USAR: Mansfield CS: Championship round one preview

And So It Begins-- Mansfield Motorsports Park to host Charlie Campbell Memorial Sears Auto Center 250 Myrtle Beach, S.C.--Take two divisions of the best racers around, dangle nearly $1,000,000 in front of them, mix and stir. It's a...

And So It Begins--
Mansfield Motorsports Park to host Charlie Campbell Memorial Sears Auto Center 250

Myrtle Beach, S.C.--Take two divisions of the best racers around, dangle nearly $1,000,000 in front of them, mix and stir. It's a tried-and-true recipe that appeases any racing palette. And the first course will be served at Mansfield Motorsports Park on Saturday, Aug. 30.

The Charlie Campbell Memorial Sears Auto Center 250 is the first race of the Championship Series, a four-race playoff that brings both the Sears Auto Center Northern Division together with the Greased Lightning Southern Division to crown the overall Hooters Pro Cup Champion and Miller Lite Rookie of the Year.

Benny Gordon, the Northern Division champion, and Mark McFarland, the Southern Division champion, will come into MMP as the No. 1 Seeds and with a 40-point lead over Michael Ritch and Gary St. Amant, who finish second in their respective divisions.

By winning their divisions, McFarland and Gordon have a little breathing room, but both can have the air knocked out of them with a poor run in the Sears Auto Center 250.

"Having that 25 point bonus [for winning the division] really helps you out," said Gordon, driver of the No. 66n Samuel Metals Ford. "It almost gives you a mulligan, but it doesn't mean you can just ride around and win the title. There's going to be a lot of stiff competition in the Championship Series. I think you'll have to win at least one race to have a shot at the title."

If that's the case, it could be an interesting four-race shootout. There have been five first-time winners in the Hooters Pro Cup Series this season. And one win by any driver qualified for the Championship Series will put them in the thick of the title chase, regardless of seeding. Looking at the drivers eligible for competition in the Championships Series, 20 drivers have wins in the Hooters Pro Cup Series, and another 10 are capable of winning at any time.

"It's going to be tough. Benny Gordon and the fast North guys are going to be at every race. So are Clay Rogers, Michael Ritch and the rest of the Southern Division guys," said McFarland, driver of the No. 81s Sears Auto Center Chevrolet. "We're going to have to be at our very best to beat all of them. We've got a lot to do to be prepared the way we want to be for the championship races."

Last year at MMP, Bobby Gill, after starting 29th in the 36-car field, knifed his way to the top five just after the halfway mark, slid around Gary St. Amant for the lead on Lap 171 and led to the finish of the Charlie Campbell Memorial Sears Auto Center 250.

The win thrust Gill, who came into the Championship Series as a No. 3 Seed, into contention for the title. And after he added another victory in the season finale at USA Int'l Speedway, Gill claimed his fourth Hooters Pro Cup Championship.

Can Gill win a fifth title? Can Benny Gordon or Mark McFarland validate their No. 1 seeds, or will a dark horse emerge? Can past champions Jason Sarvis and Clay Rogers climb into contention after part-time seasons?

The ingredients have been placed together. Now it's time to turn on high heat for the next two months and see what comes out.

The Charlie Campbell Memorial Sears Auto Center 250 is slated for a green flag at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30. Fans are encouraged to come out early for Awesome Awnings Pole Qualifying at 4:30 p.m. MMP patrons will be allowed to mingle with the stars and cars of the Hooters Pro Cup Series during the Wraps INK Autograph Session at 5:45 p.m.

For ticket information, contact MMP at 419-525-RACE.

HOOTERS PRO CUP QUICK FACTS

WHAT: Charlie Campbell Memorial Sears Auto Center 250

WHERE:                  Mansfield Motorsports Park

.5-mile, progressively-banked oval

WHEN: Sat., August 30 at 7 PM

DISTANCE: 250/125 miles

POSTED AWARDS: $150,000

STARTING FIELD: 36-car starting field

TELEVISION: VERSUS NETWORK--Monday, Sept. 8 at 4 p.m. (ET)
Regional Networks: Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, Altitude Sports, Comcast SportsNet New England, SportsTime Ohio, Comcast SportsNet West, Cox Sports, Lonestar Sports, Mediacom, America One, DirectTV & Dish Network (Check Local Listings for Regional Airings)

WEEKEND SCHEDULE:

Saturday, August 30:
11:30 a.m. USAR Practice Begins
1:30 p.m. USAR Practice Ends
3:30 p.m. Front Gates Open
4:15 p.m. USAR Scuff Session
4:30 p.m. Awesome Awnings Pole Qualifying
5:00 p.m. Deadline to have cars on grid
5:45 p.m. Wraps INK Autograph Session
6:30 p.m. Sears Auto Center 250 Pre-race Ceremonies
7:00 p.m. Start of Charlie Campbell Memorial Sears Auto Center 250

HPCS Track Qualifying Record Mansfield:
Driver: Michael Ritch
Date: 9/1/07
Time: 16.441 SEC/109.482 MPH

-credit: usar

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , Mark McFarland