Ransone Beats Purkhiser In Pro Cup Thriller
RADFORD, Va. – Lucas Ransone made his return to the CARS Pro Cup Series a successful one, edging past Allen Purkhiser with two laps left to win Saturday’s Highway Motors/Heritage International 250 at Motor Mile Speedway.
Ransone had driven his way to the front of the pack before a caution flag waved for a hard crash on the front stretch involving Mike Williams on lap 233 allowed Purkhiser to close the gap. The field returned to racing on lap 238 and Purkhiser was able to drive around Ransone to snatch the lead away.
Driving the No. 00 Ford, Ransone searched the track for a different line and found something on the high side. With three laps left he was right on Purkhiser’s back bumper and one lap later he made his move to Purkhiser’s inside.
Purkhiser and Ransone ran side-by-side, but Ransone had the preferred line and cleared Purkhiser as the duo came to the white flag. Ransone was able to pull away to a .321 second victory over Purkhiser at the finish.
“I moved to the top and I just drove the wheels off of it,” said Ransone after his second series victory and first since 2009. “I knew we weren’t going to beat him with the line I was driving, so I just tried something different and it ended up in our favor. It doesn’t always work like that, but it did tonight.”
The night started off a bit rough for Ransone despite starting from the pole with a 16.291-second lap in qualifying. During the initial start J.P. Morgan took the lead as Ransone fell through the field, finally settling into sixth.
As it turns out, that was all part of his teams plan.
“Our crew chief had our tires way low at the start of the race so they’d build up pressure,” Ransone said. “We haven’t raced these cars on these tires ever, so we were a little bit new to the game. After they (the tires) grew, the leaders came back to me.”
Purkhiser spent most of the night chasing Morgan, finally getting by him after a restart on lap 175. The South Carolina native, fresh off his first series victory two weeks ago at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C., then had to deal with a fast closing Ransone.
Ransone caught Purkhiser just after lap 200 and bypassed him for the lead on lap 212. Purkhiser got the lead back on lap 238, but he couldn’t hold off the determined Ransone.
“He did what he had to do to win the race. He got up high like I was running and picked up some speed,” said Purkhiser. “He wound up getting under me and we went off into (turn) one. He ran up the track to block me. It’s what he had to do to win. It’s fine, I’d do the same thing if I were in his shoes.”
Morgan, who continues to lead the CARS Pro Cup Series standings, finished third after dominating most of the race.
“In the second half the second set of tires wasn’t as good,” said Morgan. “The track just kind of went away from us I think. We were trying different lines and everything on that second set (of tires). It very well may have could have been the tires, that happens a lot.
“It ended up not being what we wanted at the end of the night, but it was still a good night overall,” Morgan concluded.
Tyler Young timed second, but had to start at the rear of the field after changing a gear in his No. 02 Chevrolet after qualifying. He charged through the field to finish fourth. Nathan Russell continued his consistent rookie season with a fifth place finish.