American 200 in the books: Lajoie and Silas conquer The Rock
Corey Lajoie surged past Paddy Rodenbeck on lap 71 and withstood a furious charge during a green-white-checkered finish to take the UARA-Stars portion of the American 200, while Bryan Silas rallied late in the running of the CARS Pro Cup race to take the victory at Rockingham Speedway.
This marks the second time that Lajoie has won in UARA action at Rockingham and the second time that he passed Rodenbeck late in the running to seal the victory.
"That's twice he's beat us late here," said Rodenbeck, who led 67 of the 78 laps on the day. "This place owes us one."
While Rodenbeck had a dominant car, Lajoie picked his spot to get around the No. 82.
Corey Lajoie (No. 34) passes Paddy Rodenbeck (No. 82) in the waning laps of the UARA portion of the American 200 at Rockingham Speedway. Lajoie would go on to take the checkered flag.
"Rodenbeck was a lot better than I was in three and four but I was really good in one and two," said Lajoie. "He was really going and I thought it was going to go green the rest of the way, so I decided it was time to go and pressed the throttle down a little harder. I could tell he was getting loose. I ended up catching him when he missed a corner and I drove right around him. After the last caution, he caught up to me in three and four, we both drove up the hill, but I was able to hold him off and get the win.
"I just drove it in there until I saw Elvis."
Rounding out the top-five behind Lajoie and Rodenbeck were Kyle Grissom, George Miedecke (2011 UARA Rookie of the Year) and Ryan Heavner.
Despite a blown engine on the race's seventh lap and a 16th-place finish, Brennan Poole, who won the Carolina 200 in May, was crowned the 2011 series champion.
"It's a shame we couldn't race 75 laps today; this place is so much fun to run." said Poole. "Our engine had been down on power all weekend. Having that happen, I'm glad we locked the championship up last week at Concord."
Bryan Silas (No. 11) celebrates his first career CARS Pro Cup victory after taking the checkered flag at Rockingham Speedway in the American 200.
Silas, who started second in the race, used a bold pit call to claim victory in the Pro Cup 150-lapper, the first of his career.
"On lap 80, everyone else put on sticker tires," Silas said. "We put on scuffs and had a fresh set for the last run."
Silas used the fresh tires to run down and overtake the leaders over the last 25 laps.
"I have turned a lot of laps at this track and what I have learned is that you have to race the race track and not the other competitors here," said Silas, who also has starts in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards and the Frank Kimmel Street Stock Nationals at Rockingham Speedway. "This Pro Cup Series is a tough series with a bunch of guys who can win week in and week out and it means a lot to get that win."
Jeff Agnew, who claimed the CARS Pro Cup Series championship, finished second. Brad Rogers, who started the race second in points, nine points in arrears of Agnew, finished 15th after a lap 85 crash. After starting on the pole, Rogers had dominated the first half of the race but ended up mid-pack after pick stops. He was moving back to the front before tangling with the No. 14 car of Blake Jones.
"We came down here to run and try to win the race," Agnew said. "Him (Rogers) falling out, I really hate that. I wish we could have had a little better car at the beginning to run with him.
"We just had different strategies, Rogers wanted to get out there and lead all the laps. We played it to be there at the end. I really truly hate that this happened to him, he deserved this championship as much as we did, but I'm tickled to death we got it."
The championship is the second of Agnew's career. He won the 1998 the Hooters Pro Cup championship with the same team.
Rounding out the top-five in the Pro Cup portion of the American 200 were Caleb Holman, Tyler Young and Ryan Heavner.
"Great race day at the Rock," said Speedway President Andy Hillenburg. "From all the staff here at the track, I want to send a big thank you to all the race fans who came out today to support us and we'll see you back in a few weeks."
Next up at Rockingham Speedway is the Frank Kimmel Street Stock Nationals (FKSSN) Polar Bear 150 on Nov. 26, 2011.
NASCAR returns to Rockingham on April 15, 2012 for the Camping World Truck Series Good Sam Club Roadside Assistance 200.