USAR: The 2005 champion: Benny Gordon

The Third Time Was the Charm Gordon goes from the first loser to the biggest winner Longs, SC-Racers are notorious for saying that finishing second just means you're the first loser. For the past two years, Benny Gordon has had to carry that...

The Third Time Was the Charm
Gordon goes from the first loser to the biggest winner

Longs, SC-Racers are notorious for saying that finishing second just means you're the first loser. For the past two years, Benny Gordon has had to carry that adage around on his shoulders over the off-season.

During his rookie season in 2003, Gordon made an improbable run at the Hooters Pro Cup Championship, entering the Championship Series outside the top 20 in points, but he came up 99 points behind Shane Huffman at end of the year.

In 2004, Gordon joined the newly-formed Predator Performance team and quickly raced himself into contention. The DuBois, Pa., driver won a Series-high seven races and carried a 39-point lead over Clay Rogers into the season-finale Hooters 300 at USA Int'l Speedway. Needing to finish third to secure the title, Gordon suffered a DNF in the final race and lost the title by 18 points to Rogers.

"I almost couldn't stand it," said Gordon, driver of the No. 66n Predator Performance Ford. "It was so disappointing to end the season like that. I was wound tighter than a drum over the winter."

Ready for redemption, Gordon came out strong to start the season, winning at South Boston and finishing second at Lonesome Pine. After a disappointing 16th-place finish at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Gordon added three wins and averaged a fourth-place finish over the next five races to take a commanding lead in the Northern Division standings.

Gordon capped off his regular season with a win at Madison (Wis.) International Speedway and took the Northern Division title. While Gordon was ecstatic about winning his second Northern Division title, his focus was squarely on winning the overall title. But at the start of the Championship Series, it looked like Gordon may be a three-time loser.

In his first two races, Gordon finished 13th and 12th. Luckily for Gordon, his nearest competitor, Shane Huffman, suffered misfortune in the first two events as well, allowing Gordon to hold on to the points lead, albeit by just 10 points.

With the pressure mounting, Gordon responded by winning the Mark Brooks Memorial Bi-Lo 250 at Myrtle Beach, giving him a 52-point lead heading into the final two races of the season. And that margin proved to be insurmountable.

Even with Shane Huffman winning the final two races, Gordon, who finished fourth in the season-finale, beat Shane Huffman by 18 points in the final standings, proving that the third time is the charm and making for a pleasant off-season.

"[Winning the title] means so much," said Gordon, who finished the season with $349,200 in winnings. "[In 2003], we had a chance to win the title, but Shane was the dominant car that year. Last year, I felt like we had the dominant car and team, so I was real disappointed that we lost it. You don't get many opportunities to win something like that. We were able to put ourselves in the same situation this year, but we went out and were able to capitalize on it this time."

-usar-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , Shane Huffman