ROGERS ONE BEATS ROGERS TWO ON WILD NIGHT by Jeremy Troiano
Brother Sweep Podium As Aaron’s 250 Story Unfolds
Saturday night’s Aaron’s 250 at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC) was looking to be one of the best races of the year for the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series.
With Northern Division point leader Benny Gordon coming to the Southern Division race and Shane Huffman and Clay Rogers locked in a tight point battle in the South, the race looked like it was going to be a heated battled between divisions.
falls off the cars. It feels good to come out of here with a win.”
The theme for the night looked to be playing out in the first 50 laps. Clay and Southern Division point leader Shane Huffman traded the lead a few times, but then fell in behind each other and started mowing down the field.
Clay Rogers celebrated his third win of the season after a wild race at Myrtle Beach. (51 Photos)
“Our initial strategy was just to lead the race right off the bat. Shane got a good jump and led the first lap. I figured we’d play it like we played Peach State. He and I have worked well together. We both know how you have to drive these tracks. Our spotters work together really well. If I’m ready to back off, they work well together. I wanted to back off, but for a while there, apparently Shane didn’t want to lead. I would have let him lead if he wanted too. I just rode as easy as we could. We were willing to get back to fourth spot, but we weren’t willing to fall back any farther than that.”
Behind them, brother Brad was working his way up from
Early, it was all Rogers (#44) and Huffman (#88).
Instead, it turned out to be a heated battled between brothers.
Clay Rogers picked up his third win of the 2006 season, beating Jeff Fultz and “invisible” brother Brad to the line in a race that had story lines from the start of the race until late in the night.
“The car was flawless the whole night,” said Clay. “We ran the same left front tire the whole race. Our car was really using the left rear to get up off the corner. That is where the car was so good. It launched up off the corners.
“I can’t even tell you how awesome Blake (Bainbridge) has made our cars this year. Nothing breaks. Nothing
his 10th-place starting spot to the front, while Fultz was moving forward from his 23rd-place starting spot.
The race took its first of several dramatic turns on lap 67, when Clay put his rival Gordon a lap down.
Another twist, and maybe the biggest of the night, came on lap 72, when all of the lead lap cars came in to pit. On the way out of the pits, Huffman’s #88 collided with Joey Logano’s #51 on pit road. The damage eventually forced Huffman to pit again, putting him in the back of the pack.
Just a few laps later, a huge crash took place in turn three, collecting Huffman, Gordon, Shane Wallace, Dange Hanniford, Jason Sarvis, Justin Hobgood and several others.
It turned the tide of the event.
“I don’t really know what happened,” said Huffman. “I heard some things, but I can’t honestly say what started the wreck. We got back there after (Joey) Logano hit the door and we had to stop again and pull the fender out. The guys had a heck of a stop and we beat everyone off pit road. Joey’s spotter did a terrible job telling him I was coming. That got our car all tore up.
“Once we got back there in the back, guys were racing like idiots. People have no respect for each other or the racetrack we run on. It beat anything I every saw in one of these races. People just drive in and beat the hell out of someone. If they wreck, well the so be it. I couldn’t believe some of the stuff that was going on back there. I
Huffman's #88 was a mess after the race.
don’t know if it happens every week like that or not, but if it does, then I feel sorry for some of those guys back there.”
“I hate that it happened to him,” said Clay. “When he got in the wreck, I saw it. It used to be that something like that would excite me. Now I know how hard you have to work to fix that kind of stuff and how hard to work to have a car that good. I don’t’ wish that on anybody. That definitely changed the outlook of our race. We were willing to back off more. Bobby wasn’t pushing us and Fultz wanted to lead, so we let him lead and saved our racecar.”
After the accident, Clay did play it easy, giving the lead to rookie Fultz. Fultz proceeded to show why he has always been one of the best at Myrtle Beach in any kind of car that he drove, setting a torrid pace and looking for more.
Behind Fultz, Brad Rogers continued to come. And Gordon, despite having massive damage from the earlier accident, found himself back on the lead lap and back in the thick of things.
Following the final round of stops though, Clay got his #44 out in front of Fultz’s #54 and took off. Fultz had to come through the traffic, which cost him valuable time at catching Clay. Behind them, Brad Rogers was coming as well, although most people didn’t know. In fact, at one point, Brad was shown nearly 20 laps down on the board. He was not however. Instead, his transponder had just fallen off.
So at the checkers, it was Fultz keeping Clay and Brad from a one-two sweep at the beach.
At least that is how things appeared moments after the
Fultz's #54 was fast, but was later DQ'ed.
race. Hours later, that would be reversed, as Fultz was disqualified late into the night for a problem with the intake system in post-race tech.
“We bought that motor, put it in and the when the officials said there was a problem, our motor builder said that it didn’t check out that way for him,” said Fultz. “One of the runners may have been a little big but it wasn’t enough to get disqualified for. After all, you wouldn’t take a big motor there anyway. You want to take a little motor there. It doesn’t increase the horsepower. They were still trying to figure it out and I was getting mad so I left before I said something wrong.”
It still couldn’t damper Clay’s happiness for his brother or Brad’s happiness for earning the best finish of the year for his Pete Knight Racing team.
“At the start of the race, I thought we had a really good piece,” said Brad Rogers, a former Southern Division Rookie of the Year and race winner. “You know how Myrtle Beach is. Like a light switch, it went from being really good to really bad. Man, I can’t say enough about the guys on this team. This is the best race team I’ve ever raced with. This is the best owner I’ve ever raced with. We finally showed some signs of what this team can really do tonight. Look out. We are coming. We got our stuff back together.”
Clay was just as happy for his brother as he was for himself.
“It makes me feel great, especially with everything their race team has been through this year,” said Clay in
Brad (left) and Clay (right) share a moment in Victory Lane (Kathy Bond photo)
victory lane, moments before giving his brother a big hug. “They came off a big year last year and I know Pete and Bud Knight expect to continue that kind of performance. After the first 10 races of the year, the performance wasn’t there. I commend those guys on their performance and believing in my brother. We all know he didn’t have very good finishes in the Northern races.
“Now, they’ve got a good solid team there. I appreciate the way they have stood beside my brother and believed in him. He was pretty down in the dumps for a while. Ninety-percent of this game is confidence. He is pretty confident right now. That is great to see.”