Clay Rogers shot through a narrow opening in a four-wide sprint to the finish Saturday night at Langley Speedway to narrowly defeat rookie Lucas Ransone in the HAMPTON VIRGINIA 250 presented by Racing Electronics for his first USARacing Pro Cup victory this season.
The stage was set for the Hollywood script ending with two laps remaining in the 250-lap race on the 0.4-mile track. That's when Woody Howard's Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Bobby Gill's Ford Fusion and Ransone's Monte Carlo closed on the bumper of Rogers' Chevrolet Impala, which was leading. Headed into the third turn on the final lap they began jockeying for position and as they exited the fourth turn they were four wide with the checkered flag in sight. At the finish, Rogers edged ahead of Ransone by 0.058 second.
“That track really opened up a second, third, man, even a fourth groove there, I guess, at the end!” said an excited Rogers, who dominated the race, leading 116 laps in his C & C Boiler Sales & Service Chevy. “I think it was more fun to watch then it was to be in the car.
“Where did Lucas Ransone come from? Both his team and Bobby Gill’s team had different tire strategies and they did a great job!”
Rogers' and his crew's excitement overflowed into the crowd after the stunning victory.
“How many of you guys are Tony Stewart fans?” a jubilant Rogers screamed just before he and his team scrambled to the top of the fence.
Ransone's shocking second-place finish was the best of his young career.
“The car was really pretty tight the whole race, it was just hard to handle. But we stuck with it,” said Ransone, who leads the USARacing Pro Cup's rookie standings. “I knew there was gonna be a big finish. When you have three cars going for the lead like that, it can get wild. I learned patience and to stick with it and never back down (in) this race.”
Howard, the hometown favorite and former full-time Pro Cup driver, took the lead at the start and led the first 51 laps. With one lap remaining, he was second, hanging onto Rogers' back bumper. But with the mad scramble to the checkered flag, Howard's Dean Motorsports Chevy fell to fourth.
“Almost. I waited right there, waited until the end and I thought Clay and I were pretty equal,” said Howard, who drove in a 100-lap Late Model event that immediately followed the HAMPTON VIRGINIA 250. “When I moved up beneath (Rogers), Bobby Gill just came out of nowhere. That was fun racing today, though.”
The first of eight caution flags waved shortly after Caleb Holman's Food Country USA Chevy Monte Carlo led the field to the green flag before a packed grandstand. Bill Bigley Jr.'s Peerless Woodworking Ford spun on the backstretch on the first lap and USARacing Pro Cup officials ordered a restart. It was then that Howard grabbed the lead.
Current point leader Drew Herring slowed the field for the second time on lap 68 when his BTS Tire & Wheel Distributors Ford spun. He gathered it back up and recovered to finish ninth.
Gill fought back to his third-place finish after colliding with J.P. Morgan's Chevrolet Impala and being sent to the end of the longest line on lap 172.
Jeff Agnew also fought back from a spin in his Team 7/ Mark IV Suzuki Ford for an eighth-place finish. Agnew went to a backup car after developing a bad vibration during practice earlier in the day.
Rogers averaged 80.527 mph in the race slowed for 55 laps by the eight caution periods.
Derek Kale led at the halfway mark, but developed a steering issue in his Heritage Truck Centers Chevrolet Impala that left him 17th in the rundown.
Ten of the 21-car field finished on the lead lap.
Next on the USARacing Pro Cup Series schedule is Winchester Speedway in Winchester, Ind., on June 6. Check www.usarprocup.com for the latest news and updates.