USAR: Bristol: Southern Division finale preview

One given, many unknowns in Food City 150 Champion, Rookie to be crowned at Bristol Motor Speedway Myrtle Beach, S.C.--Michael Ritch might be the only driver that breathes a sigh of relief when the green flag is waved at Bristol Motor ...

One given, many unknowns in Food City 150
Champion, Rookie to be crowned at Bristol Motor Speedway

Myrtle Beach, S.C.--Michael Ritch might be the only driver that breathes a sigh of relief when the green flag is waved at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The veteran driver will clinch the Aaron's Southern Division title by simply taking the green flag in the Food City 150 presented by Naturally Fresh on Wed., August 22.

"It's taken us a long time to get to this point," said Ritch, driver of the No. 28 Naturally Fresh/Jackaroo Ford. "I wouldn't be here without my sponsors, Naturally Fresh and Jackaroo. They are both pretty big around Bristol, so it's going to be fun to get to celebrate with them there."

Ritch will collect a $20,000 bonus for his title and 25 bonus points heading the into the five-race Championship Series, which starts at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park on Sept. 1.

While Ritch's celebration is a forgone conclusion, behind him, there's going to be plenty of nail-biting going on. The Food City 150 is the final race of the Aaron's Southern Division and Ritch is the only driver that knows where he'll end up in the standings.

Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 29 Chevy Racing/DEI Chevrolet, currently holds down the second spot in points, but he could fall as far as 12th in the standings with a poor effort in the Food City 150. And he should be well aware of that fact. After his win at Hickory, Bayne jumped from 11th to second in points. Going into Bristol, 76 points separates second through 12th in the standings. For many driver, solidifying a top-15 spot in the points is crucial heading into the Championship Series.

"We need to get out of Bristol with a top-10 finish and move up the in the points," said Mart Nesbitt, driver of the No. 92 Blue Cross Blue Shield Ford. "Some good cars are going to be going home in the Championship Series, so every position you can get now is critical going into the final five races. But it is Bristol, and anything can happen."

Over the last three years, it has.

In 2004, Shane Huffman won the first Food City 150 after having to start from the rear of the field. In 2005, Clay Rogers rebounded from an early-race spin to claim the coveted hardware. And last year, Mardy Lindley went from not having a ride two weeks prior to landing in BMS Victory Lane.

Not to be lost in the hoopla is the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year race in the Southern Division. Matt Hawkins, driver of the No. 2 H&H Electric Ford, currently leads the ROTY standings by 23 points over Richard Boswell.

"I'm just happy we still have a chance with the way our season has gone," said Boswell, driver of the No. 88 Champion Chevrolet. "I've never raced at Bristol, so I'm not sure what to expect."

What Boswell should expect is plenty of competition for the $10,000 bonus for being the regular-season rookie winner.

Frank Deiny Jr., Wade Day and Caleb Holman are within 69 points of Hawkins. Mathematically, the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year for the Southern Division could go to as many as seven drivers.

So when the dust settles in the Food City 150, the unknowns will be known and Ritch will be celebrating his first Southern Division title.

"I'm glad I don't have to worry about that," said Ritch.

BMS gates open at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday with practice for the Hooters Pro Cup cars beginning at 9 a.m. Practice for the cars and trucks will take place until 1 p.m. Awesome Awnings Pole Qualifying begins at 2:30 p.m. for the Hooters Pro Cup Series and Craftsman Truck Series drivers will make their qualifying attempts at 4 p.m. The Food City 150 begins at 5:45 p.m., while the O'Reilly 200 is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Tickets are still available and are only $30. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a paying adult.

Tickets may be purchased by contacting the BMS ticket office at 423.989.6900 or by visiting www.bristoltix.com.

Quick Facts

Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) Basics

Race Date: August 22, 2007

Race Length: 150 laps/ 79.95 miles

Track Length: .533 miles

First USAR HPCS Race at BMS August 25, 2004

First USAR HPCS Winner at BMS Shane Huffman

First USAR HPCS Pole Winner at BMS Shane Huffman

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Race Information

Posted Awards 122,670 (includes 37,000 points fund)

Starting Field 36 car starting field -- 38 car possible- Fastest 32 cars through time trails- two provisional from 2007 Aaron's Southern Division top 30 driver point standings and two provisional from 2007 Aaron's Southern Division top 30 owner point standings. One provisional for past Champion and past "Rookie of the Year" (if necessary)

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Race Schedule

Wednesday August 23, 2007
9:00-9:50 am USAR HPCS Practice
11:10-11:50am USAR HPCS Final Practice
2:30 pm USAR HPCS Food City 150 Qualifying
5:15 pm USAR HPCS Pre Race Ceremonies and driver Introductions
5:45 pm USAR HPCS Food City 150

-credit: usar

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , Trevor Bayne , Caleb Holman , Shane Huffman , Richard Boswell