It was a steaming hot day at the South Georgia Motorsports Park on Saturday for the Sunoco 250, and things continued to heat up on the track as the green flag waved for the second race of the 2009 season. The track crowned its seventh different winner in as many races when polesitter, Drew Herring, took the win after leading 137 laps and earning his very first victory in the USARacing Pro Cup Series.
"This really is a great victory for us," commented the driver of the No. 22 BTS Tire&Wheel Distributors Ford Fusion. "This win was a long time coming."
Herring brought the field to the green and dominated the first 137 laps before giving up the lead to come into the pits for fresh tires. Back out on the track and back in the pack, Herring would have to work his way back up through the field. The No. 54s of Clay Rogers, who was leading at the time, hit the wall on the frontstretch on lap 242, handing the lead to Herring with just seven laps to go.
"I really didn’t want to win like that and I’m glad Clay is alright," said Herring. "I wanted to race him for the win. I just really want to thank everyone for making this happen and for standing behind me."
The day began with a clean practice session as the track began to get toasty by the time qualifying began. Drew Herring posted the quickest lap time and was awarded the Stutmasters.com Pole Award.
"We were really fast all day," Herring said. "I think we would have been disappointed if we didn’t get the pole. Now we just have to go out there and keep our nose clean and bring home a good finish."
As the start of the race approached, the field lined up in the "Missing Man" formation on the frontstretch for the autograph session before the race in memory of former Pro Cup competitor, Matt Hawkins, who lost his life earlier this year.
"He was a good friend and a good competitor," commented Derek Kale, driver of the No. 22n Heritage Truck Centers Chevy Impala. "We all have memory decals on the car this weekend. It’s a cool thing to remember him by."
The green flag waves and with only one caution in the first 54 laps of the Sunoco 250, Herring looked to have the car to beat without much pressure from behind. But once that second caution flag flew, the spins and cautions kept on flying, tightening up the field each time. The No. 06s USG Sheetrock Ford Fusion of Bobby Gill was able to pull up to the back bumper of Herring, but was unable to pull off the pass when another caution came out for the No. 22s who had spun in Turn 2.
Most of the lead lap cars come into pit on lap 133 except the No. 00 of Rookie, Lucas Ransone, and No. 15s of Bill Plemons. Ransone would lead for the next 21 laps before a tire issue put him into the wall in Turn 2. This would allow Plemons to lead the race for nearly 46 laps when Clay Rogers would then take over the lead.
Rogers seemed to be taking off once taking the lead, but the No. 73n of Jeff Agnew had a Victory in mind. It was a heated battle between the two for several laps when Agnew suddenly developed a vibration, causing him to drop back through the field.
Despite the already caution-filled race, there was one more caution to be had and that belonged to the leader of Rogers. Rogers hits the wall hard and brings out a red flag. It also brings Herring back to the lead. Herring makes one last clean restart and is able to hold off the No. 28s of Billy Bigley, Jr. for the win and a champagne celebration in Victory Lane.
Next up for the USARacing Pro Cup Series is Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA on Saturday, May 23rd.