St. Amant The Rookie, Puryear Back, Fogleman Ready For Break
ST. AMANT WRAPS UP ROOKIE CROWN
It is hard to believe, at 41 years of age, that anyone can call two-time ASA National Champion and short track racing legend Gary St. Amant a rookie. But now, that is what he will be expecting them to call him, as St. Amant locked up the ProCup Northern Division rookie honors just by starting Sunday's race at South Boston (VA).
St. Amant really didn't have much of a challenge in the rookie department. As a rookie, St. Amant sits third in the point standings. The next closest rookie, Sam Fullone, sits 13th, a whopping 445 points behind St. Amant.
It is a stark contrast to the Southern Division rookie points race, which is a heated battle between Brad Rogers and Matt Carter.
“It's an honor to win the Northern Division Rookie of the Year,” said St. Amant after the race. “I missed Rookie of the Year in ASA back in 1986 and it really hurt me back then. Time goes by and you really forget about things, but I never forgot about that. That makes this all the more special. If we would have lost this though, it probably would have hurt more than the happiness of winning.”
St. Amant lost the ASA rookie title to Kenny Wallace in 1986.
However, the rookie points will start over and St. Amant will gun for the overall ProCup Rookie of the Year when the series starts the five-race Championship Series in September at Jennerstown (PA). The overall ProCup Rookie of the Year is worth $25,000.
AGNEW USES BUMP AND RUN
Former ProCup champion Jeff Agnew hasn't quite had the season he was looking for in 2004. Bad luck has kept him from several top three finishes and a couple of wins here and there.
Agnew was fast though on Sunday at South Boston. But a couple of miscues kept him from reaching leader Benny Gordon by the time the checkers fell.
“We've been right there all year. We've just had some bad luck and haven't finished the races,” said Agnew.
“The big thing here is that it is so hard to pass. Gary St. Amant is one of the very best race car drivers I've ever seen. I never got to race against him much except this year and that guy hits his marks lap after lap. He just doesn't make any mistakes.
“Late in the race there, I finally had to get into him coming off of two just to slide by him. I hope he understands. I needed to get by him if I had a shot at it. I just waited too late to do it.
St. Amant said using the bumper and having it used on you is something to expect at a place like South Boston.
“These guys aren't afraid to use the bumper on you,” said St. Amant. “Any short track you go to, especially a place like South Boston, you know you are going to get the bumper used on you and likewise, you better use the bumper if you are going to get any type of finish out of it.
“There were a couple of times I could have used it. It was early in the race and was no sense. Late in the race, (Jeff) Agnew got me and we lost a couple of spots. Ended up fifth. It just happened.”
Gary St. Amant locked up the Northern Division rookie title at South Boston Speedway on Sunday. (51 Photos)
Gary St. Amant got roughed up at th end, but still hung on for fifth.
SAMMONS DUMPED FROM THE LEAD
Danny Sammons was pretty close to not coming to South Boston, despite being sixth in the point standings. After several motor problems and bad luck over the last few weeks, the team needed to regroup for the championship series.
But they did come. And most a large portion of the midpart of the race, found themselves leading the event. However, contact from behind by then second-place Johnny Rumley on lap 202 sent Sammons spinning and to the back of the field.
“We took our four tires early and found ourselves in the lead,” said Sammons. “When I was in clean air, the car was good. The car worked. They weren't going to pass me unless they wrecked me and they wrecked me.
“We blew up three motors in the last month or so and we've really struggled. We almost didn't come. We came out and were leading the race and to have something like that take us out; it just sucks.
“It was totally out of the blue. I was pulling them out of the corner. Once I go the tires warm though, we leveled off. Rumley ran in on me and just hooked me and ran through my door and we spun out. We got back to ninth or something. It is frustrating though. I'm not too happy now.”
"We’ve got a magnet on us," said Rumley. "We’ve got to change our luck; it’s got to get better.
"(The leader) just changed where he decided to stop, and it was time to go. I got into the back of him, and then the car behind me couldn’t get checked up and pushed me into him again.”
Sammons finished eighth. Rumley was 10th.
PURYEAR RETURNS WITH A THIRD-PLACE FINISH
All-around good guy Stacy Puryear returned to the ProCup Series for just the third time in 2004 and finished with a remarkable run, coming all the way from the back of the pack to finish third in front of his hometown crowd.
“We didn't get to qualify so we had to start on the last row,” said Puryear. “My dad asked me last night 'do you think there is any need to start' and I said 'dad, we came here to race.' And that is what we did. We had a great finish. Thank the Lord for helping us be here. I want to get back to this racing. I've got the team and the car. Got a so-so driver and I want to get back and race every week in this series.”
An emotional Puryear spoke to the South Boston crowd after the race.
“I gotta thank a lot of people for believing in me. It feels great to have my dad here with me today. But we are missing a very important person that is suppose to be with us today. That is my wife's father. He is not doing very well. The Lord is looking over him. If he doesn't make it, he is going to a better place. I just thank the good Lord for what we got here today. I want to get back in this Hooters ProCup Series so bad.
There isn't a person in racing that has as much heart as I do. I just want to race.”
SIX WEEKS ENOUGH FOR FOGLEMAN
Jay Fogleman completed his marathon run of six races in a row at South Boston. Fogleman, a Southern Division regular, finished fourth on Sunday afternoon.
“Starting from the back is always tough,” said Fogleman, who had to start 25th due to his lack of points in the Northern Division. “This is a tough place to pass. That makes it even harder. We tried a new set of shocks and were tight in the center and that kills you here because you have to wait until they get away from you. The way circumstances ended up, that is about where we were on the time sheet.
“I wish we would have been able to qualify. Not making any points is tough. Starting 26th is tough. Anytime you qualifying that bad or have to start back there, it is always tough. It is an uphill battle. I don't need to tear a race car up in a non-points race.”
Fogleman notched three top-five finishes during his six-race stint.
CAR JUST DOESN'T AGREE WITH KAUFFMAN
It was the second trip of the year for Joel Kauffman and the team to South Boston. The first run resulted in an eighth-place finish back in April. This time around, the team struggled to a 12th place finish at the historic Virginia track.
Johnny Rumley's #8
Danny Sammons' #97
Jay Fogleman can finally take a rest.
"The car was ill-handling right from the start," said Kauffman. "After the restart, a couple guys got by us and when Mardy (Lindley) was going by us, he got into our left front and it knocked the toe way out of whack and it was downhill from there."
While Joel never fell a lap off of the pace, it was visibly evident that the car was not up to snuff after the contact with Lindley. The team elected to make another couple of pit stops during the caution flags to diagnose the problem.
"We were able to come in and fix it and we were coming back at the end. The car was really loose off. It was frustrating because we weren't sure what to fix on the car before we realized the toe was knocked out. The car was doing some weird thing you don't think you would be able to fix.
Once we fixed the toe, we could go from there. but pitting so early hurt us because we were trying to make our way back up through the field and I think we ran the tires off too much. At the end, there wasn't much grip left in them."
Joel Kauffman fought his #44 at South Boston on Sunday afternoon.