O’Quinn Survives for Big First Win
Plot Changes Provide Plenty of Excitement by Matthew Dillner
Sometimes Short Track Racing is a “survival of the fittest.” How fitting it was that on a night where survival was the name of the game, the grand marshal cueing Hooters Pro Cup Northern Division Drivers to crank it up was none other than “Big” Tom Buchanan, star of the television show “Survivor.”
Young Danny O’Quinn, a Southern Division regular survived the elements and a slue of dramatic moments and was the last man standing in victory lane, netting his first career Pro Cup win.
O’Quinn, also a former Lonesome Pine track champion, was not in the forefront of the battle most of the night. A cast of characters rose to the challenge but could not endure in a race that seemingly changed story lines every 30 laps.
Benny Gordon looked like the man to beat from the start, but electrical troubles left the pole-sitter stranded in the infield.
Then, Mardy Lindley looked to pick up where he left off after winning the challenge at South Boston. But, he too was voted off the track with a black flag after breaking an oil line while leading.
Danny Sammons was fast but had a hard time enduring the heat caused by losing the exhaust on his #97. And it also didn’t help that Eric Corbett knocked Sammons off the pedestal with a tap. We know they these two won’t be forming any alliances any time soon.
Next up was Jeff Agnew. The former Lonesome Pine weekly standout was the fastest car for most of the night but couldn’t make it past the Hooters Pro Cup “tribal counsel” as officials penalized him for jumping a restart. Agnew battled back to the lead but then couldn’t survive the front bumper of Johnny Rumley (more about this on 51 later this week).
“Big Tom, I got to meet him at an autograph session,” said a smiling O’Quinn. “He came down before the race and shook my hand and wished me good luck and I guess it worked.”
It certainly did. The good luck charm may have helped the former UARA Late Model Stock champ pull off the big Pro Cup upset against some of the best Short Trackers in the business.
“This series is very competitive. When you go out there and beat guys like (Jeff) Agnew and (Johnny) Rumley, who both are track champions up here at Lonesome Pine, it’s unbelievable. To be able to come out here and win one of these races it’s a real big deal. These guys, like (Gary) St. Amant, are some of the greatest Short Track racers in the country.”
Danny O'Quinn could barely contain his excitement after winning in front of his hometown fans. (51 Photos)
Agnew was was penalized for jumping a re-start and was not happy with the call.
Johnny Rumley looked as if he would then take the money and run. Brian Ross and Jason McLellan had other ideas though. Ross made contact with Rumley and the three drivers checked up on the backstretch. That’s all it took for O’Quinn to pounce on the opportunity. The quiet big man held his breath and never lifted from the throttle going around the outside of the leader’s jumble to take the lead.
“I was all over them,” said an excited O’Quinn. “All three of us were nose to tail there. (Brian) Ross was all over Johnny Rumley and I got to thinking I’m gonna move up top. Then he (Ross) freed Rumley up and got in the back of him. They both checked up for a second and I got by them there on the outside.
“Once I got out in front it was sort of like the car was binding up when I was running behind everyone. I got into the lead and it was just rollin’ out there.”
Fans crowded their hero after his popular win and Danny soaked it all in. He generously knelt down after the “official” celebration to sign a ton of autographs and enjoy the many congrats of his proud fans.
At the beginning of the program nobody even thought of voting Danny O’Quinn out of the race, because many didn’t think he’d be there at the end.
“It’s what it’s all about on these Short Tracks. It’s survival in every one of these things. If you can survive you can get yourself a top ten and if you are in the top ten you can race from there.”
Just like every good television drama, “Survivor: Lonesome Pine” was filled with plot changes, characters, twists and of course a surprise ending. But unfortunately the “immunity necklace” won at Lonesome Pine won’t keep O'Quinn safe once he returns to the next Pro Cup Southern Division challenge this week at Ace Speedway (NC).
This episode of “Survivor” certainly soared in the ratings as the Coeburn fans cheered loudly for there hometown hero. From the time O’Quinn took the lead, the locals rose from their seats in jubilation and didn’t sit down for the rest of the night.
“To win a race anywhere else would be great but to win it here with all of these fans is awesome. I know so many people that are here tonight. Under caution I could see them up there and I tried to give them a big thumbs up. That was awesome. I can’t tell you how it feels to have that many people pulling for you up there.”
Fans were goin' nuts in the stands when the Coeburn Kid took the lead. (51 Photos)