USAR: Southern: Southern Division round six preview

First Time Feeling Ritch atop standings for first time Myrtle Beach, S.C.--To say that Michael Ritch's climb to the top of the Aaron's Southern Division standings has been a long haul would be a vast understatement. It's taken many nights of...

First Time Feeling
Ritch atop standings for first time

Myrtle Beach, S.C.--To say that Michael Ritch's climb to the top of the Aaron's Southern Division standings has been a long haul would be a vast understatement.

It's taken many nights of thrashing on cars, long nights on the road, tons of help along the way and nearly a decade for it to happen.

"I can't believe it. It's taken us seven years to finally lead the points in the Hooters Pro Cup Series," said Ritch, driver of the No. 28 Naturally Fresh/Jackaroo Ford. "It hasn't been from lack of trying. It's taken us a long time to finally gather data that people can go out and buy in a couple of years. We're finally learning what we need and how we need to do it. And we're here."

Now that Ritch is finally out front, his first step to staying there comes in the Naturally Fresh 250 at Southern National Raceway Park on Saturday, July 21. And you'll only need to see the qualifying rundown to tell how Ritch will fare.

"Most times we qualify up front we've got a really good race car," said Ritch. "That's how it's been my whole career. We qualified on the pole at Concord and had a great car, and we started second at Myrtle Beach and won the race."

Though Ritch has run well at Southern National, picking up three top-5s in five starts, he's never been able to roll into Victory Lane at the ultra-fast track in Kenly, N.C. But last year, he came close.

After taking over the lead on lap 93, Ritch was snookered when the rest of the field ducked to pit road. After cycling through the pits, Ritch restarted 26th with 100 laps to go and could only rumble back to fourth.

Bobby Gill, driver of the No. 06 USG Sheetrock Brand Ford, picked up the win last season, followed by Clay Rogers, Shane Huffman and Ritch.

"We definitely screwed up on pit strategy," said Ritch. "I thought they were going to stay out with us a little bit longer."

Ritch can't afford a screw up this time around if he wants to take the Southern Division title and the $25,000 bonus that goes with it. There are only 88 points between Ritch and second-place Chase Pistone. And from second to 16th is only separated by 97 points. One slip by Ritch and he could lose what's taken him so long to get.

The Naturally Fresh 250 at Southern National Raceway Park is scheduled for a green flag at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 21. Front gates will open to the public at 2:30 p.m. BFGoodrich Tires Pole Qualifying will start at 4 p.m. and be followed by an Allison Legacy Series event.

The Wraps INK Autograph Session will start 5:45 p.m. After the on-track autograph session, pre-race ceremonies will begin at 6:30 p.m.

For ticket information, contact SNRP at (919) 284.1114 or visit www.southernnational.net.

***

2007 USAR HOOTERS PRO CUP SERIES QUICK FACTS FOR THE AARON'S SOUTHERN DIVISION

WHAT: Naturally Fresh 250

WHERE:                  Southern National Raceway Park, Kenly, NC

.4-mile, semi-banked asphalt oval

WHEN: Saturday July 21, 2007

DISTANCE: 250 Laps/ 100Miles

POSTED AWARDS: $122,670 (Includes $37,000 Point Fund)

STARTING FIELD: 32 car starting field - 34 cars possible - Fastest 28 cars through time trials -- two provisional positions from 2007 Southern Division top- 30 Driver Points Standings and two provisional positions from 2007 Southern Division top-30 Owner points Standing. One provisional for past Champion and past "Rookie of the Year" (if necessary)

TELEVISION:             SPEED Channel   Wednesday August 1, 2007 (4 p.m. ET)

Friday, August 3, 2007 (12 Noon ET)

WEEKEND SCHEDULE:

Saturday July 21, 2007:
11:00 a.m. USAR HPCS Practice Begin
1:00 p.m. USAR HPCS Practice Ends
2:00- 2:30pm Allison Legacy Series Practice
2:30 pm Front Gate Opens
3:00 pm Allison Legacy Series Qualifying
4:00 pm Naturally Fresh 250 Qualifying for the USAR HPCS
4:45 pm Allison Legacy Series Race -- 50 laps
5:45 pm Wraps Ink on track Autograph Session for the USAR HPCS
6:30 p.m. Pre-Race Ceremonies for the Naturally Fresh 250
7:00 p.m. Naturally Fresh 250

-credit: usar

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , Shane Huffman