PRO CUP LEFTOVERS: PEACH STATE by Jerermy Troiano & Matt Kentfield
Wallace Loses Point Lead, Willard Impressive, Turner In Town
WALLACE HAS TOUGH NIGHT, LOSES POINT LEAD
Shane Wallace came into Saturday night’s race at Peach State Speedway as the Southern Division point leader.
He didn’t leave that way though.
After a 27th-place finish, Wallace now finds himself fourth in the points.
“We had a good car, we started up front and ran good all night,” said Wallace, who led four laps. “All the pit stops were good and we were just hanging out and using our usual strategy. We took tires and (the car) just got too tight on us.”
From there, it got worse for Wallace. He got involved in not one, but two accidents to finish him off.
“We were coming back from being a lap down and I was doing my job when the #1 ‘hacksaw-blade character’ Don Satterfield dumped us. We tried to fight back from that all night and came in and took four tires to try to get our lap back. We got our lap back, came back through the
Josh Hamner and Charlie Bradberry were two other drivers that were also in attendance, checking out some of the behind-the-scenes action.
YOUNGSTER LEADS LAP, IMPRESSES MANY
Peach State Speedway isn’t easy. Just ask any of the Pro Cup Series drivers. It’s old, rough and tough on tires. But that didn’t stop 15-year-old Trevor Bayne from going out there, leading laps and finishing eventually 19th.
The Knoxville-native had yet to race at a track that he has previously competed on in his rookie season. Peach State was the first of several tracks that Trevor has not only seen and driven on, but won on as well. Trevor won at Peach State three out of four attempts in the Allison Legacy Touring Series over the last two years.
Shane Wallace (51 Photos)
Super Late Model veteran Ricky Turner has been at the last two Pro Cup South races as a interested observer.
field but I just misjudged the corner on Jody Lavender and got into him. I was committed to the inside and I don’t know if his spotter just didn’t relay the message but we got together and I just tore down the wall and that was the end of our night. It bent up a lot of the car.
“You’re going to have nights like this. It’s not going to be perfect all the time. The first two races went just the way we wanted them to. We were hoping to come through here pretty comfortably and go to Concord where I’ll have another good car.”
PENALTY COSTS LOGANO SHOT AT WIN
It was obvious to everyone. Joey Logano and the #51 Joe Gibbs Racing Oil team had the best car at Peach State Speedway in the Naturally Fresh 250 on Saturday night.
However, a penalty for rough-driving from Pro Cup officials with less than 25 laps to go (when Joey got into a lapped car) knocked Joey from an obvious shot to win to the back of the pack.
“We had the car to beat, that’s for sure,” said Logano. “Lapped cars that are six or seven laps down are trying to race with the leaders. They don’t need to be up there. I don’t know why the heck they need to be racing up there. I barely tapped him and he spun out. Still, he doesn’t belong up there. That’s flat out what it is. We were running third but we were behind guys who didn’t have any tires so we would’ve passed them.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing #51 pit crew got Joey out of the pits first each time out.
“The pit crew did awesome. Every time we came in there they got me out first. There were no complaints there. We had an awesome car. These guys are awesome. We practice two times a week and its starting to show now. It’s nice when you can come in there and have the confidence in the crew that they’re not going to mess up and they’re going to put you up front. That would’ve won us the race. It should’ve won us the race.”
The lap 229 penalty cost him a shot at the win. However
Joey Logano (#51) races to the inside of Matt Carter (#16). (Kathy Bond Photo)
Joey was able to make it back up into the top-10 before the checkers flew.
“We passed about 20 cars on those last laps. This whole team never gives up. No matter what happens, we can never give up. Even though we didn’t win the race we should’ve won the race.”
DANGE SAYS “DANG”
Late in the race on Saturday night, Pro Cup rookie Dange Hanniford was running second behind Mike Herman. It was nearly a dream come true for the driver racing in only his fourth Pro Cup series event.
But Dange knew that he was a sitting duck. Along with leader Herman, Hanniford was racing on much older tires than the three cars coming up fast behind him.
Following a late caution with less than 10 to go, Hanniford tried to hold off those charging competitors, but a flat tire and a game of “pinball” relegated him to an 18th-place finish.
“We were really good there at the end,” said Hanniford. “We knew things get slicker out there on two tires.
“We figured we could at least come out of there with a top-three or top-four finish. Then, with about 10 to go, I felt a tire start going down and there wasn’t anything I could do. The guys behind me knocked me around like at Montgomery. I guess I’ve got to get some respect out there from some of these guys.
Dange Hanniford (#22) had a good night going until late in the race. (Bond Photo)
“I learned it is really hard to hold guys off here when you got old tires.”
WILLARD RETURNS TO THE FRONT
Wayne Willard has struggled since moving to the Pro Cup Series from the Super Late Model world. He’ll be the first to admit that.
But if there is one track on the schedule that Willard could go to and turn everything around, it was Peach State Speedway, which sits nearly in Willard’s backyard and is a track he’s been around more times than anyone.
Willard used that familiarity with the track to score a career-best third-place finish on Saturday night.
“We had a pretty good car in practice,” said Willard. “We worked on trying to get off four really good and we did. I figured we would be a top-five car, but I didn’t know how good we would be
“Late in the race, Shane (Huffman, who was running second at the time) looked like he was a little tight in the center and I got a hell of a run up on him and thought I had a shot at getting by him. I just didn’t want to spin him out and I wanted to finish. This is the best finish I have had, so I am real excited. I got something to go to the next race with and to piece together.
“And, we had a good showing in front of the home crowd. That is always a good thing.”
Mike Herman was so close to his first Pro Cup victory Saturday night he could taste it. Looking at his chances earlier in the race, it’s hard to believe he was in a position to win with just a handful of laps remaining at Peach State.
Herman had a disappointing qualifying run and started the race 17th. Early green flag runs and an ill-handling racecar forced Herman to lose a lap to the leaders. He was about to lose a second lap in the middle stages of the race before a caution flag allowed him to stay down just one.
Mike Herman Jr.
“I burnt the tires up early and we got a lap down and were close to going two laps down when we caught a caution. We put new tires on and made a chassis adjustment and it really came on. I wasn’t going to just lay over and play dead. I haven’t won one of these races yet so I was going to give it all I had.”
By not pitting with the leaders on the first pit stop, Herman got back on the lead lap. He was off-sequence with the leaders, so when the frontrunners pitted on lap 209, Herman was at the head of the field. Fresh tires at the end of the race allowed Clay Rogers and others to get by him, but Herman still was able to hold onto a fifth place finish.
“If things would’ve went our way things would’ve been different,” said Herman. “If we could’ve caught another caution maybe things would’ve been different and we would’ve won. I almost went down two laps on old tires so I knew I wasn’t going to be the fastest car out there with used tires there at the end so I knew Clay was going to be good with those newer tires.”
ONE HAPPY BROTHER
For the last two weeks, Brad Rogers has found himself standing in Victory Lane, watching his older brother Clay celebrate winning in the Pro Cup Series.
Brad has won before. But it has been a while. It was in 2004 at Southern National Speedway.
Now, Brad is driving for Knight’s Racing in the Northern Division. However, he’s at almost every race, both to hang with Andrew Rogers (no relation) and Knight’s Racing, but to also keep an eye on how older brother Clay is doing.
At Peach State, Brad was one of the first to visit Victory Lane to congratulate his older brother.
“I’m real proud of him,” said Rogers of his brother. “We (the Knight’s Racing team) are getting there. That is why I’m here. I’m constantly learning a lot.”
So does seeing his brother win make Brad jealous, or does it push him to work even harder?
“There is more motivation there. I am excited for him of course. I mean, he is my brother. I learned a lot from him. I always have. And now, he’s finally getting to race with the right people behind him and its showing. He’s
worked hard for a long time and it’s finally coming together for him. It’s a little bit of inspiration to work harder and get there where he is.
“I’m proud man.”
SEVERAL INTERESTED ONLOOKERS AT MONTGOMERY
At the last couple of Pro Cup Series races, there have been several interested onlookers in the infield. It started at Montgomery and carried over to Peach State.
Two big names from the Southern Super Late Model world were among the observers.
“From what I have seen, I like (the Pro Cup Series quite a bit),” said former Southern All Star Series champion Ricky Turner. “I like their schedule and the format that they run by. They are very professional and run things well. And the drivers do some beating and banging, you see them cars wrinkled up a bit, but nothing too bad. I think the officials do a good job of keeping everyone on a level playing field from what I see.”
Turner would like to race in a couple of events later in the year.
“We are building a car now,” added Turner. “That’s our plan is to get involved this year. Our plans are to run about the last five Southern races and then just get our feet wet this year, and then run full next year.”
burn my stuff up and it was working. We had a good car but it just didn’t end up the way we wanted.”
LAVENDER HAS CRAZY NIGHT
Looking at Jody Lavender’s car at the end of the night, you would have thought the veteran was lucky to come out of Peach State with a top-20 finish.
But he did way better than that. He finished an impressive fourth.
“I am definitely pleased with it because we did not have a good car tonight,” said Lavender. “I mean I don’t know where we were off, but we were. Since we wrecked this car last year, we keep working on it and it’s a rocket on new tires but it just won’t last.”
The top-five even shocked Lavender.
“To get a lap down and to come back and get a top five is awesome. If anyone had told me at early in the race that we were going to walk out of here with a top five, I would have called them a liar.
“You gotta take bad nights and turn them into good nights,” added Lavender. “We have had great cars all year and we had a couple of really good runs. I think we had a shot at winning South Georgia and we had a good top three car at Montgomery and I didn’t get the finishes that we needed. Then, we take what wasn’t really a good car and get our top five finish, so it’s been kind of a backward year. But that’s how things seem to work for me sometimes.”
A ROG CALLS A MULLIGAN
According to dictionary.com, a mulligan is defined as “a golf shot not tallied against the score, granted in informal play after a poor shot especially from the tee.” That word is often mixed into everyday life for when something just doesn’t go your way.
And after Peach State Speedway’s event on Saturday night, the fourth round of the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series Southern Division, Andrew Rogers is calling a “mulligan.”
George Brunnhoelzl III
“I definitely like this race track a lot,” said Bayne, who led 15 laps just past half-way. “It is one of my favorite tracks. You just keep it low off the corner and you are good to go. Its all about saving your tires as well.”
Bayne looked as if he was on pace for a top-five finish, but late in the race, he got spun from behind by Chase Pistone. Bayne couldn’t get his car refired and he eventually went a lap down.
“I messed up a little bit. My spotter said ‘three-wide’ and I thought he meant there were both on my inside. But he was on the outside and I kind of squeezed him a little bit into the wall. He (Pistone) just went and booted me. I
Trevor Bayne (#29) leads the pack early in the race. (Bond Photo)
mean I can see where he would get angry with me squeezing him out, but there was no cause there for taking me out. I would have let him go just for courtesy for knowing that I messed up like that.”
BRUNNHOELZL BACK ON THE RIGHT TRACK
The last two races of the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series Southern Division have given George Brunnhoelzl III more to smile about than he’s had on the series in recent seasons. Brunnhoelzl followed up his first top-10 finish since 2004 at Montgomery two weeks ago with an 11th place finish at Peach State Speedway on Saturday night.
“We’re happy with the finish, but it was a frustrating night,” said Brunnhoelzl. “The rain really messed us up because we were going to try a couple of things in practice that we weren’t able to do. We qualified 10th and I thought we had a pretty good racecar. We slowly worked our way to the front.”
Brunnhoelzl’s slow march to the front was an effective one as Brunnhoelzl made it as high as fourth.
“We ran inside the top-five for three-quarters of the race and then the last set of tires, I don’t know if it was a bad set of tires or if the left front wore out because we ran 250 laps on it, but the car just unbelievably tight. I just couldn’t turn it. This track is so tight so you have to keep it on the bottom and every time I tried to keep it on the bottom it just slid up to the high side.
“I’d give anything to have the kind of car I had at the end of the race as I had at the beginning. I never even had to push the car, it was fast without having to change a thing. We took off and went to the front. I tried not to
Rogers finished 23rd, three laps off of the pace.
“It was a tough night, especially with as good as we’ve been running here lately,” said Rogers, who entered the night seventh in points, but left in ninth place in the standings. “We thought we were going to carry that momentum here tonight and we didn’t.
“We weren’t that great. We went back to some stuff we thought would work and qualified in the back. I burnt my stuff up in the beginning. We came in and put three new tires on the car and it was like nothing changed. The car was still junk. We ended up burning the left rear tire off
Andrew Rogers' pit crew goes to work on the #81.
of the car to where the cords were showing. We ended up going a couple of laps down. Finally, I just spun. I couldn’t’ hang on anymore. We came back in and put tires on and after that, the car was good.
“We still finished, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The car is still in one piece. We weren’t good enough to go up there and battle with anyone. We’ll take this as our mulligan for the year and go on. That’s all we can do.”