USAR: South Boston: Northern Division round one preview

St. Amant Ready For South Boston, Title Defense Miller Lite 250 Kicks off Sears Auto Center Northern Division Myrtle Beach, S.C.--When Gary St. Amant joined the Hooters Pro Cup Series in 2004, he picked up where he'd left off in the old ASA ...

St. Amant Ready For South Boston, Title Defense
Miller Lite 250 Kicks off Sears Auto Center Northern Division

Myrtle Beach, S.C.--When Gary St. Amant joined the Hooters Pro Cup Series in 2004, he picked up where he'd left off in the old ASA National Tour. He won a race and posted 10 top-five finishes in his first season of Pro Cup competition while driving for Bullet Racing.

But, while he was a frontrunner, St. Amant was never looked at as the guy to beat each week. That changed last season.

St. Amant came out strong and never slumped en route to the Sears Auto Center Northern Division Championship with his Tatman Motorsports team.

"That was huge," said St. Amant, driver of the No. 7n JEGS.com/SPEEDCO Chevrolet, "I have to say it was the team; we kept getting better and better."

St. Amant's average finish during the regular season may have been the best ever. The 2-time ASA champ finished outside the top 10 only once and averaged a 4.3 finish.

"People didn't look at us as a contender until we did that," said St. Amant. "We're coming back with basically the same team this year. We have to be ready for the first race, and everything will be fine."

St. Amant's title defense starts with the Miller Lite 250 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway on Saturday, April 19. The event will be the first time that most Sears Auto Center Northern Division competitors have been on the track this season, well, except for St. Amant's top rival, Benny Gordon.

Gordon, a three-time Northern Division champ, went moonlighting to start the year and picked up an out-of-division win in the Greased Lightning Southern Division opener at USA Int'l (Fla.) Speedway. Gordon was using the event as a tune-up for the Championship Series event later in the season at USA Int'l, but it may have been a foreshadowing of things to come for Gordon.

"We came [to USA Int'l] because we needed to get better," said Gordon, driver of the No. 66n Samuel Metals Ford. "We accomplished that, but we also wanted to make sure we were ready for South Boston. Our team is going to be good this year. I always hate it when Southern guys come up North and win, so it was nice to go to Lakeland and take one from them. But I may have opened a can of worms because I know a lot of Southern Division guys will be at South Boston trying to get even."

Interdivisional rivalries have always been fun to watch during the Championship Series, but South Boston Speedway's location and history usually bring out some of the Southern Division heavy hitters. And that will again be the case this year. Bobby Gill, Kirk Leone, Drew Herring and Frank Deiny are all making the trip to SoBo for the opener.

Throw in Jeff Agnew, Brandon Ward, Gordon, St. Amant and a host of formidable foes and you've got a recipe for a great race with plenty of tight-quarters racing.

The Miller Lite 250 is scheduled for a green flag at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 19 at South Boston Speedway. Front gates will open at 3 p.m. with Awesome Awnings Pole Qualifying starting at 4 p.m. The Allison Legacy Series will compete in a 50-lap feature at 4:45 p.m. Following the Legacy race, fans will be allowed on the frontstretch for the Wraps INK Autograph Session at 5:45 p.m. Pre-race ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m.

For ticket information, contact South Boston Speedway at (434) 572-4947.

SEARS AUTO CETNER NORTHERN DIVISION QUICK FACTS

WHAT: Miller Lite 250

WHERE:                  South Boston Speedway, South Boston, VA

.4-mile, semi-banked asphalt oval

WHEN: Saturday, April 19

DISTANCE: 250 Laps/ 100 Miles

POSTED AWARDS: $127,136

STARTING FIELD: 32 car starting field - 34 cars possible - Fastest 28 cars through time trials -- two provisional position from 2006 Northern Division top- 30 Driver Points Standings and two provisional position from 2006 Northern Division top-30 Owner points Standing. Provisional for past Champion and past Rookie of the Year (only if necessary)

TELEVISION: VERSUS NETWORK Monday, April 28 (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:

Friday, April 18, 2008:
5:30 p.m. USAR HPCS practice opens !7:00 p.m. USAR HPCS Practice ends

Saturday April 19, 2008:
11:00 a.m. USAR HPCS Practice Begins
1:00 p.m. USAR HPCS Practice Ends
3:00 p.m. Front Gate opens
2:00- 2:30 p.m. Allison Legacy Practice
3:00 p.m. Allison Legacy Qualifying
4:00 p.m. Awesome Awnings Pole Qualifying for the USAR HPCS
4:45 p.m. Allison Legacy Series Race--50 laps
5:45 p.m. Wraps Ink on track Autograph Session for the USAR HPCS
6:30 p.m. Pre-Race Ceremonies for the Miller Lite 250
7:00 p.m. Miller Lite 250

-credit: usar

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Series Stock car
Drivers Drew Herring , Jeff Agnew