Championship Series Pulls into Mansfield Round 3: Sears Auto Center 250 Myrtle Beach, S.C.-Through two rounds of the Hooters Pro Cup Series Championship Series, there has been more plot twists than a Hitchcock movie. Woody Howard broke...
Championship Series Pulls into Mansfield
Round 3: Sears Auto Center 250
Myrtle Beach, S.C.-Through two rounds of the Hooters Pro Cup Series Championship Series, there has been more plot twists than a Hitchcock movie.
Woody Howard broke out with his first win of the season at Iowa Speedway to open the six-race shootout and jumped to second in the points. In Round 2 at Jennerstown Speedway, Clay Rogers picked up his fifth win of the season and pulled out to an 81-point lead in the Championship Series standings. But behind the winners in each race, legitimate contenders have seen their plans swing significantly.
Shane Wallace was less than a mile from winning his first Pro Cup race at Iowa when he lost a tire and dropped from contention. Bobby Gill suffered a similar fate at Iowa. At Jennerstown, five of the top-10 runners were all collected in an incident on Lap 22.
"I don't think I've seen anything like it," said Benny Gordon, the defending Hooters Pro Cup Series Champion. "It just shows you that anything can happen [in the Championship Series]."
Gordon is hoping that what happens in the Alan Kulwicki Memorial Sears Auto Center 250 at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Speedway on Saturday, October 14, is a favorable plot twist for him.
After leading a race-high 108 laps at Jennerstown, Gordon tangled with Trevor Bayne and crashed hard into the Turn 1 wall, dropping him to 32nd at the finish. While he's dropped to fourth in points, 103 behind Rogers, Gordon knows four races can be an eternity.
"We still have a lot of racing to go," said Gordon, driver of the No. 66n Predator Performance Ford. "I'm not really worried about the points right now. If there were two races left, it'd be different. We've just go to go out and try to win races. And if something happens to Clay, we're right back in the hunt."
Actually, if Rogers has problems, anyone in the top 20 would likely join the championship battle.
Howard, who sits second in points, is only 98 points ahead of Wayne Willard in 20th.
And the battle within the battle, the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year title, is far from settled.
After squeaking into the Championship Series, Justin Hobgood, driver of the No. 16 Naturally Fresh Ford, has taken the lead in the rookie point battle by 11 markers over Derek Kale, the Northern Division ROTY, by posting two top-10 finishes.
The Southern Division ROTY, Trevor Bayne, has had problems in both of the opening events and has fallen to third in the ROTY standings, 41 points behind Hobgood.
Jim Crabtree Jr., Brett Butler, Dange Hanniford and Jeff Fultz are all within striking distance as well for the $40,000 payday. Fultz sits seventh in the ROTY standings, but he's only 98 points behind Hobgood.
The Alan Kulwicki Memorial Sears Auto Center 250 is scheduled for a 6 p.m. green flag. The front gates will open at 2 p.m. for the general public. Advance Auto Parts Pole Qualifying will start at 3:30 p.m. and the on-track autograph session is slated to start at 4:45 p.m.
WHAT: Alan Kulwicki Memorial Sears Auto Center 250
Race No. 3 of the USAR HPCS Championship Series
WHERE: Mansfield Motorsports Speedway- Mansfield, OH
.5-mile, semi-banked asphalt oval
WHEN: Saturday October 14, 2006 - 6 P.M. (EST)
DISTANCE: 250 Laps/ 125 Miles
POSTED AWARDS: $139,599 (Includes $36,433 Point Fund)
STARTING FIELD: 36 car starting field - 38 cars possible - Fastest 36 cars through time trials - One provisional position from 2006 Northern Division top- 15 Driver Points Standings and One provisional position from 2006 Southern Division top-15 Driver Points Standing (only if necessary).
TELEVISION: SPEED Channel, Wednesday, October 18, 2006 (4 p.m. ET)
SPEED Channel, Friday, October 20, 2006 (12 Noon ET)
Saturday, October 14, 2006:
10:30 a.m. USAR HPCS Practice Begins
12:30 p.m. USAR HPCS Practice Ends
2:00 pm Front Gate Opens
3:30 p.m. Alan Kulwicki Memorial Sears Auto Center 250 HPCS Qualifying
4:45 p.m. USAR HPCS Driver Autograph Session
5:30 p.m. Pre-Race Ceremonies
6:00 p.m. Alan Kulwicki Memorial Sears Auto Center 250