Morgan Completes Dominant Pro Cup Season
ROUGEMONT, N.C. – J.P. Morgan put an exclamation point on his 2012 Rev-Oil Pro Cup Series championship season by winning The Championship 250 Saturday night at Orange County Speedway.
Morgan, who clinched the 2012 series title by simply starting Saturday’s finale, spent most of the race chasing former Orange County late-model track champion Stacy Puryear, who took the lead on lap two from polesitter Nathan Russell.
Morgan caught Puryear near the end of the first half, but couldn’t make the pass and finished the first 125 laps in second position.
After a quick caution early in the second half for a spin by Caleb Holman, Puryear reassumed command of the field. Tyler Young moved into second, followed closely by Morgan in third. Young took several shots at Puryear, but soon began to fade into the hands of Morgan.
Morgan made his move around Young on lap 205 and quickly set his sights on Puryear. Morgan had closed to Puyear’s back bumper when the final caution flag of the night waved when Allen Purkhiser blew a tire in turn one and slammed the outside wall.
After a short red flag to clean up the mess from Purkhiser’s crash, the field returned to green flag racing on lap 229. During the restart Morgan got a strong run on the outside, clearing Puryear as they raced down the backstretch.
Once out front, Morgan set sail as he cruised to his seventh Rev-Oil Pro Cup Series victory of the 2012 season.
“I knew from the first time we raced here that we had to save our tires,” Morgan said. “I was saving my tires in the first run. I got to his back bumper and he was real good off of four and we were real good off of two, so it was like a give and take situation.
The new Rev-Oil Pro Cup Series champion said the key to his victory Saturday was the restart on lap 229.
“Restarts are so key. These cars have a lot more power than they do tires,” Morgan said. “I kept working with the throttle and it caught. That last restart I knew was going to count so I did everything I could to make sure it got hooked up. We were able to clear Stacy just enough to get out front there and pull a little lead.”
The victory capped a dominating season for Morgan in Rev-Oil Pro Cup Series competition, which resulted in his first series championship.
“We said we were going to keep on running as long as we were leading the points and we never gave that up,” Morgan said. “It ended up being a phenomenal season for us. The championship, I’ve always wanted a Pro Cup championship. I’ve finished second before and that is great, but it is not the championship.
“This is a long time coming. It is an amazing feeling. It is a humbling feeling. I’m just so excited,” Morgan said. “All I can say is this is just awesome.”
Puryear ended the race in second, followed by Tyler Young, Russell and Joey Jones.
Dalton Hopkins, despite finishing a disappointing ninth Saturday at Orange County, still managed to claim the 2012 Rev-Oil Pro Cup Series Rookie of the Year Award.
“It feels so good. We worked hard for it,” Hopkins said. “Today wasn’t such a good day but I believe we made up for it in the other races that we raced well at. It makes me happier that we ran so good, especially to make up for tonight.”