ONE UNBELIEVABLE NIGHT… ERR MORNING by Jeremy Troiano
Gill Gets The Win, Rogers The Champion, Carter The Top Rookie
There were so many story lines in the USAR ProCup Series finale at USA International Speedway, it is tough to know where to start.
But if you were one of the fans that left during the near five-hour rain delay, you missed quite a night… or should we say morning.
The ProCup officials stuck with it and, at 12:19am on Sunday morning, the drivers were back in the cars and race was under green/yellow conditions while the track continued to dry. At 12:47am, with 42 laps already run under the caution, the race officially went green.
Then, the race was on.
Rogers, who knew coming into the race that he had to lead as much as possible (including the half-way point) to give himself a shot at the title, jumped out to the lead and began to pull away.
However, during a round of pit stops on lap 130, it all fell apart.
During a routine pit stop, Rogers' car wouldn’t get into gear and the team had to try and push start the #44. They failed and Rogers fell a lap down in the pits. Coupled with Gordon’s second-place running position, Rogers was out of the title contention at that time.
Rogers, who had the fastest car all night long, blasted his way back through the field and was battling with Gordon to get a lap back when Rogers’ brother, Brad, brought out a caution by running out of gas. During the next restart, Rogers got his lap back, a move that would prove futile laps later.
On lap 199, Gill made his move toward the front and got by Gordon for the top spot. But that wasn’t the worst news for Gordon.
On lap 228, Gordon came to pit road under green flag conditions with mechanical problems, a broken alternator bracket. Gordon spent 14 laps in the pits fixing the problem, handing the title over to Rogers. Gordon returned
In the end, Bobby Gill won his 10th-career race at the Lakeland, FL track to close out the season. Clay Rogers came from 39 points down coming into the night to win the 2004 ProCup Series Championship. Matt Carter outdueled veteran Gary St. Amant for the Rookie of the Year title.
But none of them came as easy, nor quickly.
It started at 7:30pm on Saturday night when the cars rolled off the line for their pace laps. At that time, Rogers, who came into the night trailing Benny Gordon in the championship standings by 39 points, found out that his clutch was out.
Just a few minutes later, a 10-percent chance of rain turned into a near monsoon in central Florida.
The wait was on.
Clay Rogers came back from a lap down and won the championship when Benny Gordon fell out.
Bobby Gill won Saturday/Sunday's race.
to the track for just a few laps, eventually blowing his engine and ending his night and his championship dreams.
With the championship decided, the race and Rookie of the Year fights were still hot and nothing was hotter than the battle for the race win.
Gill and Jay Fogleman put on one of the best late-race battles in recent memory over the last 10 laps. From lap 290 to the checkers at 300, Gill and Fogleman traded the lead no less than seven times, sometimes twice during one lap, and traded paint just as much.
turned it on himself and made it up to seventh, enough to capture the rookie title.
The checkers flew over the Rogers, Gill and Carter, along with the rest of the ProCup field, as 3:17am early on Sunday morning.
It was a night… err… morning for the ages.
Speed51.com will have FULL coverage and reaction of the night soon, including comments from Gill, Carter, Rogers, Fogleman, St. Amant and more. Stay tuned!
The classic battled ended as the drivers came to the line to take the white flag, as Fogleman ran out of gas and ended up coasting to the line. Gill was the winner, following by polesitter Shane Huffman and Fogleman in third.
Carter finished the night with a seventh-place run. It was just enough to beat veteran Short Track racer Gary St. Amant for the $25,000 Rookie of the Year title.
The two drivers followed each other most of the night, sometimes with Carter leading St. Amant, sometimes the other way around. The two were rarely more than two positions apart during the night.
Near the end, St. Amant turned it on and moved all the way from 10th to fifth at the waving of the checkers. Cater