PRO CUP LEFTOVERS: MYRTLE BEACH  by Jeremy Troiano
St. Amant Disappointed, Rogers Has Awesome Run, McFarland “Shocked”
SHIFTER SLOWS ST. AMANT

Gary St. Amant was disappointed after the race on Saturday night, and he should have been.  It really looked like the veteran had the fastest car on the track for much of the night, but a simple little mechanical problem kept him from his first victory of the season and a possible shot at the points lead.
That wasn’t St. Amant’s only problem at the end.

“The shifter got hung up and we were stuck in fourth gear the last 50 laps,” said St. Amant.  “I guess we need a little bit of better shifter maintenance.”

However, despite losing some ground to race winner Gordon in the points, St. Amant was able to move up to second.   He is 52 points out of the top spot.

“We lost a few points to Benny, but leading a lap was very critical.  We just didn’t lead the one we really wanted to led.”

ROGERS STEPS IT UP

The #22 Ricky Benton Racing ride has seen its fair share of drivers this year.   Matt Carter started out the year in the ride, but was then replaced by Jay Fogleman.  Fogleman lasted a few races in the car before heading back to his own team.  So owner Ricky Benton decided to put Brad Rogers, a former Pro Cup Series winner without a full-time ride, in his car for the remainder of the year.

The post season has proven that to be a very wise choice for the team. 
Brad Rogers (left) beat Jay Fogleman (middle) and Michael Ritch (right) in a grocery cart race on Friday, then beat them on Saturday.  (Kathy Bond Photo)
St. Amant caught race leader Benny Gordon and passed him with ease just past halfway.  His lead was short lived though, as St. Amant came out of the pits second following a round of pit stops not that long after.

However, after the stops, St. Amant’s car didn’t quite look the same.  The former ASA National Champion laid back on the restarts and couldn’t quite muster the speed he could earlier in the event.

“I needed long green flag runs and I couldn’t get them at the end,” said St. Amant.  “That is where our car was so good and why we caught Benny so fast there before we took the lead.  This car was awesome on long runs.  We had a couple of long green flag periods there, but not at the end.”
Rogers put in another solid performance behind the wheel of the No. 22  at Myrtle Beach, coming home fifth after starting near the very back in 30th.

“It was an exciting race.  I think everyone is pretty happy,” said Rogers.  “We started 30th and came to fourth at one point.  

“The thing that hurt us the most though was that we took four (tires) on the last stop.  We had three new ones and one old one on the car after the last stop.   We were just way too tight at the end of the race to keep advancing.  I think if we would have had a long green flag run, we would have been alright.  We were just a little bit off though.”
St. Amant might have had the best car, but he coudln't grab P1 on the board. (51 Photos)
With 10 laps to go Rogers lost radio communication with his crew while running fourth, which contributed to his losing a spot on the track in the waning laps.

“The car was way better than what we qualified.  It was great on old tires, but not really on new tires.  I think this track here is the only one we will struggle with qualifying.  We had the right package on long runs though.  We just need a little bit more.”

Rogers and the team have three top-six finishes in their four races together.  He has moved up to 12th in the points standings.

"Everybody’s pretty excited," Rogers added. "We just have to find a little bit more to get this car in victory lane. I think our chances are good when we go to Motor Mile (Speedway, Radford, Va.) for the next race; I like it there, and feel real good about going there."

BAIRD TEAMMATES STRUGGLE IN SECOND HALF

The first half of the race on Saturday night proved to be a walk away for the Baird cars of Clay Rogers and AJ Frank.  Rogers wasted little time in getting to the lead on lap four, only to give it up to his teammate AJ Frank on lap nine.  Rogers got it back on lap 21 and led until the first round of pit stops.
The East Coast Motorsports teams of Clay Rogers and AJ Frank ran well, then struggled at the Beach on Saturday night.
That is when the bottom fell out for both the #44 and #45 rides.

“We both were walking away for a bit,” said Frank, who ran second to his teammate for much of the race’s first half.  “We both let each other lead some laps.  Then we decide to go with the three (tires) and three (tires) pit strategy.  That might have hurt us the most, because of a setup issues. 

“We are putting a lot of load on the front tires.  It was like the left front tires wasn’t there for most of the race.   On our second stop, we ended up putting the left rear that we took off on the first stop on the left front.  The car was
just never the same though.  Both cars have near identical setups and the same thing happened to the both of us.

“We were both heroes the fist 100 laps and zeros the second 150.”

Rogers finished in 11th, the first car on lap down, while Frank finished 14th, also one lap off the pace.

“Nevertheless, it was fun to run up front.  It was fun for both of our cars to run up front.  Myrtle Beach is just a wicked, wicked track. 

NAMES MISSING

The Myrtle Beach race drew only 35 cars, marking the first race that all of those showing up for a championship event made the show.  There was no one sent home.

However, there were some missing name, most notably Toby Porter.  Porter, who had driven the entire year with the #13 Titan Industrial team, wasn’t at the track and indications are that he and the team might have parted ways.  

Two drivers were off competing elsewhere.  Chase Pistone was in Martinsville driving in the NASAR Craftsman Truck Series, while Steve Wallace was off in Memphis driving in the NASCAR Busch Series for his father’s team.

Shelby Howard, driving for Tony Stewart, failed to make the trek to “The Beach,” as did Randy Humphery and Billy Bigley.

McFARLAND “SHOCKED” BY 24th-PLACE FINISH 

Saturday night’s Myrtle Beach race was just plain bad for series superstar Mark McFarland.

Just when McFarland needed a solid finish to jump back into a contending spot for the championship, bad luck bit him once again.  It wasn’t enough that he’d had issues while being one of the fastest cars in the first two Championship Series races, now, he’s fighting even more mechanical problems.
Faulty front shocks relegated McFarland to a 24th place finish, dropping him to 15th in the championship points.  He is 40 points out of tenth place and 165 points behind leader Benny Gordon.

“This was a really, really frustrating night,” said McFarland.  “That was a long race.  To have the luck we’ve had lately is gut-wrenching.  None of us ever saw this coming.

“On new tires, the car was pretty good for about 10 laps.  But after that is was too loose to get to the bottom.  Everyone knows that the bottom is the fast way around Myrtle Beach.”
Mark McFarland
A post-race check of the car found the culprit.  Both front shocks had compressed and never rebounded.

“The car was loose all the way through the corner and now we know why,” said Jefferson Hodges, crew chief.  “All of the weight was on the nose of the car so the rear tires were just spinning when Mark hit the gas.”

“A night like tonight can take the wind out of your sails if you let it, but we are going to finish strong,” added McFarland.

ROGERS & GILL TANGLE

The Pro Cup Series event at Myrtle Beach pretty much followed the script of Andrew Rogers' 2005 season  The young driver had a good car, looked impressive by using a combination of patience and speed to run well and was hoping for a good finish.  But instead of that, he got struck down by another case of bad luck.

Rogers pulled out a great qualifying run, starting third.  But he didn’t have a great finish, coming home 33rd.

“It was just one of those deals.  We had a good day going.  We were fourth in practice and qualified third.  That’s the best that we qualified all year, so we were happy with that. 
Andrew Rogers (center) was all laughts before the race, but he wasn't as happy afterwards.
"The car was free at the beginning of the race and we fell to fourth.  Then I got around Shane Wallace and got back to third.  From there, we were basically just riding.  If someone came up to us, I’d let them go and save our stuff.

“We were riding back around eighth or ninth and Bobby Gill got to my back door.  We had already taken two tires, so we had four left for later in the race.  He just drove down into the corner and drove into the back of me.  He spun me out and drove me into the wall.  That tore the back end of the car all to pieces.”

“I talked to him after the race and he said that he locked up the left front tire and got into me.  I don’t know that I necessarily believe that.”
After the accident, Rogers drove around the track and ran into Bobby’s car before coming into the pits and fixing the damage.  That earned him a penalty from Pro Cup officials.

“I was frustrated with him and made a stupid mistake.  I went up and hit him under caution.  That didn’t do any damage to him, he still finished fourth, but I cost myself two laps for being ignorant.”

Rogers limped around for a few more laps, but retired from the event on lap 142.

“We were riding around and getting in everyone’s way, so I parked it.”

SOLID RUN FOR LAVENDER

Jody Lavender knows his way around Myrtle Beach Speedway.  He’s been around it in Late Model Stock Cars and NASCAR All Pro (now Southeast Series) cars. 

But things are always a little bit different when you come back in different cars, especially when those car are big and heavy.
It has taken a while for Lavender to get used to running the Pro Cup car at Myrtle Beach, but he’s getting better and better.

“We probably messed up a little on tires,” said Lavender, who finished 10th.  “We were so bad the first part of the race; we took our four tires early when we planned on taking them late.  we got back up to third, but then there at the end of the race, we tired something a little different on tires and it came back to bite us.  We were terrible at the end.  We stayed on the lead lap and got a good top 10 run. Hopefully, it was a good points night too
Jody Lavender
“We were terrible on that long green flag run.  We were close to getting lapped.  You normally don’t see that here at Myrtle Beach.  We had two real long ones tonight.  We did the best we could.

“I’ve got a lot of laps here.  We used to win a bunch of races here too.   We just have to figure out what we need to do to have the best tires at the end.”

BAINEY JR STRUGGLES

Tim Bainey’s post season hasn’t gone quite like he’s hoped for, and things didn’t change on Saturday night, as the youngster finshed 23rd at Myrtle Beach.
Tim Bainey Jr.
"We just didn’t get the car right," said Bainey. "This track is so different from anywhere that we run in the way your car loses grip, we worked all through practice and got the car to be decent.  But in the race, I don’t know it just wasn’t very good."

Bainey is 25th in the championship point standings, only 27 points out of the top-20.

"We are a little disappointed with where we are at in the standings at this point," said  Bainey.  "I thought we would be a little higher, but we’ve had three bad races in a row and, well, that will knock you down in the points.  But we know what we are capable of, and if we can get solid runs in the last 2 events we can still get back up inside the top 20 of the points.

"We had a really good car at Jennerstown and Mansfield, but things didn’t work out for us. I’m sure we will have the car ready for Radford."