PRO CUP LEFTOVERS: LONESOME PINE by Matthew Dillner
Agnew, St. Amant, Rumley, Sammons, Kauffman & More
AGNEW SAYS “THEY’RE OUT TO GET ME”
Jeff Agnew, who is used to kickin’ butt at his old home track, raced his butt off, “butt” in the end got his “butt” kicked by the Pro Cup Officials and by the front of Johnny Rumley’s Monte Carlo. Agnew was the dominator at Lonesome Pine, storming to the lead to only have it taken away from him twice.
First, after jumping a restart while leading, USAR Officials made Agnew pull his #73 down pit lane for a “stop and go” penalty. Agnew was not a happy camper
“I didn’t start then,” explained a visibly upset Agnew. “You usually clear your motor out before you get to the line. I hit the throttle and didn’t have the clutch down. It was just a stupid mistake. I let off the throttle and tried to start where you are supposed to. A rule is a rule but it has happened a whole lot. I’ve personally heard it over the radio where they say ‘tell so in so not to start early again, this is a warning’. We don’t get a warning? We get sent to the rear. It cost us the win.”
Agnew tore through the field a second time but again to no avail. While overtaking Johnny Rumley in a classic door-rubbin’ duel the two touched, sending an already frustrated Agnew to the rear of the field again.
“Once we got by Johnny, it was the same 'ol same ol’ I guess. My spotter hollered clear and I came down to get the preferred line on the bottom. I guess USAR looked at it like it was our fault again. I was in front. He ran over me from behind. They black flagged both Johnny and I for running into the back of other cars at South Boston last week and sent us to the rear. I was in front of Johnny. Go figure!”
“I’ve got to see the tape but I think I know what happened,” said Rumley, who finished fourth. “I’m not going to take all of the blame. If he says his spotter cleared him he’s dead wrong because my nose was underneath there. Don’t listen to these spotters is all I’ve got to tell ya. I drive my car by the front and the mirror. I can see what’s going on and don’t listen to the spotter clearing me. If he said that then I know what happened.”
After charging to the front a third time to finish an amazing sixth, Agnew got out of his car and walked away, disgusted by his misfortune.
“It doesn’t pay for us to put on a show,” said Rumley, who finished fourth and walked away the Northern Division points leader. “Plain and simple. It seems like that’s the norm. We are just trying real hard to win the race. It just seems like everybody out there is against us. “
CLEAN ROSS POSSIBLY GIVES AWAY THE RACE
Brian Ross and his crew joked with Gary St. Amant after the race, saying that both Brian and Gary were too clean of racers. Well, Ross’ clean approach may have cost him the win at Lonesome Pine. When Ross got into Rumley while battling for the lead, he chose not to follow through with the contact, which let Danny O’Quinn slip by for the win. Ross finished third.
“We got into Johnny a little bit getting off of turn two,” said Ross. “I let him go to gather it back up. I should have just kept on going because that let Danny and Jason (McLellan) move up along the outside of us. I ended up
Johnny Rumley (left) and Jeff Agnew (right) won't be trading Christmas Cards this year. (51 Photos)
Brian Ross (#42) races here with Johnny Rumley.
finally getting by Johnny on the outside but then I couldn’t do anything with Jason and Danny.
“Johnny will run you up in the wall and down in the dirt. He races you hard. He ain’t mad at me about that deal and I’m not mad at him. I let him gather it back up. I don’t really like racin’ like that but you get into people once in a while. “
LIL JIMMY LEARNS
Jimmy Spencer Jr., son of Nextel Cup racer Jimmy Spencer, made his Hooters Pro Cup Northern Division debut at Lonesome Pine, but it wasn’t as smooth as the second-generation driver had hoped. With the help of former Pro Cup Champion Jason Sarvis, the team had trouble getting the car dialed in all day long and finished 19th. With the little experience he has in the cars, the day proved trickier.
“We were pushing all day and then it was loose during the race,” said Spencer. “I was trying to get on that right rear like a big old sprint car. A couple of times it got real bad on me and it broke loose in the apex of three and four. We recovered and got back going and noticed it was getting looser and looser. Coming off of two it just broke loose real bad and we spun and made contact with the wall. I thought I tore the car up. Come to find out we drove around and they told me nah man you’re alright.
“Mardy Lindley unfortunately had some problems, but because of that, I got to follow him for a while and really, really learn a lot from riding behind him. I just tried to give the leaders more than enough room when they came around me.”
LINDLEYS LUCK, LIKE MANY, TURNS SOUR
If you were the leader at Lonesome Pine it seemed, in a way, you were cursed. A bunch of the strongest cars experienced snafu's including Mardy Lindley. After his win at South Boston (VA), Lindley looked as if he could pull off the “repeat feat”, but his lack of pedal put the brakes on his bid.
“It was a funny night,” laughed Lindley, who finished 18th. “Agnew jumped the start and he got sent to the tail. Something happened to Benny Gordon’s car. We were just leading the race out there and the spotter said caution and I let the 8 car by me. Ten laps after that we just lost the brake pedal and that was basically the end of our night. It’s a big bummer. We had a good shot at winning. But you look at how strong your car is and you use that to look forward to IRP.”
MCLELLAN SQUEEZES OUT SECOND
When Johnny Rumley and Brian Ross got together, Danny
O’Quinn wasn’t the only one to benefit. Jason McLellan was able to sneak by in tow and net a career best second-place finish.
“I don’t know what happened,” said McLellan. “They just got sideways in front of us and I held my breath and went to the outside and tried to make something happen. The last 30 laps was all about holding your breath and making a couple of moves. I was getting antsy out there getting it a little sideways driving the wheels off of it.”
FIVE OFF FIVE ON FOR KAUFFMAN
Joel Kauffman’s team struggled on pit road at the Hooters Pro Cup Northern Division’s first race in South Boston, Va. So Tim Kohuth and the LA West boys went with “Plan B” at Lonesome Pine. To give the team a break to focus on their techniques and practice the regular #44 boys sat on the sidelines. In place of the usual crew were members of “5 Off 5 On,” a pit crew training center in North Carolina. The “over-the-wallers in training” faired pretty well making a fairly smooth four-tire stop for Kauffman.
Kauffman’s regular crew is expected to return at Indianapolis Raceway Parkto improve on his eight-place finish at Lonesome Pine.
SAMMONS HOT AFTER CORBETT CONTACT
Not only was Danny Sammons hot after his exhaust fell off, causing some uncomfortable driving conditions, he was pretty steamed after the race because of a hit by Eric Corbett.
“Eric came down and apologize for hitting me and said that he didn’t mean to,” said Sammons in his hauler at the end of the night which say him finish 12th. “I tried my best to run him clean. He was running the top and had pitted earlier and was on older tires. I had newer tires and I ran as low as I could get. We touched a couple of
times. I got a run on him and got by him and got as low as I could get. We run off into the next corner and once I cleared him, I got turned around. He said he overdrove the corner and I’d say he did. It took our chances away because it knocked the spoiler out of it and it made it worse.”
The 10th-place finisher Corbett said that the contact was in no way intentional.
“We were racing real hard and he rubbed me a bit and it certainly wasn’t intentional,” explained Corbett. “I just turned down to the bottom and he kind of turned down in there trying to block, which is all natural. I just bumped him a little bit and he spun around. I went down there and talked to him and it’s the best it can be in the situation. Unintentional but unfortunate.”
Gary St. Amant saw things differently out the front of his windshield.
“It kind of got stacked up there and Danny got into the back of Eric, said St. Amant. “It wasn’t Danny’s fault I think it was just a racing deal. Then I kind of saw Eric, it got him rattled so he went after the 97 and spun him. I went low and chose the wrong way and it was either run those guys over or stop it.”
GARY GETS INDEXED TO THE REAR
Mardy Lindley's (#16) car starts to experience problems while being followed by Jason McLellan (#3).
Gary St. Amant was slated to start ninth on the grid. But shortly before the green dropped , he was sent to the rear for stopping on the track during the pace laps.
“I was sitting there and I thought I had my steering wheel straight,” said St. Amant. “I was wanting to back up and then pull forward to see if my steering wheel was straight, but I had a car that was right on my back bumper and I was tucked behind someone right in front of me. So what I did is pulled over to straighten my steering wheel because it was way off, but I got penalized. I probably should have known better because ASA is the same rule. They just line the cars up on the grid way to tight. The couple of rows I was at they were bumper to bumper.”
St. Amant came home fifth.
BENNY IN THE PITS
For the second straight race things just didn’t pan out for Benny Gordon. Both at South Boston and Lonesome Pine, the #66 was fast, but had a monkey on its back, coming home dead last (29th).
“We were good all day,” said a surprisingly optimistic Gordon. “We were the fastest car in practice and then went out there and won the pole. We were leading the race and the distributor broke. Something broke and I’m not sure if it was in the wiring. Disappointed but not disappointed because we had a bad finish but had a good run. We were fast here and we were fast at South Boston and we’ve got a good team so we will be alright.”
Danny Sammons was not very happy either.
Despite being sent to the back, Gary St. Amant was back up front by the end of the race.
Jimmy Spencer Jr. used Lonesome Pine as a learning session for the Pro Cup cars.