Clay Rogers unzipped the top of his driver’s suit, took a deep breath and sat down inside his team hauler Saturday night at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Rogers had just won his sixth X-1R Pro Cup Series stock car race of the season, a victory that all but assured him his fifth series championship. But that wasn’t what was on the veteran driver’s mind.
Instead, he looked up and asked, “Was that a good race to watch?”
In fact, it was. Rogers, the dominant driver all season in the X-1R Pro Cup Series, spent the second half of the 250-lap affair chasing rookie driver Brady Boswell. Boswell, looking for his first series victory, did everything he could to win Saturday night at the historic three-eighths-mile track, but came up just a few laps short (read the race report here).
After the race everyone — from series officials to fans in the stands and even runner-up Boswell — were smiling. Why? Because those in attendance knew they had just witnessed to a great race.
Family and friends of Boswell and Rogers rushed on to the frontstretch to congratulate both men on the amazing finish. Before Rogers could even get of his car Boswell’s mother was there, a big grin on her face, as she asked to shake his hand. Boswell, after getting a hug from mom, followed suit.
In an era when most people equate short-track racing to fist fights and last-lap demolition derbies, Saturday’s race at Hickory proved that good racing can still occur without all the chaotic hoopla and drama.
“He drove me clean,” Boswell said after the race, the huge smile still glowing on the exhausted young man’s face. “I couldn’t ask for any better.”
Rogers was equally complementary of 16-year-old Boswell, who was making only his 13th series start.
“The kid is a good little racer,” Rogers said. “For somebody as young as he is, being able to consistently hit your marks like that every lap throughout all those green-flag laps is pretty impressive for somebody that age.”
The smiles and laugher continued on for quite some time after the race. Everyone was smiling, no one was mad and no punches or verbal jabs were thrown. It was simply a good night of racing at a legendary Southeastern short track.
Which brings us back to Rogers’ question: “Was that a good race to watch?”
He provided his own answer, “I sure had fun.”
And so did everyone who saw it.