DILLON, S.C. – Four-time X-1R Pro Cup Series champion Clay Rogers made his return to the series known Saturday night at the Dillon Motor Speedway, coming from the rear of the field to win the Pee Dee 250.
Rogers’ win was no walk in the park as 2012 AFR Rookie of the Year winner Dalton Hopkins gave the former champion a close run to the checkered flag, finishing just .331 second behind after a banzai run through turns three and four.
Eric Gerchak, making his series debut, finished an impressive third to earn the final podium position. Defending series champion JP Morgan began his title defense with a solid fourth place finish after winning at the track a season ago. South Carolina native Gus Dean rounded out the top five finishers.
“Man, it feels good to be back in victory lane with this L&R race team here in the Pro Cup Series,” Rogers said. “We had a few problems in qualifying that caused us to start in the back, but I knew we had a good race car so it wasn’t as big as a deal as it could’ve been. I just focused on saving my tires because I’ll be honest I don’t know much about these particular Goodyear tires because I’ve never been on them until this weekend. Luckily I did a decent job at managing them and didn’t race JP (Morgan) too hard and we’re able to take home this check for $10,000 to kick off the season.”
The issues that Rogers spoke of were when his L&R Racing team were forced to repair break hoses on their No. 16 Commonwealth Building Materials Ford Fusion after qualifying when cars are normally impounded.
The result of the penalty by series officials was Rogers taking the green flag from shotgun on the field with MAHLE Pole Award winner JP Morgan leading the field to green.
Morgan wasted no time in picking right where he left off a season ago taking the lead and opening a three car gap over Hopkins. Despite the smaller field side-by-side racing was abundant throughout the remaining positions over initial laps and throughout the night.
Just 11 laps in was all it took for the KOOLMAT “Kool Move of the Race” to take place as eventual winner Rogers made a daring three wide move to the inside of Dean and Brady Boswell that advanced his No. 16 machine two positions moving from seventh to fifth in a single straightaway.