Clay Rogers has won some big races in his Pro Cup career, but perhaps none bigger then his latest triumph at Rockingham. Not only did the win put the ball in his court to potentially win his third Pro Cup series championship, but he also pocketed a total of $24,017 thanks to a bonus for winning from the pole.
“Man what a fun racetrack,” said Rogers. “It's great to come and race and to win here means so much more. We have done it twice now, but the payday was awful big. I won $60,000 in a race at Concord a few years back and that was my claim to fame, but I'll take $24,000 any day for a win.”
Rogers dominated the event and his victory was only in jeopardy as others cycled around on pit strategy. At one point Rogers slipped as far back as sixth, however he knew that more caution flags would give him the opportunity to change tires latter on in the race.
“I was never worried that another yellow wasn't going to come out,” said Rogers. “We knew the later we took tires the better and paid off for us at the end. Once we got tires all we had to do was worry about were restarts.”
Bobby Gill made a late race charge for second and John Gibson scored a career best third after running with the leaders all afternoon long.
“This was the most fun track on the schedule,” said Gibson. “You can run anywhere around this track and make it work. I am almost [surprised] that this is our first top three because we have run fast before and been able to finish one off until now. We are ending the year on a high note so our confidence has been high.”
JP Morgan and Lucas Ransome completed the top five as Jeff Agnew got squeezed back to sixth on the final lap. Shane Hall, Bryan Silas, Brandon Ward and Allen Purkhiser rounded out the top 10 as the only cars on the lead lap.
J.P. Morgan Battles Hard on the Track and Off
Pro Cup series journeyman J.P. Morgan has had a banner year which has included his first career win in the series. Better yet he heads to the final race as the driver who has the best shot of winning the championship other then leader Clay Rogers. Only a handful of points back, Morgan could end up being the big spoiler in 2009 after his fourth place finish at Rockingham.
“Our day was filled with problems,” said Morgan. “We got the car good at the end and I used up my tires, but still a fourth-place finish is good.”
Morgan was easy to spot at Rockingham as he walked around on race day with a bandage on his head. He hadn't been in a fight, but he did have a minor scare earlier in the week.
“I am not injured, but I had surgery on Thursday,” said Morgan. “Everyone needs to make sure they get themselves checked. I never thought I would have skin cancer, but they found some melanoma on my ear, we're alright, but please make sure you get checked because I am one of the lucky ones."
Bobby Gill Still Fighting As Season Winds Down
With only one race to go in the 2009 season, Bobby Gill will be looking to end the season with a victory.
It's odd to think that it would be his first of the season, but in reality Gill has hit a dry spell that dates back to 2007. Don't let that fool you into thinking that he's had a bad season though - because the four-time Pro Cup Champion has logged nine top five finishes this year and has a chance to win the title at South Boston.
“We have been having some trouble with bump stops and we pulled them out on the final caution and the car came to life,” said Gill. “I didn't realize I was running those guys down like we were at the end. I need a few laps for the car to come in.”
Gill's late race charge almost landed him in victory lane, but the 46-time Pro Cup winner had to settle for second at the end.
“We're still learning and we were close to getting into victory lane today,” added Gill.
Mike Garvey Returns to Action at Rockingham
It had been over a year since Mike Garvey had raced in the Pro Cup series, but he fell right in line and contended for the win until engine trouble left him parked with only a handful of laps to go. Even with the DNF you could see a smile in Garvey that only comes out when he get's to strap on a helmet and race.
“We dropped a valve and the thing started laying down towards the end,” said Garvey. “It was good, we stopped too early for tires, but he had a lot of fun today.”
Garvey led 24 laps and if the race had gone green the final 60 laps he would have easily won as he was the only car with newer rubber in the top five. Even Garvey himself said that ifs don't win races.
“I should have tried to lap the field,” said Garvey. “If, if, if. They don't win races.”
-Drew Herring's day ended early at Rockingham as did his championship chances. Herring was involved in a wreck with Dana White on the 12th laps of the race.
-Bryce Walker and Allen Purkhiser had and interesting finish as they crossed the line at the end of the race hooked together. Purkhiser finished 10th while Walker finished 11th.
-AJ Frank ran strong until a blow motor put him out on the 87th lap.
- Shane Hall has run two races in 2009 and finished seventh in both.
-Youngster Logan Ruffin made some noise by leading 11 laps, including at halfway. He plans on racing full time in Pro Cup in 2010.