Coeburn, Virginia — A new face to the Super Cup Stock Car Series paired up with a familiar name to the region, and it turned out to be a winning combination in the return to Lonesome Pine Raceway after a six-year absence.
Series regular Harvey Harrison cut into Brent Nelson’s point lead right away by capturing the fastest time of 17.498 seconds around the 3/8-mile. The West Virginia veteran of the No. 51 Southern Coal Corporation Chevrolet, who came into the Saturday night as the only former SCSCS winner at “The Pine”, dedicated the pole award to Charlie Canterbury, a racer who lost his life following the conclusion of the SCSCS race there in August 2009.
Only one-hundredth of a second back from Harrison was a SCSCS newcomer and past winner in the Carolinas in Late Models and Street Stocks, Ben Ebeling.
Nelson redrew to start from the pole with Brandon Harrison outside, but Harvey Harrison quickly found his way to the top spot six laps in. Ebeling followed into second with Stephen Cox frequently challenging for the runner-up position throughout a lengthy green flag run that would last until 48 circuits into the Performance Fiberglass Products 75 presented by Extreme Awards and Personalization.
Cox rode around in the top five, running as high as second, during the entire first half of the event. The Midvale fast qualifier believed he had a car capable of winning at that time, but a chance at victory would later come to an end. The car went away on the bottom as the laps continued and the No. 33 McGunegill Engines / Boschett Timepieces Chevrolet was forced to pit under green flag conditions after cutting down a right rear tire when trying a different line.
During the long runs, Ebeling was noticeably using a higher groove than his fellow competitors, and it would ultimately work in his favor on an ensuing restart. He and Harvey Harrison battled hard but cleanly before Ebeling took the lead for good on lap 54.
Ebeling was showered with bottles of water and cheers in victory lane from friends and family, a home win for the Mike Potter-owned No. 14 Kingsport Iron and Metal Chevrolet that made their first SCSCS appearance of 2016.
“The good Lord blessed us for sure,” Ebeling said following the SCSCS victory in his debut start. “I was just happy with the opportunity to come race. Mike Potter and Jon Kerley gave me the opportunity to come out and race this car. It’s tremendous to be able to do that, so to come out here with all these guys that race week in and week out and have experience here and to qualify second and win; it’s unbelievable. I don’t think you could write it any better.”
Potter, a 10th place finisher in the 2015 SCSCS points and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitor, was not feeling up for driving after recently getting hurt, and his alternate driver Jon Kerley was up in Watkins Glen, New York driving one of the Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR XFINITY Series haulers. Ebeling was called upon and Potter was proud of the 35-year-old’s accomplishment.
“Ben’s a good boy,” Potter, who coincidentally drove a No. 14 to victory the first time out multiple decades ago at the Coeburn, Virginia track when it had reopened, remarked. “He kept his cool, didn’t let the pressure get to him, and did an excellent job. Ben’s helped us out over the years and we just let him drive it. I feel about as good as I did if I would have won the race.”
Despite clearing Harrison late in the going, Ebeling was not home free yet. Series rookie Trent Gossar maneuvered from the 11th starting position into the top five early and set his sights on Ebeling after getting by Harrison. The two racers, whose residences are separated by more than 500 miles, converged to put on a show for those in the stands to conclude the remainder of the race.
“(Jon Kerley) said the outside is going to work later on and sure enough it worked,” Ebeling noted. “The only way we win that race was going to the outside. Those guys could dive up underneath me, and thanks to all of those guys for running me as clean as they did. I don’t think we hardly put a scratch on the car, so that’s good racing amongst good guys that have respect for each other.”
After countless attempts to pass Ebeling, Gossar would have to settle for a best career second place finish on this night.
“Evidently, his car wouldn’t work on the bottom and he had a bad push in the center,” the No. 71 Gossar’s Towing Chevrolet driver, who continues in his pursuit for the goal of winning the season-ending rookie of the year award, said. “I used that to my advantage and tried to go in high and hug the bottom. Everything I tried he had a little bit more grip coming out of the corner. He could drive it just a little bit further on the high side and I had to let out of it a little bit earlier running the bottom.”
As for Ebeling, the next time fans will see him in a Super Cup car is to be determined.
“That’s up to the car owner,” Ebeling laughed. “I’m just thankful again to have this opportunity.”
Harvey Harrison soldiered on for a third place finish. His youngest son Brandon Harrison finished a season best fourth, while Larry Wilcox rounded out the top five in his first start as a driver since 2009.
“My car started going away from me and the tires started getting hot,” Harvey Harrison recapped. “We haven’t pinned down exactly what’s doing it, but it seems like the longer number of green flag laps I run the harder it gets to control. We got some good data tonight as far as setup and everything, and I think we’ll be better at Jennerstown.”
Nelson suffered some misfortune under the hood of his No. 80 Airtek Inc. Chevrolet, developing a miss in the first half and had to bring the car pit side late in the going. Harrison capitalized by leading the most laps including at the halfway mark, and now holds nearly a 50 point lead on Nelson going into the finale weekend, which will feature twin 50-lap races at Jennerstown Speedway to determine the 2016 champion.
Jeff Zillweger somehow managed to salvage a sixth place finish at Lonesome Pine despite the right side sheet metal getting torn off his No. 18 Jeff Zillweger Landscaping / Anderson Welding Chevrolet, and remains with a shot at the title as well.
The morning after the Saturday, August 27 finale event at the Jennerstown 1/2-mile, there will be a regular season-ending trophy and awards presentation in nearby Somerset, Pennsylvania. Drivers and teams are encouraged to contact director of competition Joe Schmaling as soon as possible with an estimate on how many people they expect to attend in order to communicate an approximate head count with the breakfast organizers ahead of time.
-Super Cup Stock Car Series Press Release
-Photo Credit: Super Cup Stock Car Series