USAR: Championship Breakdown 2005-10-06

The Championship Breakdown Longs, SC - Four races remain to determine what Hooters Pro Cup Series driver will walk away with $200,000 for being the 2005 Hooters Pro Cup Champion. Although only one driver will claim the top prize, over $800,000...

The Championship Breakdown

Longs, SC - Four races remain to determine what Hooters Pro Cup Series driver will walk away with $200,000 for being the 2005 Hooters Pro Cup Champion.

Although only one driver will claim the top prize, over $800,000 will divided among the rest of the top 30 in points. As it stands now, 92 points separates the top 20 in points, making every position crucial in the final four races.

Below is a listing of the top-20 drivers in points after the first race of the Championship Series, a Jennerstown Review and a Mansfield Preview.

1. Shane Huffman (No. 81s Knight's Companies Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 11th
Championship Series Points: 296
Points ahead of 2nd: 1
Point standing before Jennerstown: 1st
Season Avg. Finish: 8.5
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 8.4

Jennerstown Review
Huffman had an eventful start to the Championship Series. He qualified a season-worst 19th and ran there for much of the first half of the race. Late in the race, Huffman worked his way to fourth, cut a right-front tire and finished 11th. It wasn't the start he wanted to the Championship Series, but it's better than his 23rd-place finish at Jennerstown in 2003.

Mansfield Preview
Huffman should be good at Mansfield. Huffman was going for the lead earlier this year when he tangled with Jeff Agnew late in the race. A rough-driving penalty dropped Huffman to 12th at the finish. Last year, Huffman was involved in an early-race crash, but he rebounded to finish sixth with a battered car.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 6th (10/9/04)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 9.0 (2 starts)

2. Benny Gordon (No. 66n Predator Performance Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 13th
Championship Series Points: 295
Points behind 1st: 1
Points ahead of 3rd: 12
Point standing before Jennerstown: 1st
Season Avg. Finish: 9.67
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 9.4

Jennerstown Review
For the second year in a row, Gordon's hopes of winning the championship opener were dashed by a cut tire. On the bright side, Gordon finished 13th this time around. Last year, Gordon finished 20th in the Jennerstown race.

Mansfield Preview
Benny Gordon is good most everywhere, but he's extremely good at Mansfield. He swept the events at MMS last season and led a race-high 98 laps in the June race.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 1st (10/9/04 & 7/31/04)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 3.3 (3 starts)

3. Joe Gaita (No. 46n SPEEDCO Truck Lubes Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 1st
Championship Series Points: 283
Points behind 1st: 13
Points ahead of 4th: 18
Point standing before Jennerstown: 18th
Season Avg. Finish: 13.69
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 11.0

Jennerstown Review
Joe Gaita is a good guy. That's why his win in the Championship Series opener was well-received around the garage area. He didn't win in dominating fashion, but he was around at the finish. And that's something five other leaders couldn't do.

Mansfield Preview
It will be tough for Gaita to make it two in a row, but not many gave him a chance to win one race in the Championship Series. But he doesn't have to win another race. His win thrust him into title contention. Gaita has been on a tear of late, picking up three top-five finishes in the last five races. Another top-five finish would keep him in the thick of the title chase.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 21st (6/11/05)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 28.0 (2 starts)

4. Gary St. Amant (No. 11n JEGS.com Chevrolet)
Finish at Jennerstown: 6th
Championship Series Points: 265
Points behind 1st: 31
Points ahead of 5th: 4
Point standing before Jennerstown: 8th
Season Avg. Finish: 6.92
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 6.2

Jennerstown Review
St. Amant wasn't pleased with his car at Jennerstown, but he liked the way it finished. And he should. St. Amant was highest-finishing driver highest in the points. Confusing, but it's true.

Mansfield Preview
This race is critical in St. Amant's title run. A top-five finish would place the short-track veteran squarely in the points race for the final three events. And that shouldn't be out of the question. He's posted two top-five finishes in three starts at MMS.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 5th (10/9/04)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 5.6

5. Johnny Rumley (No. 8n Lucas Oil Chevrolet)
Finish at Jennerstown: 4th
Championship Series Points: 261
Points behind 1st: 35
Points ahead of 6th: 10
Point standing before Jennerstown: 14th
Season Avg. Finish: 12.54
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 10.0

Jennerstown Review
Rumley made one mistake at Jennerstown. He dropped down to pit too early and was forced to the rear of the field. Rumley was 10 spots ahead of eventual winner Joe Gaita when the penalty was served. He rumbled back to fourth at the finish, but he had a car that could've won.

Mansfield Preview
Rumley's lone bright spot at Mansfield came in '04 when he qualified second and led 24 laps. In three races, he's posted three finishes outside the top 15.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 16th (6/11/05)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 23.3 (3 starts)

6. Jay Fogleman (No. 4s Lucas Oil Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 7th
Championship Series Points: 251
Points behind 1st: 45
Points ahead of 7th: Tied
Point standing before Jennerstown: 11th
Season Avg. Finish: 8.88
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 10.6

Jennerstown Review
Fogleman's team turned a bad start into a solid finish at Jennerstown. After making major adjustments and nearly losing a lap, Fogleman climbed back inside the top 10, finishing seventh.

Mansfield Preview
Fogleman is supposed to break out a new ride at Mansfield. And that could be good or bad. If the gremlins are worked out, Fogleman should be strong. He finished fourth in last season's event.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 4th (10/9/04)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 11.3 (3 starts)

7. Michael Faulk (No. 53s LiftOff Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 3rd
Championship Series Points: 251
Points behind 1st: 45
Points ahead of 8th: 4
Point standing before Jennerstown: 20th
Season Avg. Finish: 14.07
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 7.8

Jennerstown Review
Faulk was turning the quickest times at the end of the Jennerstown event, but the rookie ran out of laps to bolster his career-best finish. Faulk did match his career-best, however. His third-place finish helped him vault 13 places in points and take over the rookie point lead.

Mansfield Preview
Faulk tested at Mansfield following the Jennerstown race, but he's never raced at the track.

Best Finish at Mansfield: First Start at Track
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: First Start at Track

8. Mardy Lindley (No. 16n Hooters Air Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 14th
Championship Series Points: 247
Points behind 1st: 49
Points ahead of 9th: 1
Point standing before Jennerstown: 4th
Season Avg. Finish: 5.46
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 5.2

Jennerstown Review
After completing every lap during the regular season, Lindley only completed 249 circuits at Jennerstown. Not only was his lap streak snapped, Lindley's streak of 12 top-10 finishes fell by the wayside as well. Lindley finished a season-worst 14th.

Mansfield Preview
Mansfield should be a track that Lindley can get back on track. In three starts at MMS, Lindley has finished in the top 10 every time and led 70 laps. It would be a good time for Lindley to start another streak.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 4th (6/11/05)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 6.6 (3 starts)

9. Woody Howard (No. 55n Dean Motorsports Chevrolet)
Finish at Jennerstown: 17th
Championship Series Points: 246
Points behind 1st: 50
Points ahead of 10th: 3
Point standing before Jennerstown: 6th
Season Avg. Finish: 9.0
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 5.6

Jennerstown Review
Drivers always say, "Sometimes the fastest car doesn't win." Often, they say it without merit. But nobody would refute Howard for repeating the axiom after he finished 17th at Jennerstown. Howard put six seconds between himself and the rest of the field in the middle stage of the race before a cut tire dropped him from contention.

Mansfield Preview
In Howard's only start at Mansfield, the Virginia driver finished 14th. But that was before his midseason surge. Howard reeled off three wins in the final six races of the regular season. That was the same Howard that showed up at Jennerstown, and the one likely to be at Mansfield.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 14th (6/11/05)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 14.0 (1 start)

10. Matt Carter (No. 03s LCT/Atlantic Tools Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 8th
Championship Series Points: 243
Points behind 1st: 53
Points ahead of 11th: 3
Point standing before Jennerstown: 13th
Season Avg. Finish: 10.43
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 9.0

Jennerstown Review
Carter wasn't good-or bad-at Jennerstown and came home with an eighth-place finish. It was a solid start to the five-race shootout, and Carter actually made up 11 points on Shane Huffman.

Mansfield Preview
Carter's only stumble in last year's Championship Series came at Mansfield, where he finished 25th. He was able to rally to finish seventh in points and claim the '04 ROTY title. The only title Carter is eligible for this season is the overall one, and he can ill-afford another stagger at Mansfield.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 25th (10/9/04)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 25.0 (1 start)

11. Jeff Agnew (No. 73 NGA Hooters Golf Tour Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 15th
Championship Series Points: 240
Points behind 1st: 56
Points ahead of 12th: 6
Point standing before Jennerstown: 10th
Season Avg. Finish: 10.57
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 7.6

Jennerstown Review
Jeff Agnew said his car wouldn't run until the 100-lap mark at Jennerstown. When his Ford did come around, Agnew checked out on the field for 40 laps. But Agnew's window of opportunity, and fuel window, closed on Lap 149 when he coasted to pit road. While refueling under green, Agnew lost a lap and dropped to 15th at the finish.

Mansfield Preview
Week in and week out, Agnew has been a factor near the front of the field. Agnew should be a player at Mansfield, but he needs to back up a strong run with a strong finish, because the weeks are running out.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 3rd (10/9/04)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 10.75 (4 starts)

12. Mark McFarland (No. 32s WINFUEL Chevrolet)
Finish at Jennerstown: 26th
Championship Series Points: 234
Points behind 1st: 62
Points ahead of 13th: 3
Point Standing before Jennerstown: 3rd
Season Avg. Finish: 9.56
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 9.4

Jennerstown Review
Everything looked to be going McFarland's way at Jennerstown. His point's rivals, Benny Gordon and Shane Huffman, were struggling, his crew sent him off pit road first and he took over the lead on Lap 150. However, it was a reoccurring theme at Jennerstown that good nights quickly turned bad, and McFarland wasn't immune to the matter, cutting a tire on Lap 164 and falling to 26th at the finish.

Mansfield Preview
McFarland was solid in his only Pro Cup start at MMS earlier this year, running in the top five before falling from contention with an alternator problem. He can't afford a problem this time around, because he's used his mulligan for the Championship Series and is 62 points behind Huffman in the point's battle.

McFarland did finish sixth in the Craftsman Truck Series race at Mansfield last season.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 26th (6/11/05)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 26.0 (1 start)

13. Mart Nesbitt (No. 88n ConstructionJobs.com Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 10th
Championship Series Points: 231
Points behind 1st: 65
Points ahead of 14th: 7
Point Standing before Jennerstown: 16th
Season Avg. Finish: 15.24
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 11.0

Jennerstown Review
Mart Nesbitt beat Clay Rogers, Mark McFarland, Shane Huffman, Benny Gordon, Woody Howard, Jeff Agnew and Mardy Lindley at Jennerstown. Just looking at that, one would think Nesbitt won, but he actually finished 10th and only gained three points on Huffman.

Mansfield Preview
Nesbitt holds the track record at Mansfield, but his best finish is eighth. Two years ago, Nesbitt caught fire in the Championship Series and finished fifth overall. Another top-five at MMS could spark another run.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 8th (10/9/04)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 9.0 (2 races)

14. Jody Lavender (No. 84s Heritage Bank Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 18th
Championship Series Points: 224
Points behind 1st: 72
Points ahead of 15th: 1
Point Standing before Jennerstown: 9th
Season Avg. Finish: 12.80
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 9.4

Jennerstown Review
After becoming a fixture at the front nearly every week in the Southern Division, Lavender slipped at Jennerstown, finishing 18th. It could be a minor setback or a sign of things to come. In the last three races, Lavender has finished outside the top 15 twice.

Mansfield Preview
If there's a track that could get Lavender headed in the right direction, it's MMS. In his first Pro Cup season, Lavender finished third at the half-mile track. But since then, Lavender has posted finishes of 32nd and 34th at MMS.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 3rd (7/31/04)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 23.0 (3 starts)

15. Joey Logano (No. 51n Joe Gibbs Performance Racing Oil Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 2nd
Championship Series Points: 223
Points behind 1st: 73
Points ahead of 16th: 6
Point standing before Jennerstown: 44th
Season Avg. Finish: 11.50
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 11.0

Jennerstown Review
To win races, you have to put yourself in position to do so. It usually takes rookies a while to learn the concept, but Logano has proved he isn't an average rookie. In every race he's finished on the lead lap, he's finished in the top five. He was pressuring Gaita all the way under the checkered flag at Jennerstown. While he didn't win, Logano picked up 29 positions in points with his second-place finish. More importantly, Logano closed to within 28 points of the rookie point lead.

Mansfield Preview
Logano's only memory of Mansfield is one that will stay with him for the rest of his life. In just his second race in Pro Cup, Logano held off Mike Laughlin Jr. to become the youngest-winner in Pro Cup history.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 1st (6/11/05)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 1.0 (1 start)

16. Bobby Gill (No. 06s USG Sheetrock Brand Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 28th
Championship Series Points: 217
Points behind 1st: 79
Points ahead of 17th: 1
Point standing before Jennerstown: 7th
Season Avg. Finish: 11.64
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 16.6

Jennerstown Review
Gill looked to be on his way to a good points night at Jennerstown. He was running second with 50 laps remaining, but a sour powerplant dropped him to 28th at the finish. He was 50 points behind Gordon and Huffman coming into Jennerstown, but Gill fell to 79 points out of the lead with his DNF.

Mansfield Preview
Gill finished .408 of a second behind Benny Gordon last year in his only start at MMS. That type of result this time around will put Gill back in contention heading into Myrtle Beach. Gill is another driver supposedly unveiling a new car this weekend.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 2nd (10/9/04)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 2.0 (1 start)

17. Daniel Johnson (No. 56s Charlotte Check Cashers Pontiac)
Finish at Jennerstown: 9th
Championship Series Points: 216
Points behind 1st: 80
Points ahead of 18th: 3
Point standing before Jennerstown: 30th
Season Avg. Finish: 16.14
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 10.2

Jennerstown Review
Daniel Johnson carried the "Little Guy" banner well at Jennerstown. His ninth-place finish showed what hard work and dedication can do. Rather than focus on what he didn't have, he made do with what he did have and jumped 13 positions in points.

Mansfield Preview
Johnson may be out-gunned, but he refuses to be out-fought. He'll need to pack some extra punch this time around, however. His only start at Jennerstown resulted in a 31st-place finish.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 31st (10/9/05)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 31.0 (1 start)

18. Clay Rogers (No. 44s Johnny's Suzuki/Baird Transport Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 37th
Championship Series Points: 213
Points behind 1st: 83
Points ahead of 19th: 7
Point standing before Jennerstown: 5th
Season Avg. Finish: 11.71
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 15.0

Jennerstown Review
After swapping engines during practice and logging just a handful of laps, Clay Rogers ripped off the fifth-quickest lap of the 44 cars attempting to make the show. Unfortunately for Rogers, the replacement engine made just six circuits before puking. Rogers finished 37th.

Mansfield Preview
Earlier this season, Clay Rogers finished ninth at Mansfield. The top-10 finish was his best finish in three starts at the Ohio track, but it wasn't his best run. In his two previous starts at MMS, Rogers led 73 laps before being involved in accidents. He stands as good a chance as anyone to take the victory this time around.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 9th (6/11/05)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 21.6 (3 starts)

19. A.J. Frank (No. 45n Johnny's Suzuki/Baird Transport Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 29th
Championship Series Points: 206
Points behind 1st: 90
Points ahead of 20th: 2
Point Standing before Jennerstown: 12th
Season Avg. Finish: 13.07
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 17.4

Jennerstown Review
Frank looked poised to break out of his late-season slump at Jennerstown. He was solid in practice and qualifying, but a mechanical problem dropped him to 29th at the finish.

Mansfield Preview
A top-five is a must for Frank's championship hopes. He's only 90 points out, but it's highly unlikely that the frontrunners will all stumble again.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 10th (6/11/05)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 10.0 (1 start)

20. Toby Porter (No. 13s Titan Industrial Ford)
Finish at Jennerstown: 23rd
Championship Series Points: 204
Points behind 1st: 92
Points ahead of 21st: Tied
Point standing before Jennerstown: 15th
Season Avg. Finish: 14.00
Last Five Races Avg. Finish: 18.2

Jennerstown Review
Porter nearly missed the show at Jennerstown. Fortunately for Porter, he earned the use of a provisional and started 37th. He advanced 14 spots to finish 23rd, but it was a bad day all around for somebody everyone thought would be a threat for the title.

Mansfield Preview
Porter needs to revert to the midseason form that put him on victory's doorstep at USA Int'l and Myrtle Beach. If he can get a top five at MMS, with Myrtle Beach and USA Int'l coming up, Porter could claw his way back into fight for the title.

Best Finish at Mansfield: 33rd (6/11/05)
Avg. Finish at Mansfield: 33.0 (1 start)

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , Jody Lavender , Mark McFarland , Michael Faulk , Shane Huffman , Joey Logano , A.J. Frank , Johnny R , Jeff Agnew