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USA Int'l Speedway to usher in the "New Era of Pro Cup" Longs, SC-February 26 is a date that has been circled on race fans' calendars for months. The Naturally Fresh 250 presented by Crane Cams at USA Int'l Speedway in Lakeland, Fla., will...

USA Int'l Speedway to usher in the "New Era of Pro Cup"

Longs, SC-February 26 is a date that has been circled on race fans' calendars for months.

The Naturally Fresh 250 presented by Crane Cams at USA Int'l Speedway in Lakeland, Fla., will kick off the Hooters Pro Cup season on the final Saturday of February. While the waving of the green flag will signal the start of a new year, it may well usher in a new era for the HPC Series.

"I don't know if there has ever been this much anticipation about a season getting started," said Tony Cox, USAR Vice President and Series Director. "The interest in the series has increased by leaps and bounds since the end of last season. We've added new sponsors and new drivers at a record pace. We're starting to see the Hooters Pro Cup Series is getting the recognition it deserves."

And the adorning accolades are coming from some heavy hitters in the motorsports world.

Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip will all field teams in the Hooters Pro Cup Series. Coupled with the return of Jason Sarvis, up-and-coming driver Shane Wallace and the addition of Mike Garvey, the Hooters Pro Cup Series is poised for its most competitive season in history.

"As a race team, you want to race where the competition is, and the Hooters Pro Cup Series is that place." said Jamie Mosley, owner of the No. 06 USG Sheetrock Brand Ford driven by Bobby Gill. "With the new teams coming in, everybody is going to have to step their games up. It's going to be tough, but it's going to be fun."

The expanding entertainment level will be shared among fans as well; however, USA Int'l Speedway fans may not be able to handle any more fun.

Less than three months ago, the Florida faithful were treated to a drama-laden conclusion of the 2004 season.

The Hooters Pro Cup championship, the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year title, and Hooters 300 winner were all settled on the final lap. Clay Rogers nipped Benny Gordon to win the 2004 Hooters Pro Cup Championship by 18 points after Gordon suffered a mechanical failure, Matt Carter finished 20 points ahead of Gary St. Amant in the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year title. Not to mention, Bobby Gill and Jay Fogleman waged an epic battle for the win in the Hooters 300. Gill and Fogleman fought fender-to-fender over the final 10 laps of the race, trading the lead-and paint-in every corner. Gill eventually out-dueled Fogleman to win his 10th race at USA Int'l Speedway.

The Naturally Fresh 250 will be hard-pressed to produce the theater of last year's season finale, but the cast of characters on hand will certainly be capable of producing a sequel.

The Naturally Fresh 250 will take the green flag at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26.

Fans are encouraged to come out early to enjoy Pro Cup practice, qualifying and the pre-race autograph session. Front Gates open at 11:30 a.m. Qualifying will start at 4:30 p.m. and the pre-race autograph session will begin at 6:15 p.m.

For more information, contact USA Int'l Speedway at (863) 984-3173.

-usar-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Clay Rogers , Mike Garvey