USAR: Lakeland Hooter''s Cup Preview

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. -- February has arrived which means United Speed Alliance Racing is has made preparations to begin another action-packed season of Hooters ProCup Series racing. The series begins its fourth year of competition at the "home" track...

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. -- February has arrived which means United Speed Alliance Racing is has made preparations to begin another action-packed season of Hooters ProCup Series racing. The series begins its fourth year of competition at the "home" track of the series USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Florida. Over 40 drivers are scheduled to take the green flag in the Naturally Fresh 250 presented by Johnsonville Bratwurst which is the first event on the 20-race 2000 schedule.

As the season draws ever closer, the stage will be set for the young series to determine who will lead the charge at the fastest track currently on the schedule. Defending Hooters ProCup Series champion Bobby Gill looks to defend his crown, while a bountiful crop of talented drivers will be in contention for the most prestigious championship in short track racing.

The Hooters ProCup Series has crowned three different champions in its short history. Mario Gosselin won the first title in 1997 and has continued to be a force in the series as the Florida driver currently holds the series record for most career wins with 15. Jeff Agnew used 14 top-10 finishes en route to capturing both Rookie of the Year and championship honors in 1998.

As for the upcoming race at USA International Speedway, Auburndale, Florida native Derrick Kelley looks to become the first driver since Michael Ritch to win back-to-back races and the fifth driver overall to win two races at USA International Speedway.

Kelley made up a two-lap deficit to win the season-ending Alan Kulwicki Memorial/Hooters 250 last November. Kelley also won the Charlie Campbell Memorial/Hooters 250 at Hickory in July which gave him two wins in the four race challenge series. Kelley collected a single-day payoff of $33,000 with his win.

Mardy Lindley finished his impressive rookie campaign with a second place finish while Andy Thurman, David Pletcher and Kertus Davis completed the top five.

USA International Speedway has held more Hooters ProCup Series events than any other track on the 2000 schedule. A total of 11 events have been held at the 3/4-mile track. The track will host the Hooters ProCup Series on June 3, September 2, and close the season with the annual running of the Alan Kulwicki Memorial/Hooters 300 on November 25, 2000.

Gill set the track record in qualifying in November with a time of 21.804 (117.144 mph). The record is sure to fall with the cool temperatures expected at the track and a new tire developed by Goodyear Tire.

The race will feature several new faces when the green flag falls. As of February 10, 2000 over 25 drivers have registered for the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year crown.

Pletcher, Dexter Canipe, Shane Huffman, Eddie Pearson, Brian Vickers, Link Kiser, Regan Smith, Jon Wood, and B.J. McLeod are just a few of the rookies scheduled to compete at USA International Speedway.

While series veterans such as Gosselin, Jay Fogleman, Mart Nesbitt, Charlie Ford, Joe Harrison Jr., Don Satterfield, Jabe Jones, Bill Plemons, Jr. and Tim Clayton, who is tied for the record for most career starts with 51, will all challenge for the win. Mart Nesbitt and Jabe Jones are among the handful of drivers who hope to turn things around in 2000 after a hard-luck seasons in 1999.

While the rookies and veterans are sure to charge for the win,  the 1999 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year Steven Christian, along with Mardy Lindley, Andy Thurman, Trent Owens, Karen Schulz, Toby Porter and Mike Laughlin, Jr. are just some of the young lions poised to collect a win to start the 2000 campaign.

Haulers will park Friday afternoon with tech inspection open from 2-6 p.m. Competitor gates will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday February 26, 2000 with the green flag scheduled to fall at 7 p.m.

For more information, please contact the USAR office at 1-800-852-7223 or USA International Speedway at 1-800-964-7223.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Jon Wood , Trent Owens , Brian Vickers , Regan Smith , Kertus Davis , Mario Gosselin , Shane Huffman , Jeff Agnew , Alan Kulwicki