PRO CUP LEFTOVERS: SOUTHERN NATIONAL by Jeremy Troiano
Gatia Rideless.... Fastest Car Doesn't Win... Gill, Huffman & More
FASTEST CAR DOESN'T WIN SATURDAY NIGHT
Danny O'Quinn easily showed he had the fastest car Saturday night at Southern National Speedway. O'Quinn came from the back of the pack to the front twice during the evening. However, his last charge to the front is what cost him a chance at his first Southern Division victory and second-career ProCup win.
O'Quinn, after battling back from 17th spot following a round of pit stops, was on the rear bumper of Bobby Gill and made slight contact with the former ProCup champion going for the lead, sending Gill around and out of the top spot.
However, race officials black-flagged O'Quinn and sent him to the rear of the field for “rough driving,” handing the lead to eventual race winner Brad Rogers.
“It was just one of those deals,” said O'Quinn, who finished ninth. “I got my nose up under there. The way I saw it was that Bobby came down on me there but they threw the black flag and there is nothing you can do about it at that point. That is the way it goes. We showed 'em tonight that we've got a car that is capable of winning every race.
“We came from the back a couple of times. I think we could have won this race pretty easy. That gets everyone pumped up. We are upset now, but you will have days like that. We had just an awesome showing. That gives us some momentum heading into the last few races.”
GILL AND HUFFMAN ALSO TANGLE FOR LEAD
Bobby Gill didn't only get spun out of the lead by Danny O'Quinn, but he also got into race leader Shane Huffman following a mid-race start.
Huffman, who dominated much of the first half of the event, let Gill get on the outside of him coming to the green on lap 179. With Gill to his outside, Huffman suddenly veered right just past the flag stand, sending both cars into the wall.
Huffman received more damage and a cut tire (which was possibly cut before the accident, sending him to the right off the restart) and was forced to pit.
Danny O'Quinn was the fastest car all night long at Kenly (NC). (51 Photos)
Bobby Gill (#5) had some interesting times up at the front of the field on Saturday night.
Gill continued on however, and despite significant damage to both his left front and entire right side, led 46 laps.
“With Shane (Huffman), I don't know what the deal was,” said Gill, who finished seventh. “He got sideways and turned to the bottom on the restart. When he went to the bottom and I shot to the outside. I don't know if he hit off the(lapped) 70 car (Stuart Ricks) and ricocheted up into me or what. Hell, we both hit the wall a ton there though. Then when he went to the bottom, I shot on the outside and got him.
“With Danny (O'Quinn), I think he just got into too much of a hurry. If he would have waited, I think he could have beat us. We really weren't that good. We'll take it and go to Peach State.”
DEFENDING CHAMP BEHIND ALL DAY
Just laps into practice, Shane Huffman knew it was going to be a long day at Southern National Speedway. His primary car's engine was missing, forcing the team to roll out the backup.
However, after struggling all day in practice with the backup, Huffman captured the outside pole and led the first 112 laps of the race (Huffman led a total of 153 laps) and appeared to be the man to beat.
But his run-in with Bobby Gill significantly slowed his night.
“I don't know if I had a tire going down before (the incident with Gill) happened or what,” said a puzzled Huffman after the race. “After Bobby got into us it knocked the valve stem off of it and it went right down. Hell, it was just a typical way the day, week and year has been for the most part.
“We just can't get he monkey off our back. We had a dominate car tonight. Dang it was good. Danny (O'Quinn) got by us and I knew after a few adjustments we'd get back to him.”
“I was saving all I could for the end. It is fun when you can get a car and just ride a little bit. We just don't have any luck right now. The guys dug hard all day and didn't get but about 30 minutes of practice on this car. They never gave up all day. The heart and soul of this team showed for sure.”
To add insult to injury, when Huffman had to come in to repair the damage caused from his run in with Gill, officials penalized him a lap from having a crew member over the wall without a helmet on.
He finished 16th.
GATIA LOSES RIDE
Joe Gatia, one of the nicest guys in the ProCup Series garage area, found out this past week that he had been released from the #06 Lamb and Robinson Motorsports team after a solid season that included one win and a fifth-place position in the point standings.
“The Lamb and Robinson team just decide they wanted to make some changes,” said Gatia, who found out just four days before having to be in Kenly (NC). “It was a great opportunity to drive with them. It was a great team. Hopefully whatever they decide to do for the rest of the year, they will have success. Hopefully I can stay in a ride the rest of the season and stay in the points and get in the championship series.”
In a statement, team manager Jamie Mosley said he felt a change was needed to help get the team “out of a rut” and spark new chemistry and that the sponsors or team wasn't happy with the performance.
So Gatia called around and found a ride for Kenly with veteran Mart Nesbitt. Ironically, Nesbitt, who sits 10th in the point standings, would fit to benefit from Gatia's absence from the track.
“He was unfortunately cut from his ride. I don't really know all the details and I don't need to know them,” said Nesbitt. “But he needed to keep his position in the points so he could get a good position in the championship series. We had a car that was available and I've always thought highly of him
as a person, so we were able to get a deal together and give him a ride so hopefully we can give him time to find a full time ride.
“We'd all like to beat each other on the race track and not beat each other because you can't get on the race track.”
“This is just a one race deal that we put together for now,” added Gatia, who finished sixth Saturday night, of the Nesbitt ride. “Depending on what sponsors could be secured, there is a possibility I could run this car more, but it is just depending on what sponsors I get aboard.
Right now I'm just trying to find a ride. There are a couple of prospects out there but that is all it is right now is just prospects. I'll be looking for another ride in two weeks from now.
CLICK HERE To View The First Part Of ProCup Leftovers: Kenly
Joe Gatia (#82) was able to use Mart Nesbitt's (#92) backup at Kenly to keep himself in the points battle.
Huffman (#84) got little practice in his backup car , but turned it all around in the race.