Woody Howard Slips By Gill for South GA Pro Cup Win by Elgin Traylor
Contact With Lapped Car Costs Gill the Lead Late
Woody Howard was the good-luck winner at South Georgia. (USAR/Kathy Bond Photos)
There are few things that Bobby Gill hasn’t done in a racecar, so when the veteran finds a new challenge, he goes after it. On Saturday night, the three-time USAR Hooters Pro Cup champion was looking to add another feat to his list of achievements by winning at South Georgia Speedway, but maybe the story this time is not that he did it, but the fact he almost did it.
“I knew he was going to be tough, I thought we were going to be beating doors. I was really surprised he hung on as good as he did,” said race winner Woody Howard in victory lane.
Howard passed Gill with eight laps to go claim the win. Gill had taken the lead on lap 162 and looked to be a shoe in to cruise to victory lane. However, lapped traffic tangled in front of the leader and caused a chain reaction that ended with contact that involved Gill. After the yellow flag flew, the fans came to their feet to see that Gill had been hit hard in the right side door. The damage was so bad that the veteran driver weaved left and right under yellow to get the remaining sheet metal to fall of the car.
The green flag flew with 30 laps to go and Gill leading them down to turn one. The damage evened the playing field for the top three cars with Michael Ritch and Howard in hot pursuit. Lap after lap, Ritch could get a look under Gill only to see the door slam at the hands of the 06 Ford Fusion. With 16 laps to go, a lapped car helped open up a lane for Howard to shoot into second place.
Gill started to make the fans believe that he could still win with half the right side bodywork missing from his car, but Woody Howard got a run going into turn one and made the move that captured his fifth career Pro Cup Win.
“I can hardly lift my arms up, that’s just good racing,” said Howard. “We had a blast and that’s what it’s all about. I am really excited about this season with having Steve Bird as the crew chief; he knows his stuff I can’t wait,”
Howard is now the points leader in the Southern Division.
Ritch finished second after he too got around Gill in the closing laps.
“Lapped traffic kind of cost us a little bit, Bobby (Gill) got into it with some of the boys down there and he got caught up in it. It messed his car up with the aerodynamics and we were all thinking we might have a chance. My car was better on longer runs, short runs I couldn’t really do a whole lot with them. But we had a good car and ended up second,” said Ritch.
Gill Started the Glover Food 250 the 17th spot, quickly by the 40-lap mark he was in the top ten. He led the most laps before ending up third with the damage.
“A lap car spun in front of me and some one hit him I was on the brakes sideways to avoid them and I climbed all over the side of him and messed the car up. It messed up the side bite. If there had been 15 to go, we would have been fine. We should have won the race but we came home third, we’ll go to the next one and try it again,” said a dejected Gill after the race.
Bobby Gill's car showed the worst for wear after the contact that cost him the win. (51 Photo)
Rounding out the top five were Chase Pistone and Shelby Howard. Sixth through tenth place finishers were Richard Boswell, Dange Hanniford, Buckshot Jones, Mart Nesbitt and Wade Day. Rookie Matt Hawkins who won his first Pro Cup start ended up 15th after contact with the wall in turn one.