Abold Puts Himself in Right Place at Right Time in Pro Cup USAR Pro Cup Series PR
Veteran Wins Rain-Shortened Race at South Boston
The only person hoping for rain in the Miller Lite 250 at South Boston Speedway was Danny Abold. On Lap 161, Mother Nature granted his wish in the Sears Auto Center Northern Division opener on Saturday, April 16.
Abold was one of the few drivers that elected not to come to pit road early in the race and when the skies opened for good around 11:30 p.m., Abold picked up his first Hooters Pro Cup win.
“There are three things you got to have in racing. You gotta have luck, experience and hard work,” said Abold, driver of the No. 6n U-Pull U-Save Chevrolet. “I got the luck tonight, my crew chief [Keith Hinkein] has all the experience in the world and all my crew guys put in the hard work to put me where I was when the rain came.
“I'm tickled pink. I knew we could do it, but it's really tough against these guys. It's a high-caliber series, and we're a smaller team. You can't really expect to run in the front with these guys very often. I'm just thankful we were able to pull it off.”
Abold's unfamiliarity with the most of the frontrunners may have benefited him in the long run.
Benny Gordon, who started from the Awesome Awnings Pole, pitted on Lap 17 and gave the lead to Abold, who started ninth in the 32-car field. But Gordon quickly charged back to the front, trying feverishly to retake the lead before the rain came. Gordon ducked under Abold several times, but the 3-time Northern Division champ
couldn't make it past Abold before the caution waved for persistent showers just before the halfway mark.
“I didn't know who the guy was, and I haven't raced against him at all,” said Gordon, driver of the No. 66n Samuel Metals Ford. “It wasn't that he was bad; he was holding his line and wasn't giving me any room. In hindsight, I was too patient with [Abold] because I knew he had to pit. I figured when he had to pit that I would get the lead and take off.”
At the time, Gordon didn't realize his last chance had passed. On Lap 160, the bottom dropped out and halted the Miller Lite 250 on Lap 161, giving Abold his long-awaited first victory.
And Abold didn't care that it came before scheduled distance was reached.
“We'll take them anyway we can get them,” he said.
Danny Abold (#6) races with Benny Gordon (#66) at South Boston. (Kathy Bond/USAR Photos)
Abold wasn't the only feel-good story of the night. Rookie Mikey Kile, driver of the No. 65 VisVisa Energy Drink Chevorlet, started third and finished third. It was Kile's first race back in the series since his ill-fated debut at USA Int'l (Fla.) Speedway a few season's ago that ended in a scary crash in Turn 2.
“I felt like I really deserved to be here tonight,” said Kile, who competed in the UARA-Stars Series last season. “We made a qualifying run in practice and the car wasn't where it needed to be. We made some changes before qualifying and got the car right. I feel like we had a top-two car. The rain kind of put a damper on everything and we finished third. But it's a good start for us.”
With his third-place finish, Kile took home an extra $1,000 for being the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race.
“Our main goal we set for the season was to win the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year title, so tonight was a huge step for us,” said Kile. “All these guys at Mac Hill deserve the credit. They work their tails off. My job is easy when the car drives like that.”
Mike Hampton, driver of the No. 31n Eaton Electrical Ford, also had a great-driving car. After several seasons of struggles, Hampton unloaded fast, ran up front all night and posted his career-best finish by coming home fourth.
Abold's team enjoys victory lane.
“We had a great practice session and backed it up with a great qualifying effort,” said Hampton, who started sixth in the 32-car field. “We pitted early and came back through the field and put ourselves in a position we wanted to be in, then the rains came. We don't want to ever end under rain, but we got a finish we liked. A top-five finish is good for my stats.”
Jay Fogleman, driver of the No. 4n Speedco/The Works Ford, picked up his 74th top-five finish by rounding out the top five in the Miller Lite 250.
Derrick Kelley, Brandon Ward, Derek Kale, Gary St. Amant and Tim Bainey Jr. rounded out the top 10.
Miller Lite 250 Notebook
On one hand…
Jay Fogleman had mixed emotions after the Miller Lite 250. On one hand, he was happy to start the season with a top-five finish after needing six races to pick up his first top-five last year. But, on the other hand, Fogleman felt his car was better than a fifth-place machine, possibly even the best in the field.
“Starting out the season like this is good for us with our new sponsor, SPEEDCO, and Darin Odle [co-owner],” said Fogleman. “But on the other hand, it's disappointing. We already had our tires and fuel. We really didn't have to race anybody for track position. This is the best race car I've ever had here. I really don't know what we could've done different, except it not rain.”
The Miller Lite 250 field had several Greased Lightning Southern Division competitors in the field, but none ended the night in the top 20.
Former SoBo regular Matt Lofton was the highest-finishing Southern Division driver, coming home 21st. Drew Herring, the top rookie in the Southern Division and former SoBo track champion, finished 28th. Bobby Gill, the defending Hooters Pro Cu Series champion, caught a piece of an early accident and finished 31st. Former SoBo champion Frank Deiny Jr. finished last after an early-race crash.
If last year is any indicator, Brandon Ward will be tough again in the 2008. Ward
struggled through the opening weekend at SoBo last year before going on a tear over
the rest of the season.
In the Miller Lite 250, Ward and his Randy Humphrey Racing teammates lost two
engines in practice, borrowed a backup powerplant from Bobby Gill and still managed
to finish seventh.
Benny Gordon led every practice session and set a new track record in qualifying,
but the 3-time Northern Division champion came up one position shy of a perfect
“I understand it, but I don't have to like it,” Gordon said of the rain-shortened event. “We had a rocket ship since we unloaded. So to have to settle for second, I'm not happy about it.”
David “Buggy” Pletcher showed his talent last season by turning rookie Ben Stancill into a legitimate threat in the Hooters Pro Cup Series. This season, Pletcher, owner of DLP Motorsports, has a new project in Mike Hampton. After Hampton's fourth-place finish in the season opener, Pletcher's phone may be ringing a bit more.
“I was about to hang the helmet up [before I teamed up with Buggy],” said Hampton. “I thought it was me, but this proved to me that I just needed the right people in the right place.”