USAR: Championship Breakdown 2005-11-22

The Championship Breakdown Longs, SC - With one race left in the 2005 season, seven drivers still have a mathematical shot at winning the Hooters Pro Cup Series championship. Undoubtedly, most of the focus will be on Benny Gordon, Shane Huffman...

The Championship Breakdown

Longs, SC - With one race left in the 2005 season, seven drivers still have a mathematical shot at winning the Hooters Pro Cup Series championship. Undoubtedly, most of the focus will be on Benny Gordon, Shane Huffman and Jeff Agnew, who are separated by 34 points, but point battles will rage throughout field in the Hooters 300.

With over $1.2 million in point-fund monies on the line, each position in the final race will be critical in the standings.

Below is a listing of the top-20 drivers in points, a Motor Mile Review and a USA Int'l Speedway Preview.

1. Benny Gordon (No. 66n Predator Performance Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 7th
Championship Series Points: 704
Points ahead of 2nd: 33
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: 0
Season Avg. Finish: 9.17
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 8.25

Motor Mile Review
Benny Gordon's stat line at Motor Mile shows he started 15th and finished seventh. But the way he got to seventh was a long, strange trip. Gordon was involved in a wreck, dropped to 26th, nearly lost a lap and rallied to finish seventh.

USA Int'l Preview
Gordon probably hasn't had much sleep in the last three weeks. Last season, Gordon carried a 39-point lead into the season finale, and this year's scenario is eerily similar to last year. Gordon needs to finish second to lock up the title, unless Agnew or Huffman acquire all 20-bonus points and win.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 6th (11/29/03)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 17.33 (3 races)

2. Shane Huffman (No. 81s Knight's Companies Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 1st
Championship Series Points: 671
Points behind 1st: 33
Points ahead of 3rd: 1
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: +3
Season Avg. Finish: 8.58
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 9.5

Motor Mile Review
Shane Huffman started from the pole, led the most laps and won his eighth race of the season. It was a near-perfect night. He jumped from fifth to second in points and trimmed 49 points off Gordon's lead.

USA Int'l Preview
Shane Huffman has been the man to beat at USA Int'l Speedway all year. He won the season-opener and the June race at the .75-mile track. In addition, Huffman had the dominant car in regular-season finale before tangling with Shane Wallace. Huffman needs to win, pick up as many bonus points as he can and hope Gordon isn't in his rearview mirror as he crosses the finish line.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 1st (11/29/03, 2/26/05 & 6/5/05)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 10.8 (20 starts)

3. Jeff Agnew (No. 73n NGA Hooters Golf Tour Pontiac)
Finish at Motor Mile: 2nd
Championship Series Points: 670
Points behind 1st: 34
Points ahead of 4th: 33
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: 0
Season Avg. Finish: 9.24
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 6.0

Motor Mile Review
Agnew made a valiant run through the field after halfway, but he came up 2.269 seconds shy of breaking the "Motor Mile" curse. What he did do, however, is give himself a realistic shot at picking up his second Hooters Pro Cup Series title with second second-place finish in a row.

USA Int'l Preview
In the past, Agnew's success at USA Int'l Speedway has been limited. In the 17 starts, he's only been able to post a best finish of second. He'll need to better that his time around to keep the pressure on Gordon and Huffman.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 2nd (2/24/01)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 10.77 (17 starts)

4. Gary St. Amant (No. 11n JEGS.com Chevrolet)
Finish at Motor Mile: 11th
Championship Series Points: 637
Points behind 1st: 67
Points ahead of 5th: 4
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: -2
Season Avg. Finish: 6.94
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 6.75

Motor Mile Review
Last year, St. Amant stumbled at Motor Mile and it cost him the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year title. This season, he stumbled again, finishing 11th, and it may cost him a shot at the overall title. St. Amant dropped from second to fourth in points with his first finish outside the top 10 in the Championship Series.

USA Int'l Preview
Last season, St. Amant bounced back at USA Int'l Speedway after his bad run at Motor Mile by finishing fifth. A fifth-place finish this time around will likely lock him in the top five in overall points, but it won't win the title unless Gordon, Huffman and Agnew fall from the race.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 5th (11/27/04)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 5.0 (1 start)

5. Matt Carter (No. 03s LCT/Atlantic Tools Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 6th
Championship Series Points: 633
Points behind 1st: 71
Points ahead of 6th: 17
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: -1
Season Avg. Finish: 6.47
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 5.75

Motor Mile Review
Carter finished sixth at Motor Mile, making him the only driver to post four top-10 finishes in the Championship Series. Despite his accomplishments, Carter only made up four points on Gordon at Motor Mile.

USA Int'l Preview
Carter's best chance at picking up a win could be this weekend. Carter runs well at USA Int'l Speedway, and so does his team, HWK Racing. Toby Porter, Carter's former teammate, finished second to Shane Huffman in the June race at USA Int'l. If Carter wins, he may not win the title, but he could jump inside the top three in final points.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 4th (2/26/05)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 10.62 (8 starts)

6. Woody Howard (No. 55n Dean Motorsports Chevrolet)
Finish at Motor Mile: 3rd
Championship Series Points: 616
Points behind 1st: 88
Points ahead of 7th: 3
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: +3
Season Avg. Finish: 8.81
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 10.25

Motor Mile Review
Woody Howard locked up the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year title with his third-place finish at Motor Mile. But for awhile, it looked like the Joe Gibbs Development driver may have a car capable of winning. He fought Huffman tooth and nail for 20 laps before giving up the top spot.

USA Int'l Preview
Once the green unfurls at USA Int'l Speedway, Howard will be crowned the 2005 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year. He admits that was the team's main goal at beginning of the season, but Howard is a fierce competitor that will be gunning for his fourth win. This will be Howard's first start at the Florida track, but he won three times this season at tracks where he was making his first start.

Best Finish at Lakeland: (First Start at Track)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: (First Start at Track)

7. Jody Lavender (No. 84s Heritage Bank Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 4th
Championship Series Points: 613
Points behind 1st: 91
Points ahead of 8th: 17
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: +1
Season Avg. Finish: 11.56
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 8.5

Motor Mile Review
Lavender started fourth and finished fourth at Motor Mile. Lavender may have been able to pick up another position, but fading brakes slowed his run late in the race.

USA Int'l Preview
Lavender would need a miracle to leave USA Int'l Speedway with the title. He'll need to better his career-best finish of fourth at the high-banked track and hope misfortune sets in on the top six in points.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 4th (9/3/05)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 8.6 (6 starts)

8. Joe Gaita (No. 46 SPEEDCO Truck Lubes Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 10th
Championship Series Points: 596
Points behind 1st: 108
Points ahead of 9th: 18
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: -2
Season Avg. Finish: 13.56
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 10.0

Motor Mile Review
Gaita hung around the tail end of the top 10 for much of the night and finished 10th. It wasn't a great run, but it kept him inside the top 10 in points and puts him in prime position to break into the top five in overall points.

USA Int'l Preview
Gaita's Pro Cup career got off to a great start in 2003 when he won the season-opening race at USA Int'l. Since joining ODLE Motorsports last season, Gaita has been ultra-competitive at times, but he's also seen his fair share of bad luck. He'll need to rid himself of the latter at USA Int'l Speedway to have a shot at breaking into the top five.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 1st (2/22/03)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 12.80 (8 starts)

9. Johnny Rumley (No. 8n Lucas Oil Chevrolet)
Finish at Motor Mile: 13th
Championship Series Points: 578
Points behind 1st: 126
Points ahead of 10th: 11
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: -2
Season Avg. Finish: 12.31
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 9.5

Motor Mile Review
Nobody thought Rumley would be an afterthought at Motor Mile, but that was the case. He started 10th and finish 13th at his old stomping ground. A win would have kept his title hopes alive, but a malfunctioning ratchet killed his chances and his right-rear tire.

USA Int'l Preview
Rumley may be in a Ford this weekend. And it may be a Predator Ford. And he may have a teammate. Either way, Rumley should be good at USA Int'l Speedway.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 4th (3/6/99)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 13.37 (8 starts)

10. Clay Rogers (No. 44s Johnny's Suzuki/Baird Transport Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 5th
Championship Series Points: 567
Points behind 1st: 137
Points ahead of 11th: 27
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: +1
Season Avg. Finish: 11.20
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 15.5

Motor Mile Review
Clay Rogers showed signs of strength at Motor Mile during parts of the race, but he was unable to keep his momentum for an entire run and finished fifth.

USA Int'l Preview
The Hooters 300 will mark the end of Rogers' tenure as the reigning Hooters Pro Cup champion. His Pro Cup season didn't go as planned, but he's shown well in the Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series this season in limited starts and will likely end up in one of those series next season. But you can bet one thing, Rogers wants to leave Pro Cup with another win. And he's certainly capable of winning the season finale.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 1st (2/28/04)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 12.71 (17 starts)

11. Mark McFarland (No. 32s WINFUEL Chevrolet)
Finish at Motor Mile: 8th
Championship Series Points: 540
Points behind 1st: 164
Points ahead of 12th: 3
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: +4
Season Avg. Finish: 10.58
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 18.5

Motor Mile Review
McFarland took off like he was shot out of a cannon at Motor Mile Speedway, bypassing Huffman and leading 33 of 34 laps at the start of the race. After losing the lead, McFarland stayed in touch with the leader during the first run, but he faded to eighth in the final run.

USA Int'l Preview
It's been a busy few weeks for McFarland and the JR Motorsports. In addition to getting ready for the Hooters 300, the team also tested its No. 88 Navy Chevrolet at Homestead and competed in the final Busch race of the season, finishing 20th. If the whirlwind week hasn't slowed the team, McFarland should compete for the win in the final race.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 3rd (6/5/05)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 15.0 (3 starts)

12. Bobby Gill (No. 06s USG Sheetrock Brand Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 26th
Championship Series Points: 537
Points behind 1st: 167
Points ahead of 13th: 5
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: -2
Season Avg. Finish: 12.00
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 17.25

Motor Mile Review
Gill made a charge through the pack early in the race, but mechanical problems dropped the three-time champ to 26th at the finish, ending any shot he had at becoming a four-time champ.

USA Int'l Preview
Gill won the season finale last season at USA Int'l Speedway, and he won the regular-season finale this season. All told, Gill has won 11 of 25 starts at USA Int'l Speedway. Needless to say, Gill will be a factor in the outcome this weekend.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 1st (11 times)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 6.8 (25 starts)

12. Brad Rogers (No. 22s Black's Tire Service Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 12th
Championship Series Points: 532
Points behind 1st: 172
Points ahead of 14th: 11
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: -1
Season Avg. Finish: 17.82
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 11.5

Motor Mile Review
For the first time since joining Ricky Benton Racing, Brad Rogers wasn't a frontrunner. The super sophomore qualified eighth and finished 12th.

USA Int'l Preview
Rogers runs well at USA Int'l Speedway and RBR has preformed well there in the past. If the two can combine their successes, Rogers should be in the top five at the finish and possibly break into the top 10 in final points.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 3rd (2/28/04)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 14.0 (5 starts)

14. Jay Fogleman (No. 4s Lucas Oil Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 15th
Championship Series Points: 521
Points behind 1st: 183
Points ahead of 15th: 16
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: -1
Season Avg. Finish: 10.58
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 16.5

Motor Mile Review
Fogleman's new car didn't push him into contender status the way most would have thought. For the second race in a row, Fogleman struggled and ran mid-pack, finishing 15th.

USA Int'l Preview
It's been a tumultuous season of ups and downs, and Fogleman is ready for it to be over. A win would be a great way to start the off-season, and Fogleman nearly won this race last year before running out of gas on the last lap.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 2nd (5/1/99)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 12.87 (22 starts)

15. Mart Nesbitt (No. 88n ConstructionJobs.com Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 20th
Championship Series Points: 505
Points behind 1st: 199
Points ahead of 16th: 0
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: -1
Season Avg. Finish: 15.85
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 17.0

Motor Mile Review
Nesbitt started 22nd and finished 20th at Motor Mile, marking the second time in the Championship Series he's finished 20th or worse.

USA Int'l Preview
Nesbitt's best run at USA Int'l Speedway came at the close of the 2003 season, but he wasn't in his own car. Nesbitt piloted Shane Huffman's backup car to a third-place finish and finished fifth in the final points. But Nesbitt won't have Huffman's car this time because Andrew Rogers will be driving it. Nesbitt will need to turn up the wick to repeat his 2003 finish.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 3rd (11/29/03)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 17.02 (23 starts)

16. Joey Logano (No. 51n Joe Gibbs Performance Racing Oil Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 15th
Championship Series Points: 505
Points behind 1st: 199
Points ahead of 17th: 10
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: +3
Season Avg. Finish: 13.31
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 15.0

Motor Mile Review
After looking like a veteran for much of the season, Logano committed plenty of rookie mistakes at Motor Mile, resulting in three penalties, a lost lap and a 15th-place finish.

USA Int'l Preview
Logano can't win the coveted rookie of the year, but he can become just the fourth rookie in Pro Cup history to win multiple races in their rookie seasons. Logano finished second to Bobby Gill at USA Int'l Speedway earlier this year, and he should be just as good this time around.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 2nd (9/3/05)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 2.0 (1 start)

17. Michael Ritch (No. 28s Jackaroo Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 25th
Championship Series Points: 495
Points behind 1st: 209
Points ahead of 18th: 5
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: 0
Season Avg. Finish: 19.67
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 22.75

Motor Mile Review
Motor Mile is usually one of Ritch's better tracks, but that wasn't the case this time around as Ritch suffered his series-high 10th DNF and finished 25th.

USA Int'l Preview
Since picking up a win at Mansfield, Ritch has finished 35th and 25th in the ensuing races. Given the right circumstances, Ritch can certainly win, but he'll need to finish the race to stay inside the top 20 in final points.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 1st (2 times)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 14.22 (21 starts)

18. Michael Faulk (No. 53s LIFTOFF Ford)
Finish at Motor Mile: 28th
Championship Series Points: 490
Points behind 1st: 214
Points ahead of 19th: 0
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: 0
Season Avg. Finish: 16.06
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 19.75

Motor Mile Review
Faulk was involved in an early-race spin that killed his rookie hopes and mangled his machine. Faulk retired on Lap 183 in 28th position.

USA Int'l Preview
Two months ago, Faulk finished third at USA Int'l Speedway and clinched the Southern Division Rookie of the Year. His overall rookie bid is over, but a win would ease the pain nicely.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 3rd (9/3/05)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 20.3 (3 starts)

19. Sam Fullone (No. 48n Pero Vegetables Chevrolet)
Finish at Motor Mile: 9th
Championship Series Points: 490
Points behind 1st: 214
Points ahead of 20th: 15
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: +3
Season Avg. Finish: 18.50
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 16.25

Motor Mile Review
Fullone's run at Motor Mile wasn't his career-best finish, but it was his best finish in a Championship Series event. Fullone worked his new Predator Performance car from 19th to ninth at the finish and jumped to 19th in points.

USA Int'l Preview
Fullone's team was ecstatic with his run at Motor Mile and hopes to carry the momentum over into the Hooters 300. Fullone will have a large contingent of Pero Vegetables fans in the crowd to cheer him on. Based on his Motor Mile performance, they may have plenty to cheer about.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 15th (11/27/04)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 16.0 (2 starts)

20. D.J. Kennington (No. 17n S.M. Freight Pontiac)
Finish at Motor Mile: 19th
Championship Series Points: 475
Points behind 1st: 229
Points ahead of 21st: 9
Point Positions Gained/Lost at Motor Mile: 0
Season Avg. Finish: 12.73
Championship Series Avg. Finish: 19.0

Motor Mile Review
Kennington made his first start for ShoTime Motorsports at Motor Mile, but it wasn't quite as good as he hoped. The Canadian driver started 20th and finish 19th.

USA Int'l Preview
Kennington needs to knock out a solid run at Lakeland to stay in the top 20 in points. He's only got two starts at USA Int'l Speedway, but he did finish 10th in last year's race.

Best Finish at Lakeland: 10th (11/27/04)
Avg. Finish at Lakeland: 21.0 (2 starts)

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , D.J. Kennington , Jody Lavender , Mark McFarland , Michael Faulk , Shane Huffman , Joey Logano , Johnny R , Jeff Agnew
Teams JR Motorsports