HICKORY, N.C. – Veteran Clay Rogers and rookie Brady Boswell battled tooth and nail in the final laps of Saturday’s X-1R Pro Cup Series Bojangles’ 250 at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Rogers came out on top – but only barely.
“Brady, he had a really fast car,” Rogers said. “The way these races play out most of the time, if you don’t save something for the end you’re in trouble. So I let him go then we played hell running him back down.”
Rogers started on the pole for the 250-lap affair and dominated the first 125-lap segment. After a 10-minute intermission for the halfway break, Rogers reassumed the lead with NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Lee Pulliam in second and Boswell in third.
As soon as the field returned to racing after the halfway break Boswell began his charge. He bypassed Pulliam for second during the restart and quickly closed the gap on Rogers. On lap 141 Boswell made the move around Rogers to take the lead at the three-eighths-mile asphalt oval.
Boswell quickly opened up a sizeable gap on Rogers, but it was erased by a yellow flag on lap 173. The field returned to racing on lap 179 and Rogers made sure not to let Boswell get too far away this time around.
Rogers slowly began to close the gap on Boswell as the laps clicked off. With 25 laps left Rogers was right behind Boswell looking for a way to take the lead away. On lap 232 Rogers got a big run coming out of turn two and was able pull alongside Boswell on the outside.
The two stayed that way – side-by-side – for the next eight laps. Several times Rogers nearly had Boswell cleared, but he just couldn’t quite complete the pass. With 10 to go Boswell was able to completely clear Rogers to reassume the lead.
Rogers stayed right behind Boswell for the next few laps and took another shot at the lead with five laps left, moving to the inside of Boswell. This time the move stuck as Rogers was able to clear Boswell and inch away over the final five laps to score his sixth victory of the 2013 season.
“We ran harder than we wanted to run that whole second half,” Rogers said. “Man, there at the end it was just elbows up. We were both out of tires. We were spinning the rear tires getting into the corners. His tail was hanging out and dragging the fence going down the back straightaway.
“It was a fun race.”
Boswell exited his car with a huge smile on his face despite the second-place finish, a career-best for the Georgia native.
“Man it was crazy but exciting,” Boswell said. “The car started getting a little snug and I knew he was going to catch us. I had to change up and figure out everything I could do. I held him off but then he got me on the inside.
“I just started charging harder and harder and it was wearing the stuff out, but that is all I could do because it was go time. I did everything I could.”
Rogers had nothing but good things to say about Boswell after the race.
“I was really impressed with him,” Rogers said of Boswell. “He did a great job. I got to watch him for most of the last half of the race there and he was really smooth and hitting his marks. Evidently he was saving more than I thought he was saving because he had a lot to race with there at the end.”
Coleman Pressley, who was running second at the halfway break, finished third despite starting at the tail of the field following the break.
“At halfway our upper control arm bolt came loose so we had to fix it and start in the rear,” Pressley said. “To come home third we are pretty happy. I feel like if we could have got a caution we might have had gone up there and at least tried to rough them up.”
Gus Dean finished fourth, followed by Pulliam in fifth.
Jonathan Brown and Tommy Neal split the two 25-lap modified features while Justin LaDuke claimed the Allison Legacy Series 35-lap feature.