Trevor Bayne Wins A Wild One At “The Beach” by Jeremy Troiano
Pro Cup Drivers Have Mixed Emotions After Green-White-Checker Finish
Myrtle Beach normally leaves a lot of cars crunched... but not on this night. It made for an interesting finish. (Kathy Bond photos)
There wasn’t much typical about Saturday night’s USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series event at Myrtle Beach Speedway other than the multi-grooves of racing that the track always provides.
But Myrtle Beach is a track where normally veterans prevail because of the track’s rough surface and finesse it takes to make it to the end.
Nope. Not this night.
And because of the rough surface, the track normally lends itself to plenty of cautions which can knock pit strategy out of the window.
Nope. Not this night.
Instead, two young kids, each under 19-years of age, found themselves battling for the win in a race that saw just three caution flags over the 250-lap race, a 135-lap green-flag run and a 94-lap green-flag run.
It made the rain that waited for just minutes after the checkered flag to fall seem halfway normal.
When all was said an done though, there was one very happy driver in Victory Lane
(Trevor Bayne), another driver happy with a career-best finish despite leading up until the white flag (Ben Stancill) and one veteran fumed about his third-place finish (Mike Garvey).
“It was crazy out there,” said Bayne, who scored his second win of the season and first of the Championship Series. “These green-white checkers are crazy. I am starting to like them. It gets the fans into it. We came from fifth to second at Iowa and fourth to first here. That’s exciting if you ask me.”
The finish was exciting too. But in different ways, depending on who you ask.
But then, Mark McFarland’s car slapped the outside wall in turn one, setting up for a shootout. With just five laps to go and a certain green-white-checkered finish coming after the wrecked was cleaned up, were the four leaders going to pit for fresh tires or stay out? Three different strategies showed up.
Stancill and third-place Garvey came into the pits when they opened the first time around. Bayne and fourth-place AJ Frank (who was nearly a lap down before the caution) stayed on the track. The next time around, Bayne elected to pit, while Frank still stayed out.
It set up a shootout between the top-four cars, with Frank still on old tires and the other three on new tires, but with Stancill still leading the way.
As the green flew, it took less than one turn for Stancill to make his way around the sitting duck of Frank. But the action was behind Stancill. As Garvey passed Frank high, Bayne made a whole between the two and came out on the backstretch in second-place. Setting his sights on Stancill, Bayne was determined.
As the cars got the white flag, Stancill had a mirror full of Bayne and Bayne let him know he was there. The two made slight contact with Stancill going up the track and Bayne taking the lead.
Stancill then held off a charge from Garvey coming to the checkers, as Bayne cruised on to the victory.
Trevor Bayne was able to pick up his second win of the season.
The final two laps left Bayne happy, Stancill excited (but maybe a little disappointed too) and Garvey mad.
“(Crew Chief) Keith (Hinkein) just kept me calm,” said Bayne. “I got a little down when we missed our pit window there. The leaders came in and I knew we could have been leading because we have an excellent pit crew. He just told me we still had this.
“We came out fourth and had to go for it. We went three-wide for second and then got under the #9 car (Stancill) after the white flag. He drove me clean. Anyone else might have chopped down when someone gets under him. I let him know I was there and touched him a little bit. Whatever it takes to win. This is just great.”
Stancill’s misfortunes played into Bayne’s fortunes. And anyone else might have been pissed for a variety of reasons. Stancill could have won the race without the late caution and without the bump from Bayne. But he was still ecstatic to grab a career-best finish.
Ben Stancill (#9) almost picked up his first-career Pro Cup win on Saturday night.
“I look at it as an accomplishment, so I’m not disappointed,” said Stancill. “We had to take a provisional after qualifying just to make this race. We drove from 33rd to second before halfway of the race. You can’t beat that. Then, we were leading 50 laps later. We had the car on the long run.
“If the caution hadn’t come out there with five to go, we’d be over there in victory lane. We had them covered. What do you do though?”
Garvey, one of the few veterans that had a really good night, wasn’t nearly as pleased with how the race turned out.
He thought the driving was a little aggressive.
“You got a green-white-checkered,” said Garvey. “We all knew AJ was in trouble
because he didn’t pit. I was hoping I could get outside Ben before he got outside AJ. But Ben got outside AJ and I was right behind Ben and here comes Trevor bouncing off of everything. It’s a good thing we all weren’t wrecked. I know he wanted to win, but sometimes you need to use your head. Nine times out of 10, you are going to wreck a lot of cars. I guess that’s the way he wants to race.
“I don’t like how it came down. I don’t like someone blasting off on everyone. We could have raced like you were supposed to race, not like cavemen. Trevor just comes banging in there like a bull in a china shop. He about wrecked everyone. He’s a good racer, but that isn’t how you race. He won though.”
With the win, and Bobby Gill’s misfortune, Bayne moved into second in the Pro Cup point standings.
Boswell’s New Team Working Well
Even though he wasn’t in contention to win the race at Myrtle Beach, Richard Boswell has people take notice that he was there.
He was just there in a different car.
For the second-straight race, Boswell teamed up with Mike Laughlin Jr. to drive the #7n in the Pro Cup Championship Series. Boswell had drove for JR Motorsports (the team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.) during the regular season, but when Junior announced his JR Motorsports team was merging with Hendrick Motorsports, the Pro Cup operation ceased to exist.
“Derek Kale used to drive Mike’s stuff,” said Boswell. “He was going to drive his own stuff during the championship series. That deal with JR Motorsports folded up before we had a chance to finish the year. I guess that is what way it goes in racing these days. We had a top-five car with Mike at Iowa, but didn’t get the finish after some mechanical problems. We had a good car here tonight too.”
Boswell finished the race in fifth after winning his first-career pole.
Richard Boswell might have had the same uniform on, but his new team left him wiht some solid results.
Frank’s Costly Decision?
With just two laps to go, AJ Frank knew he was a sitting duck after staying out on the track when the rest of the lead lap cars came in and pitted for fresh tires at the end of the Myrtle Beach event.
But Frank didn’t sit around and sulk about the decision, which left him fourth at the end of the night. Instead, he looked at the bright side
“It wasn’t my decision (not to pit),” said Frank. “Had I known when everyone dropped down how many cars were on the lead lap, I am sure we would have made a different decision. We were fourth before the caution and finished fourth. Plus, we gained five points by leading a lap. So it wasn’t too bad because of that. There is nothing to hang our heads about.”
The move took him from 13th to seventh in the point standings.
Trevor Bayne (#29) had a big night in the points, while Gary St. Amant (#7) took a big hit.
Points Race Tightens Up
The points at Myrtle Beach shook up. And it was good for some, bad for others.
Gary St. Amant came into the night second in points, but left Myrtle Beach fourth, 66 points back after suffering mechanical problems and falling out of the event. Matt Carter was third, but fell to sixth after his win at Iowa. Shane Wallace dropped from sixth to 11th.
But as bad as it was for them, it was good for others.
Trevor Bayne jumped from four to second, just 16 points back of Bobby Gill. And Mike Garvey, who was fifth, is now third.
But Gill, on the strength of an 11th-place finish, still holds the lead with just two races to go.
Trevor v. Joey
Trevor Bayne and Joey Logano are often compared to one another. It comes with good reason.
Logano, who was in attendance on Saturday night, is the youngest winner in the history of the series, Bayne is the second youngest winner in the series and both seemed destined for greatness. But Bayne hopes to one-up his friend in the end.
"I’ll take [being the youngest champion] over being the youngest winner," said the 16-year-old Bayne. "But, hopefully, I can tie him up in wins in the next few races."
How close are they?
In 32 Hooters Pro Cup starts, Logano scored three wins. Through his first 29 Hooters Pro Cup starts, Bayne has two wins.
Few Cautions At Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is normally a place full of cautions. Not on this night though.
Gary Helton brought out the first caution when he spun his car on his own 94 laps into the event. Then, a big wreck with Shane Wallace, Clay Jones and a few others happened on lap 112. But after that, it wasn’t until lap 246 for another caution, when Mark McFarland hit the wall.