McFarland Rides 'Good Luck' To USAR Hooters Pro Cup Runner-Up
After a recent string of bad luck had slowed Mark McFarland in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Championship Series, the driver of the No. 81 Knight's Companies/Greased Lightning Chevy was relieved his luck finally turned around in Saturday's Dan Duncan Memorial 250 at South Georgia Motorsports Park.
"We had some good luck for a change," said McFarland. "It especially feels good considering all the trouble we had. The fact that we were able to finish second was really something. We were really happy with that."
McFarland's runner-up effort looked like it would be nothing less than a winning performance early in the weekend as the Winchester, VA driver dominated the practice and qualifying sessions setting fast time with a lap of 18.245 seconds on the SGMP half-mile oval.
"We were real close to being where we needed to be right from the time we unloaded," said McFarland. "We were real fast in practice, the fastest in all four sessions, and we qualified on the pole. We definitely had a fast car."
McFarland wasted little time positioning himself at the front of the field from the drop of the green flag.
"We led right away until the first pit stop, which came really early in the race," said McFarland. "We got our tires as soon as we could because they really don't fall off there. The guys did a great stop and we came back out for the restart in first. Then all heck kind of broke loose on the restart."
Contact on the restart with Frank Deiny, Jr. sent McFarland, Richard Boswell, A.J. Frank, Derek Kale and Michael Kidd spinning. Now in the pits for repairs, McFarland's hopes for a good finish seemed to be over before they hardly got started.
"I'm not sure what happened," said McFarland. "I think Frank might have been a overanxious on the restart and spun us out. We came in and made some repairs, but then we had to go all the way to the rear of the field. Things weren't looking too good at that point."
McFarland's problems were just beginning as he also had a battery go dead during the course of the race. That forced his Pete Knight Racing Chevy to pit road yet another time for repairs and when the smoke finally cleared, McFarland was 18th and apparently out of the running for the victory.
"We pretty much drove from the back to the front in the last 150 laps," said McFarland. "We somehow got all that stuff fixed up, put the first set of tires back on the car, and were sitting second on the final restart."
Now in the runner-up spot behind leader Matt Hawkins, McFarland had his sights set on his third USAR Hooters Pro Cup victory of the season, but his Chevy Monte Carlo racer had just a few too many bumps and bruises to make a race of it over the final laps.
"I really thought we had a shot at winning," said McFarland. "During the final caution, the engine was overheating and we couldn't run any of the brake fans or coolers. When we took the green, not being able to run the brake fans allowed the tires to get hot during the caution and it just blew them up. The car was really tight the last run, and really, Matt had a better car at the finish."
Despite not making the hard left turn into Victory Lane, McFarland was more than satisfied with his team's performance and finish.
"You always want to win, but with the luck we have been having lately, it felt good to finish second."
[Door%20number.jpg] McFarland will have one more shot at a USAR Hooters Pro Cup win when the series runs the fifth and final race of the 2007 Championship Series on Saturday, November 3, at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, FL.
"We're going to pretty much do the same schedule at Lakeland that we did here at South Georgia," McFarland stated. "We saved our tests, so we do that on Thursday, then work on the car on Friday, and come back ready to race Saturday. We'll be ready to go. Lakeland has always been a pretty good track for me. I've finished second there a couple of times, but I've never won there. That would be a great way to end the season. I'm looking forward to it."
McFarland and his Pete Knight Racing team will take the green flag at Lakeland on Saturday, November 3 at 7 p.m. Eatern Time.