USAR: Pensacola: Round two preview

USAR returns to Five Flags Speedway. MRYTLE BEACH,SC - The historic Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL will host the USAR Hooters ProCup Series for the third consecutive year when the Series visits the challenging one-half mile track on ...

USAR returns to Five Flags Speedway.

MRYTLE BEACH,SC - The historic Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL will host the USAR Hooters ProCup Series for the third consecutive year when the Series visits the challenging one-half mile track on Saturday, March 15th for the running of the Hooters ProCup 250 presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts and Alltel. The visit by the 3,300-lb. stock cars at the track known for hosting the Snowball Derby could produce a new winner.

One driver who has competed in the Snowball Derby and the Series is two- time defending race winner Bobby Gill. Gill missed the season opening race in Lakeland after he was sidelined by shoulder surgery. Gill suffered the shoulder injury at Five Flags Speedway last December during the Snowball Derby.

"We will be at Pensacola," said a determined Gill. "Missing Lakeland was the first time I have missed a race to injury. I am going to go as long as I can in the car but I plan on running the entire race."

Gill suffered a torn rotator cuff injury when he made hard contact with the outside wall during the running of the Snowball Derby last December. Gill, who has his shop in Mooresville, NC, has been attending rehabilitation sessions at Lakeside Rehab in Mooresville and feels confident he can start at Pensacola.

"Joe Gaita is running well and coming off of a win and he will be ready," Gill said. "We will be ready too and with the way the points system is in the Hooters ProCup Series we should be able to catch up. Heck, I just gave everybody a head start."

Although his humurous tongue and cheek response is typical Gill, his statement about a head start is not to far from the truth based on his performance last season.

Gill set a new record for wins when his visited victory lane 14 times during the 2002 season, including his season-ending win at USA International Speedway which moved him into second place in the final point standings. He outdistanced Steven Christian easily in the Southern Division and appeared headed for his fourth consecutive USAR Hooters ProCup Series championship until mechanical problems in two of the five Championship Series events ended his bid.

Joe Gaita clearly enters the 250-lap race as one of the favorites after his win at Lakeland and will face contention from Shane Huffman. The North Carolina driver won his second consecutive pole last season at the track and contended for the win before mechanical problems made his lose two laps during the race and finished 10th.

One of the biggest concerns for the USAR Hooters ProCup drivers is the condition of the asphalt at the track.

"The surface just eats up your tires," said Gill after last year's win. "You have to have a good setup underneath you because your tires are going to go away and everybody is basically holding on after about 40 or 50 laps."

The race will be the second of three races in Florida to begin the 2003 season for the Series. It will feature local favorites such as Scott York, as well as some of the best short track drivers from across the country. The race will also be the closest for the only driver to compete from the state of Mississippi when Calvine Redwine attempts to qualify.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Shane Huffman