Fogleman Ends Pro Cup Drought at Southern National USAR PR
Five Years and 94 Races Later, the “Short Track Shark” Strikes Again
In the age of cradle-to-cockpit racing, veterans always have to answer one question: How long are you going to do this?
Jay Fogleman, 41, won’t have to answer that question anytime soon.
After 94 starts without a victory in the Hooters Pro Cup Series, Fogleman won the Dan Duncan Memorial Aaron’s 250 at Southern National Raceway Park on Sunday afternoon.
“The best thing about this win is that maybe my wife, kids and other people will quit asking me how long I’m going to keep racing,” joked Fogleman, driver of the No. 4n Speedco/The Works Ford. “As long as I can do this, I’m going to be racing for long time. To know that we’re competitive, and still doing it with our own stuff, it’s rewarding and real important to me.”
Jay Fogleman celebrates his long-awaited Pro Cup victory at Southern National. (USAR/Kathy Bond Photo)
Mark McFarland, driver of the No. 81s Sears Auto Center Chevrolet, swept around the outside of the pole-sitter Benny Gordon on the opening lap and led the first 85 laps of the event. Gordon kept his No. 66n Samuel Metals Ford glued to McFarland’s bumper during that time. But after the duo emerged from the pits, they found themselves buried deep in the field for the restart. The lost track position wouldn’t be the only problem Gordon would have to overcome.
Just after the halfway mark, Gordon started to lose positions quickly. He went from sixth to ninth and reported a tire going down. Gordon caught a break when the caution waved on Lap 139, allowing him to come to pit road under caution.
“We were sitting pretty good, but we cut a tire,” said Gordon. “Fortunately it was a left rear, so I was still able to keep going. But it really cost us, especially at a track like this, where track position is everything.”
Gordon restarted 22nd with 100 laps remaining. With McFarland running sixth, it looked as though Gordon’s 45-point lead would evaporate. But Gordon dodged a slew of late-race wrecks and salvaged an eighth-place finish.
“It wasn’t fun having to come through the field, especially with some of the driving I saw back there,” said Gordon, who now holds a 27-point lead with one race left in the Championship Series. “But it could’ve been worse.”
Fortunately for Gordon, McFarland wasn’t able to capitalize on Gordon’s sub-par finish. McFarland brought an ill-handling car home fourth.
“Our car was unbelievably tight from the beginning of the race,” said McFarland. “It was way different than it was in practice, or anytime during the weekend. I’m proud of how hard these guys work; we just missed it. To bring this car home fourth, I’m pretty happy with that.”
A.J. Frank, driver of the No. 56n Strutmasters.com Chevrolet, completed the top five.
The Aaron’s 250 was slowed 16 times for 88 laps of caution and featured four lead changes among four drivers.
Aaron’s 250 Notebook
To the Nines
Drew Herring started ninth and finished ninth in the Aaron’s 250. But the rookie’s day was anything but stable. He ran up front, out back and even a lap down during the race before posting a top-10 finish.
“It was eventful for sure,” said Drew Herring, who picked up the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Award and took over the rookie point lead. “The car was really too tight, a whole lot tighter than I really like it here. We were able to fight through it and run with Mark and Benny at the start. We pitted and tried to fix it, but the car was still too tight. I had the brake balance all the way to the rear, driving it in sideways like a dirt car. That’s the only way I could get to turn. Then we got spun and lost a lap, and I had to come back through the field. It seemed like every wreck happened right in front of me, but we made it through. Overall, it wasn’t a good day, but we’ll take it.”
Herring is now 20 points ahead of Hunter Robbins in the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year standings.
At first glance, Gary St. Amant and James Buescher have little in common. St. Amant is in the twilight of his storied career, while Buescher has become one of the best young racers in the country. But the two were eerily similar in the Aaron’s 250. Neither driver had cars capable of clipping off quick laps, but both inside the top three. What gives?
“I’d say experience,” said St. Amant. “James doesn’t have a lot of experience, but he has a guy like Kevin Cywinski in his ear. He didn’t have a car that could lay down a lap, but it was a comfortable racecar. We both had good, balanced cars.”
Jay Fogleman went the final 230 laps on his BFGoodrich Tires g-Force radials to win the Aaron’s 250…The fastest lap of the weekend was turned by Mark McFarland, who lapped SNRP in 14.945 seconds at 96.353 mph…
Ironically, Fogleman was chasing longtime rival Jeff Agnew, who led a race-high 152 laps, for the win at SNRP. The same driver he was chasing when he last went to Victory Lane at Motor Mile Speedway on July 19, 2003. And the same driver he’s had numerous run-ins with over the years.
“It was great to be racing with Jeff for the win, but it was also gut wrenching,” said Fogleman. “You don’t want another issue between us. We’ve had so much history together. We’d both take back everything that’s happened between us over the years, and we’re good friends off the racetrack. I was on pins and needles, but I was able to get by him clean.”
And Fogleman made his move just in time.
With less than 20 laps remaining, Fogleman slipped past James Buescher for second and closed on Agnew for the lead. On Lap 238, Fogleman got a fender under Agnew coming off Turn 4 and completed the pass on Lap 239. The caution flag waved. Had the caution waved moments earlier, Fogleman’s pass would have been negated. However, it may not have mattered.
Just after losing the lead, Agnew’s No. 73n Team 7 Ford began to sputter, forcing him to pit for fuel with just a handful of laps remaining. In the final eight-lap dash to the finish, Buescher tried to pressure Fogleman into a mistake, but it didn’t happen. Buescher, driver of the No. 84s Mercedes Homes Chevrolet, finished .675 seconds behind. But the second-place finish was a career-best for Buescher in the Hooters Pro Cup Series.
“We’ve been real close a lot this year, but we just can’t seem to win one of these races,” said Buescher. “We’ve got one more try this year at Rockingham, but I really thought we were going to get it done today. I knew we were faster than [Agnew]. Jay was pressuring me for second and I got too loose trying to get by [Agnew] and he got underneath me. Second place is good, but you always want to win.”
Behind Buescher, Gary St. Amant was just happy to get out of SNRP with all the fenders on his car. After back-to-back DNFs to start the Championship Series, St. Amant stayed out of trouble and picked up his first podium finish since the event at Jennerstown Speedway on July 26.
“My No. 1 goal coming down here to Southern National was to get out of here with a car in one piece,” said St. Amant, driver of the No. 7n JEGS.com/Speedco Chevrolet. “We had a new car here, but that didn’t work out, so we went back to our old reliable, thinking we could get us a top-10 finish. But as the race went on, we kept getting better and better. We couldn’t lay down that fast lap, but the car was comfortable all day, and that’s what you need on a tight track. Plus, we had great strategy.”
St. Amant’s pit strategy was also used by Fogleman and Buescher as well. All three completed their stops by Lap 50. The leaders, on the other hand, waited until Lap 86 to come to pit road, hoping new tires would make a difference down the stretch.
James Buescher (#84) had his best-career USAR finish.