end of the race. Fogleman held on to fifth when Lindley edged him for fourth in his Aloe Lu-Ya Pontiac. Lindley's finish won him the Miller Beer Highest Finishing Rookie of the Race Award.
Porter, Greenville, SC, passed Gosselin on the final lap to finish second in his First Class/Pepsi Chevrolet.
Auburndale, FL driver Derrick Kelley brought his Discount Auto Parts Chevrolet home seventh after a mid-race spin. Steve Christian, Buford, GA, finished eighth in the Lucas Oil Products Chevrolet while defending
The $1.5 million 20-race Series travels to Myrtle Beach Speedway on April 17 for the running of the second annual Hooters "Four Champion Challenge" Mark Brooks Memorial 250.
Fin Start Car Driver Hometown Sponsor Run Led 1 2 23 Michael Ritch High Point, NC Jackaroo Sauces 258 2 2 1 80 Toby Porter Greenville, SC First Class 258 57 3 3 10 Mario Gosselin Lake Wales, FL W.J. Plemons Insurance 258 2 4 4 05 Mardy Lindley Taylors, SC Meineke 258 0 5 14 4 Jay Fogleman Durham, NC Car Kolor 258 106 6 6 7 Mike Laughlin Jr. Simpsonville, SC Valenite Tool 258 91 7 15 21 Derrick Kelley Auburndale, FL Discount Auto Parts 258 0 8 13 0 Steve Christian Sugar Hill, GA Lucas Oil Products 258 0 9 18 73 Jeff Agnew Floyd, VA Team 7 Motorsports 258 0 10 11 69 Bobby Gill Dalton, GA Aqua Tech International 258 0 11 7 27 Johnny Rumley Winston Salem,NC Race Scan 258 0 12 8 14 Charlie Ford Charles City, VA Charlie Ford Motorsports 258 0 13 16 94 Scott Sutherland Jefferson, GA Road Rescue 258 0 14 25 22 Bill Plemons Jr. Locust Grove,GA Hooters Restaurants 257 0 15 32 07 Tim Clayton Inman, SC Budweiser 257 0 16 5 30 Mart Nesbitt Asheville, NC State Fair Corn Dogs 256 0 17 28 50 Doc McKinney Ft. Pierce, FL Ramada Inn of St. Augustine 255 0 18 22 47 Andy Thurman Concord, NC Naturally Fresh Spring Water 254 0 19 27 1 Don Satterfield Spartanburg,SC Hawk Saw Blades 254 0 20 30 24 Clay Dale Jefferson, GA Mitchell Hardware 252 0 21 20 09 Jabe Jones Martin, GA New Carolina Construction 252 0 22 12 70 Brad May Orlando, FL Naturally Fresh Foods 251 0 23 26 67 Daryl Gwynn Eden, NC Miller Lite 249 0 24 21 57 Joe Harrison, Jr. Renick, WV Harrison Automotive 248 0 25 10 58 Jeremy Bowser Clearwater, FL Key Bank & Trust 248 0 26 23 90 Brad Barkis Ft. Myers, FL Fast Equipment 213 0 27 9 25 Scott Wimmer Wausau, WI Jackaroo Gold Meat Sauces 208 0 28 31 52 Trent Owens Harrisburg, NC 1-800-BE-PETTY 171 0 29 17 77 Jerry Rector Fountain Inn, NC Red's Grill 109 0 30 24 37 Don Sprouse Greenville, SC Laughlin Racing Products 45 0 31 33 11 Chuck Walls Flat Rock, NC Laughlin Racing Products 34 0 32 34 08 Ronnie Davidson Lenoir, NC C&T Classics 9 0 33 19 34 Mike Herman Jr. Kannapolis, NC Today's Fireplace 9 0 34 29 95 Stacy Vicars St. Paul, VA Robert Sidney Racing 1 0
# of cautions - 10 total, laps under caution - 78
Total time of race - 2:00:00, Winners average speed - 62.5 mph
Lap Leaders - 1-57 Toby Porter, 58- 61 Mike Laughlin, Jr., 62-63 Mario Gosselin, 64-150 Laughlin, Jr., 151-256 Jay Fogleman, 257-258 Michael Ritch
Discout Auto Parts Pole; $1,000; Toby Porter
Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader; $1,000; Mike Laughlin,Jr.
W.J. Plemons Hard Charger; $500; Tim Clayton
Miller Lite Rookie of the Race; $1,000; Mardy Lindley