LeJoie stood in the middle of the track looking up at the flagman for a few seconds before he finally got his hands on the flag.
“Lesson of the day — just be nice to get stuff,” LaJoie said. “I’m not sure if I get to keep it or if I get another one. I better get one or I will steal one.”
Not that LaJoie needs a souvenir from “The Rock.” Two years ago, LaJoie also held off Rodenbeck to take his initial UARA win in April.
“That’s the second time I lost to him in like the last couple of laps,” Rodenbeck said. “I screwed up in three and four (turns) and I felt my tires going. It’s like flipping a light here, it’s like driving on ice.”
Rodenbeck kept LaJoie at bay for the majority of the race until making a slight miscue, which opened the door for the eventual winner.
“He was a lot better in three and four than me all day and I couldn’t figure it out,” LaJoie said. “But I was better in one and two. I think he was about a tenth of a second better than everyone all day. I just nutted up and pressed the gas. I just had to hit my marks every time. I ended up catching up, he missed a corner and I passed him.”
LaJoie got around Rodenbeck with four laps remaining and appeared to be set for an easy victory when the fifth caution of the race forced a green, white, checkered flag finish.
“I thought the race was over,” Rodenbeck said. “Then we had the restart.”
Even though Rodenbeck was given another chance to reel LaJoie in, he wasn’t able to get by the son of the former NASCAR driver Randy LaJoie.
“He never got a good run on me,” LaJoie said. “I got lucky and the Lord helped me. Both of my grandmothers passed away last month and they helped me as well.”
UARA points champion Brennan Poole already clinched the title before starting his engine Saturday. Poole finished 16th and completed eight laps before his engine gave out.
“It’s a shame we didn’t finish 75 laps,” Poole said. “It’s my last Late Model race. It’s a shame because going around Rockingham is a blast.”
Silas earns CARS Pro Cup victory
Bryan Silas sat on the hot seat in front of the media after winning the CARS Pro Cup version of the American 200 at the Rockingham Speedway.
He was asked the last time he captured a checkered flag.
"I don't know, it's been a while," Silas said laughing. "Maybe five or six years."
Now Silas has a victory at his home away from home. A native of Stuart, Fla., Silas is married to a Richmond County native and has raced for teams sponsored by Rockingham Speedway president Andy Hillenburg.
Silas credits his experience at "The Rock" for allowing him to pass CARS Pro Cup points champion Jeff Agnew for the victory.
"We came in with about 45-50 laps left to put on a fresh set of tires," Silas said. "The crew chief made a brilliant move. With about 25 laps to go I figured we would be OK because I remember you always have to race the racetrack. I just kept my line and I was getting better."
Agnew captured his second points title and the first since 1998 when competitor Brad Rogers fell off the pace and finished 15th.
"We came up second, we would have liked to have won today," Agnew said. "The car wasn't very good today. We were a bit snuggier then everyone else. We got better with some laps. Brad wanted to run fast and lead all the laps. We played it a little different and wanted to be there at the end."
Unlike the UARA race when tires became an issue in the final laps, neither Silas or Agnew thought that was a problem in their contest.
"Our tire wear was really good, maybe because we were going so slow," Agnew said. "The faster you go, the faster you wear your tires out is what I was taking from practice."
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org