It's Bristol, Baby Southern championships to be decided on grandiose stage; Northern drivers ready to rumble in the valley Myrtle Beach, S.C.--Few words get a race fans heart pumping more than 'Bristol Motor Speedway.' Now imagine what it feels...
It's Bristol, Baby
Southern championships to be decided on grandiose stage; Northern drivers ready to rumble in the valley
Myrtle Beach, S.C.--Few words get a race fans heart pumping more than 'Bristol Motor Speedway.' Now imagine what it feels like to be a driver trying to tackle the concrete behemoth and win a title at the same time. In the running of the Aaron's 150 on Wed., August 20, Mark McFarland and Hunter Robbins will have that task.
McFarland, driver of the No. 81s Sears Auto Center Chevrolet, holds a slim, 44-point margin in the Greased Lightning Southern Division standings over Michael Ritch. And he knows one slip could cost him dearly. So how does plan on handling the pressure?
"We're going there to win the race," said McFarland. "We're not going to put a lot of extra pressure on ourselves because we're racing for a championship. We're just going to do what we always do which is try to win the race. If we do that, the point's deal will take care of itself."
In reality, McFarland just needs to finish third, regardless of what Ritch does, to claim his first Greased Lightning Southern Division title. McFarland has three wins and two second-place finishes this season, so Ritch may be fighting an uphill battle to defend his Southern Division title.
"It's going to be tough to catch him," said Ritch, driver of the No. 28s Support Our Troops Ford. "I like to think I can win any race, but I'm not sure I can win at Bristol. I'm pretty sure we can finish in the top five, but I think Mark can too. Who knows though, anything can happen at Bristol."
And it usually does, especially if you qualify poorly. In the four previous races at BMS, the winner has qualified inside the top seven.
Benny Gordon, the defending winner of the event, started seventh last year. Gordon won the event by leading the final 66 laps and comes into Bristol ready to defend his title, having already clinched the Sears Auto Center Northern Division points championship.
"It definitely takes a little pressure off," said Gordon, driver of the No. 66n Samuel Metals Ford. "I won the last race at South Boston (Va.) and clinched the crown. We can just come and enjoy ourselves. We can race for the win and not worry about racing for points."
While Gordon doesn't have to worry about points, he's still feeling the pressure to repeat on the high banks.
"This is an important race for us, because we'll have a lot of people from Samuel Metals coming," said Gordon, driver of the No. 66n Samuel Metals Ford. "We're planning on putting on a good show for them. I love the track, and I've always been fast at Bristol."
Gordon, who has won three races in a row, is on everyone's short list of favorites coming into the Aaron's 150. But his unofficial teammate, Hunter Robbins, shouldn't be overlooked.
Robbins dominated the Southern Division event at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway on August 2. Robbins, driver of the No. 6s Goodson Consulting Ford, became just the fourth driver in Hooters Pro Cup history to win before their 17th birthday, joining Brian Vickers, Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne. The win also propelled Robbins into the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year standings by 26 points over Drew Herring. But this battle may come down to the final lap. If Herring wins at BMS, Robbins would have to finish second to take home the $10,000 check for top rookie in the Southern Division.
But winning will be no easy task in this field. For just the second time in Hooters Pro Cup history, the Aaron's 150 will be a combination event, pitting the top drivers from both divisions against each other on the greatest short track them all. Over 50 drivers will descend on the .533-mile track, hoping to be the one that screams, "I just won at Bristol, baby!"
Fans are encouraged to come out early for a full day of festivities. The O'Reilly 200 which is part of the Wednesday, Aug. 20 doubleheader at BMS with the Aaron's 150 Hooters Pro Cup event will kickoff the weekend of racing that will conclude with Saturday night's sold-out Sharpie 500. Qualifying for the O'Reilly 200 takes place at 4:15 p.m. while Awesome Awnings Pole qualifying for the Aaron's 150 will begin at 2:30 p.m.
Pre-race ceremonies will begin for the Aaron's 150 at 5:10 p.m. The green flag will be in the air at 5:40 p.m., kicking off a great night of racing action.
Tickets are available at www.bristoltix.com or at the BMS ticket office (423-989-6900). Tickets for both events are only $30 for adults. Children 12 and under will be admitted free with a ticketed adult.
HOOTERS PRO CUP QUICK FACTS
WHAT: Aaron's 150
WHERE: Bristol Motor Speedway
.533-mile, high-banked oval
WHEN: Wed., August 20 at 5:40 PM
DISTANCE: 150 laps/79.95 miles
POSTED AWARDS: $150,000
STARTING FIELD: 40-car starting field.
TELEVISION: VERSUS NETWORK--Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 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)
Wednesday, August 20:
8:15 a.m. USAR HPCS Practice Begins
9:35 a.m. USAR Practice Ends
11:00 a.m. USAR Final Practice Begins
11:50 a.m. USAR Final Practice Ends
2:30 p.m. Deadline to be through Tech and ready to scuff tires
To Follow: Awesome Awnings Pole Qualifying
5:00 p.m. Deadline to have cars on grid
5:10 p.m. USAR Pre-race Ceremonies
5:30 p.m. Command to Start Engines
5:40 p.m. Start of Aaron's 150
To follow: NCTS O'Reilly 200