Clay Rogers Puts a Hurting on the Field at Winchester
Pro Cup Finish Isn't Even Close, Is Run at Winchester 400 Next?
By Mike Twist and Dennis Kimble
Right now, Clay Rogers is on top of the USARacing Pro Cup world.  He's now won two straight races on the tour under very different circumstances.  His victory at Langley Speedway came in a tight and close battle to the checkered flag.  His latest victory, which came on Saturday at Winchester Speedway (IN), wasn't nearly as close.

Rogers started from the pole, led all but six laps of the race and just plain put a whipping on the rest of the 21-car field.

“I can't describe it,” said Rogers.  “I knew that we would have a good racecar, but I didn't think that it would be that dominant.  I can't say enough about these guys who prepare the racecar every week.  They just do a great job and bring a beautiful racecar to the track every week.  I just sit behind the steering wheel and hold that.  It was on a rail tonight.  It was by far the best car that I've had here, this was my third trip here.  It might even be the best car that I've ever had in my career.  I'm pretty impressed with the team here tonight.”

To beat Rogers on this day, a different approach than just plain outrunning him would be needed.  That is exactly the type of play that Bobby Gill made when he only took two tires on a late race pit stop.  That gave him track position enough to lead the six laps of the day that Rogers didn't, but it wasn't enough to win….or even finish in the top five.  Gill's gamble resulted in a sixth-place finish as the first car one lap down at the finish.

“Well, I knew that Bob had only taken lefts and this track is pretty hard on right side tires,” said Rogers.  “I knew that he'd be able to run fast for a few laps, but that it would be pretty hard for him to hold off the guys with four new tires when he only had lefts.  I think that he was banking on a caution later so he could come back in and put right side tires on, but that came too late for him.  He didn't get the lucky dog either because it was inside of 10 laps to go.  Bob did a good job and they played some wild pit strategy.  It almost worked out for him, but not quite.”

With Gill's demise from contention, that left Rogers dealing with Derek Kale late in the race, but that battle would not materialize.

“Derek Kale drove a great race and raced us clean.  We just happened to find a hole and slipped right through there, but he and Birdie…everyone on that team….did a great job as well.”

Kale eventually finished in the fourth position while J.P Morgan and Caleb Holman finished behind Rogers and took down podium positions.

Rogers' dominance at Winchester was slightly surprising because he does not have many career laps on the tricky high-banked oval.  Still, his experience there, which already included a victory, was more than that of his C&C Racing team.

“I haven't been here since 2003.  We won the Pro Cup race here in 2002 and the next year, I think that there were 36 cars here and I got turned around on the track and I think that I got hit 36 times.

“They've [the team] have never been here.  None of the guys on this team have ever seen this racetrack.  That's surprising because they have raced all over the country.  They've been to Salem and that helped prepare them for here.  We just came here pretty much with our Rockingham set-up and didn't change much.  I think that we moved the track bar a bit and made some shock changes.  I think that we also pulled a spring rubber out and that is what we did over two days.  So I'm pretty impressed with the job that they did to prepare the car.”

Now, Rogers is pondering a possible run in the late season Winchester 400.

“I certainly hope so.  I've always wanted to come here and race [the 400].  We've had Super Late Models and run the Snowball Derby.  We wont that.  We've always wanted to come up here, but I've always been racing in Pro Cup and it's hard to get away to build a racecar out of the series during the season.  We're on the Pro Cup deal pretty hard.  But Billy Hess and I are getting ready to sit down and build something.  Hopefully, it will be something that nobody has ever seen before and it would be great to bring it up here and try it out.  I'll do whatever I can to come back.”

Clay Rogers's winning #54 machine.  (Dennis Kimble Photos)
Rogers had the benefit of four new tires late in the race.
Rogers celebrates with his team - who he credits for the victory.