Pro Cup with wild finish at Langley

Published 9:57 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2009

HAMPTON — Clay Rogers emerged from a mad scramble in Turn 4 on the final lap and claimed his first victory of the season in the Hampton Virginia 250 presented by Racing Electronics for the USARacing Pro Cup Series, the headlining event of Saturday evening’s program at Langley Speedway.

Caleb Holman was quickest in afternoon time trials, at 84.987 mph. Local standout Woody Howard qualified on the outside pole.

By lap 13, Howard had established a four-length lead over Holman, while third-place Drew Herring had fallen nearly half a straightaway behind the leaders.

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Derek Kale led from lap 69 through lap 130. On lap 130, Rogers used the outside lane to overtake Kale for the lead. On lap 140, Kale skated wide in Turn 2 and gave way to Howard, Herring and Brandon Ward. Rogers took advantage of the jumble and widened his lead to over half a straightaway.

Kale continued to struggle and saw his night come to a premature end on lap 145 when he spun in Turn 2 and collected Matt Lofton. Setting the lineup, Rogers and Howard ran 1-2, followed by Herring, Ward and Bobby Gill.

Three more cautions quickly followed, with the third coming as Gill, trying to clear Morgan’s lapped car, delivered a rap to Morgan’s rear bumper and triggered a multi-car melee on the backstretch. Herring and Ward were among those who were swept up in the incident.

At the 200-lap mark, Rogers was up by three lengths over Howard. The seventh yellow flag waved on lap 218 for debris on the frontstretch. Gathering for a restart, Rogers, Howard, Billy Bigley, Jr. and rookie Lucas Ransone made up the top four, while Gill had crept back into fifth.

Back under way, Rogers quickly fashioned a two-length edge over Howard. Behind them, Gill slipped around Ransone for fourth, then picked off Bigley for third on lap 230.

On lap 235, Herring and Brett Butler scuffled along the backstretch and Butler made contact with the outside wall, slowing immediately. Eventually, he rolled to a halt on lap 240, bringing out the last of the race’s eight caution flags.

Six laps remained when the green flag reappeared. Rogers eked out a slim margin over Howard as the field hit the back straightaway. That advantage was short-lived, though, as Howard ducked under the leader on lap 246.

Rogers and Howard raced door-to-door for the lead with Gill lurking just behind, in third. Exiting Turn 4, with the white flag in sight, Rogers skittered wide, seemingly opening the door for Howard.

Rogers was credited with leading lap 249. By the time the field reached Turn 1 on lap 250, though, he was in third. Howard was out front for a brief moment, but Gill was hard-charging down low and took the lead in Turn 1.

As the leaders headed into Turn 3 for the last time, Gill’s effort was undone by what he would later report as a power steering problem. He clipped the edge of the infield and shot up the track in Turns 3 and 4.

Howard ducked to the inside of Gill in a bid for the win. At the same time, Rogers slipped underneath Howard and got a mighty run off the corner. Unbelievably, Ransone had managed to work his way under Rogers, looking to swipe a victory.

At the line, Rogers was the winner by 58-thousandths of a second — half a car-length — over Ransone. Gill was third, followed by Howard and Bigley.

“That was the most awesome race I’ve ever been a part of, those last two or three laps. I had my ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ about this racetrack when we got here. I thought it was a little small for these type of cars, but, man, did it put on some great racing,” said Rogers.

The win was worth $8,000 to Rogers, while Ransone was the Raybestos Rookie of the Race. Barrett, Agnew and Purkhiser deadlocked for the Aaron’s Do The Math Hard Charger prize, each driver advancing seven positions.

In the evening’s other feature events:

C.E. Falk took the lead on lap 53 and rolled to his third victory of the season in the Hampton Convention and Visitors Bureau 100 for the Crossroads Fuel Service Late Model Stock Cars, the track’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series featured division.

Jammie Goode started on the pole and led all 40, caution-free laps to post his second win in a late afternoon feature for the Old Point National Bank Grand Stocks.