Morgan Dominates At Caraway
ASHEBORO, N.C. – J.P. Morgan had the best car Saturday night at Caraway Speedway and proved it by driving through the field after an eight-car invert at halftime to win the CARS Pro Cup 250 presented by CV Products.
Morgan, driver of the No. 23 J&R Racing Chevrolet, started second and dominated the first half of the 250-lap event and was the leader at the halfway break at lap 125. After a blind draw, it was decided that the top eight cars would be inverted with Dalton Hopkins assuming the lead and Morgan restarting eighth.
“When it ended up being an eight (car invert), that makes it exciting,” Morgan said. “Going back there (to eighth), I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
After a few brief tussles at the front of the pack, Tyler Young took command on lap 127 before a caution flag for debris slowed the field on lap 128. Young pulled away on the following restart and held the lead as Allen Purkhiser and Morgan made their way through the pack behind him.
A caution flag for debris on lap 171 allowed Purkhiser to close the gap on Young and on the restart Purkhiser powered into the lead. Morgan, who restarted fourth, jumped to second around Young and Blake Jones.
Purkhiser stayed in control until the caution flag waved on lap 200 when the engine in Young’s No. 02 Chevrolet expired. The field returned to racing on lap 210 and Morgan wasted little time as he drove around Purkhiser to reclaim the top spot.
Once out front Morgan slowly pulled away en route to his fifth career CARS Pro Cup Series victory and his second of the season.
“Our car was good, it really was all night,” Morgan said. “We made some little adjustments because we knew we had to come back through the field quicker and we didn’t get caught back there because it is very hard to pass here at this race track. It all worked out in our favor.”
Morgan and the J&R Racing team consider Caraway their home track; picking up the victory at the .455-mile asphalt oval was particularly gratifying.
“We’ve got a lot of fans around here. It’s awesome to win here,” said Morgan, who remained the series championship leader. “We test here all the time and it’s so close. We have so many fans around here that want to come see us run but normally we’re traveling a lot. To have it (the race) here and then to come back and all these people get to see us win, it’s great.”
Purkhiser ended up second in his No. 68 Premiere Motorsports Chevrolet after battling Morgan for much of Saturday’s event.
“I didn’t have anything for him,” Purkhiser said. “We were tit for tat on most laps there towards the end. I just burnt my right-rear off.”
Lucas Ransone, who won the last CARS Pro Cup Series event at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., June 9, qualified on the pole for the second-straight race. He led several laps early and ended up third Saturday.
“It was a pretty good day,” Ransone said. “I’ve never raced here in a Pro Cup car. The car felt good all day, we just didn’t make any changes because we thought we were good.”
Jones, the 2011 CARS Pro Cup Series Rookie of the Year, made his first start of the season for Wes Gonder Racing and finished fourth. Ryan Heavner overcame a crash in the second practice session to finish fifth.
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