USAR: Salem: Northern Division round four preview

St. Amant Ready for Repeat Lucas Oil 200 set for Salem Speedway Myrtle Beach, S.C.--Coming off a third-place finish at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park, Gary St. Amant is looking forward to returning to the high banks of Salem Speedway for...

St. Amant Ready for Repeat

Lucas Oil 200 set for Salem Speedway

Myrtle Beach, S.C.--Coming off a third-place finish at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park, Gary St. Amant is looking forward to returning to the high banks of Salem Speedway for the running of the Lucas Oil 200 presented by Touchtone Energy on Saturday, June 28. And his optimism comes with good reason.

In four Hooters Pro Cup starts at the ultra-fast, half-mile track, St. Amant is averaging a 3.8 finish. It also doesn't hurt that he's the defending winner of the Lucas Oil 200, too.

"We've had really good cars in two of the first three events this season," said St. Amant, who jumped to fifth in the Sears Auto Center Northern Division standings after his podium finish at Mansfield. "We came [to Salem] last year with a new car here, didn't put a scratch on it and won the race. I think some of these guys had a good two- or three-lap car, but we had a good car after about 30 laps and it paid off. Our car was better on long runs at Mansfield, so I think we should be good again at Salem."

St. Amant started 16th last year, but he grabbed the lead on Lap 139, when then-leader Brandon Ward was swept into an accident.

But once in the lead, St. Amant had a mirror full of Clay Rogers, driver of the No. 29 Bowen Family Homes Ford, as the laps wound down. The two raced nose-to-tail for 15 laps before Rogers used a bump-and-run move to take the on Lap 174.

"Clay Rogers is one of the smartest drivers I've ever raced against," St. Amant said of the two-time Hooters Pro Cup Champion. "He knew my car took about 10 laps to get up the speed, so he pressured me hard. Clay would never intentionally take me out. We've raced side-by-side a lot, and it was going to be that way again, once my tire pressures came up."

St. Amant wouldn't get that chance. On Lap 175, Rogers uncharacteristically lost control of his car coming off Turn 4 and slammed the inside wall, handing the lead back to St. Amant.

"He just came off [Turn] 4 and lit the tires up," said St. Amant, who was able to miss Rogers' spinning car. "I think maybe his air pressures got away from him. I've seen Salem do that to a lot of good drivers."

Benny Gordon is one-such driver.

During a final charge to catch St. Amant, Gordon, a three-time Northern Division champion, Gordon, who restarted 11th after a late-race pit stop, caught second-place Matt Carter with a handful of laps remaining.

But during an attempt to pass Carter, Gordon lost control of his car and clobbered the water barrels at the end of pit road. He didn't make to the finish line and fell to 10th in the running order.

Salem Speedway is the only track that the Hooters Pro Cup Series has competed on more than once that Gordon has yet to visit victory lane. In four starts at Salem, Gordon, who has 25 wins in Pro Cup competition, is averaging a ninth-place finish. But he's hoping to change those stats in the Lucas Oil 200.

"I'm still looking forward to going to Salem," said Gordon, who currently leads the Northern Division standings. "We've won a pole there, and we've had fast cars. For whatever reason, we just haven't been able to win there. I think we can change that this year, though."

The Lucas Oil 200 presented by Touchtone Energy will start at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 28. Fans are encouraged to come out early and enjoy a full day of events. The Hooters Pro Cup Series will start Awesome Awnings Pole Qualifying at 4 p.m. and be immediately followed by a 45-lap Super Stock race.

At 5:45 p.m., fans will be allowed on the track for the Wraps INK Autograph Session. Pre-race ceremonies for the Lucas Oil 200 will begin at 6:30 p.m. For ticket information, contact Salem Speedway at 812-883-6504 or visit www.salemspeedway.com.

HOOTERS PRO CUP QUICK FACTS FOR THE SEARS AUTO CENTER NORTHERN DIVISION

WHAT: Lucas Oil 200 Presented by Touchtone Energy

WHERE:                  Salem Speedway

.555-mile, high-banked oval

WHEN: Saturday, June 14

DISTANCE: 200 laps/111 miles

POSTED AWARDS: $127,136

STARTING FIELD: 32-car starting field. Top 28 on time, four provisionals

TELEVISION: VERSUS NETWORK--Friday, July 11 at 11 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, June 28, 2008:
11:00 a.m. USAR HPCS Practice Begins
1:00 p.m. USAR HPCS Practice Ends
1:45-2:05 p.m. Super Stock Practice
2:10-2:30 p.m. Street Stock Practice
2:45 p.m. Super Stock Qualifying
To Follow Street Stock Qualifying
4:00 p.m. Awesome Awnings Qualifying for the USAR HPCS
4:45 p.m. Super Stock Race 45 Laps
5:45 p.m. Wraps Ink Autograph Session for the USAR HPCS
6:30 p.m. Pre-Race Ceremonies for the Lucas Oil 200
7:00 p.m. Lucas Oil 200 presented by Touchstone Energy
To Follow Street Stock Race-45 laps

HPCS Track Qualifying Record at Salem:
Matt Carter Date: 7/30/05 - Time: 17.414 seconds - Speed: 114.735 MHP

-credit: usar

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Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers