THIS YEAR, GORDON TAMES “THE BEACH” by Jeremy Troiano
Northern Driver Takes Advantage Of Problems To Take Point Lead
What does Benny Gordon want for Christmas? Maybe a couple of more USAR ProCup Series races at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
“I couldn’t help but think about last year’s green-white-checker,” said Gordon with a smirk. “I guess that was a little different circumstances and we had a little different outcome as well.”
This time around, the green-white-checkers came and went without any action up front. Gordon took off and Ritch or Gatia had nothing for the new points leader.
“I wasn’t too worried. Michael Ritch is a good racer, but he’s a clean racer. I knew he was hungry for a win, but at the same time, I’m sure he was pretty happy with second. I think if he would have had something, he would have went for it.”
Ritch didn’t have anything for Gordon. Neither did Gatia. In fact, the real race was for second and third.
“We really didn’t have a thing for Benny there at the end,” said Ritch. “I was more worried about holding on to second. The 42 car (Gatia) was a good hot rod. Had the race have been one more lap, I don’t know if we could have. We had a third-place car after Bobby fell out.”
“We’ve always run good here.”
Gordon won Saturday night’s Mark Brooks Memorial 250 at Myrtle Beach (SC). With the win, Gordon took the season sweep at Myrtle Beach after winning the regular season race at the track back in June (a Southern Division event) and has won the last three races at the track, dating back to last year’s Championship Series event at the historic track.
Ironically, this year’s Championship Series event came down to a green-white-checkered finish. Why is it ironic? Because last year’s Championship Series event at Myrtle Beach also came down to a green-white checkered finish, which turned out to be quite controversial.
Last year, Gordon tangled with race leader Shane Huffman during the late-race restart, sending Huffman into the wall and Gordon onto the eventual win.
Would the shoe be on the other foot this year around, with Gordon leading and Michael Ritch and Joe Gatia trailing?
Benny Gordon won at Myrtle Beach for the third-time in a row and second time in 2004. (51 Photos)
Gordon, a former Beach regular, is the new ProCup points leader.
And troubles for some of the other big names added to the other story of the night. Gordon, who won at Mansfield (OH) a couple of weeks ago, took advantage of troubles for points leaders Shane Huffman and Bobby Gill, among others, to vault himself into a comfortable point lead with two races remaining.
Gill looked to have a great car and ran first and second much of the night before he unexpectedly pulled behind the wall on lap 209 with axle problems. Huffman was the victim of a long green-flag run that put him a couple of laps down. Gill finished 24th and Huffman came home 17th.
The long green flag runs set the tone for Saturday’s event. Several drivers struggled during the middle stages of the event as the rough, abrasive Myrtle Beach track took its toll on the tires. But the end of the run, several big names found themselves struggling to stay on the lead lap, while several others, including Huffman, Gatia and Gary St. Amant found themselves going a lap or more down.
a lot of good race cars out here tonight. There were some guys that were really good on long runs. The race just played to the way we set the car up. I didn’t have a lot more in the car than 50 laps. There were a couple of times that I’m lucky I didn’t go a lap down.
“I guess some of those guys had their cars set up for long runs and that is good, but the last two times it has come down to the laps 30 or 40 laps. We just had a better car in that last 40.”
Matt Carter was able to came home fourth and Clay Rogers finished fifth.
Gatia and St. Amant eventually pitted during the next caution and came back out and flew through the field. They both made their laps up under green and both made it back up into the top-five, all during the same green-flag run.
Gatia kept the run up, while St. Amant eventually fell out with engine problems.
Gordon was one of the guys that was able to survive the long runs.
“I told the guys the other day that is was going to be a hammer down race for us and that is basically how we set our car up. The cautions really played to us. There were
Joe Gatia started 19th and finished an impressive third at Myrtle Beach on Saturday.