USAR: Milwaukee: Mark McFarland race report

Pete Knight Racing Driver Steers No. 81s Sears Auto Center Chevy To Victory In Sponsor's Event Mooresville, NC (June 2, 2008) -- It was hard to curb Mark McFarland's enthusiasm after winning the Sears Auto Center 150 USAR Hooters Pro Cup event...

Pete Knight Racing Driver Steers No. 81s Sears Auto Center Chevy To Victory In Sponsor's Event

Mooresville, NC (June 2, 2008) -- It was hard to curb Mark McFarland's enthusiasm after winning the Sears Auto Center 150 USAR Hooters Pro Cup event at the Milwaukee Mile Saturday afternoon

"It was awesome," said McFarland, driver of the No. 81s Sears Auto Center/Knight's Companies Chevrolet Monte Carlo. "You couldn't ask for anything better. We had a ton of Sears people there. I think they gave away 5,000 tickets to company associates and partners. We had key people from Sears Auto Center go to Victory Lane and everyone got to celebrate. It was an excellent end to a great week for everyone associated with our team."

McFarland and his Sears Auto Center Chevy got a head start on the racing weekend stopping by Chicago and Sears Roebuck/Sears Tire Center corporate headquarters earlier in the week.

"We had a good day Wednesday atSears corporate headquarters," said McFarland. "We had a really nice display set up in an atrium in a huge building. We took a tour, did some autographs, had lunch with some key Sears people, and gave away about 800 t-shirts. Everyone had a good time."

The good times kept on rolling for McFarland once he got to Milwaukee as his Monte Carlo was among the leaders in practice leading up to the 150-lap event USAR North-South Division combination race. McFarland paced most of Friday's the practice only to [Sears%20Auto%20Center.gif] have his lap of 31.161 seconds at 119.359 mph bumped from the top of the board near the end of the day.

"We we're pretty close from the time we unloaded," said McFarland. "We fought the rain a little bit in Thursday's practice, but on Friday, the car was good. We just made little changes and ended up fourth in the final practice Friday. We really weren't worried about it because the car felt so good. Meanwhile, people could run fast for a couple of laps, but then they couldn't do it for the next 20. We knew we could do it all the time."

McFarland qualified fifth and started 10th in the 40-car USAR North-South alternating lineup. He quickly moved to the lead on Lap 63 -- a run that included a stop for fuel on the 41st circuit. The Winchester, VA native then held the top spot until Lap 84 when he pitted after the caution flag waved for a Mike Hampton crash in Turn 2.

According to McFarland, strategy and adjustments to his car by crew chief Wes Ward and his Pete Knight Racing team swung the event in his favor.

"We had a little bit different pit strategy than most people," said McFarland, " noting Ward had won a NASCAR Busch (now Nationwide) Series race at Milwaukee with Dale Jarrett in 1995."We pitted for fuel around Lap 40 because we thought the race was going to have a lot of green-flag runs and we didn't think there would be that many cautions. That's why we came in and topped off.

"Later, when we came back for our second pit stop, we were able to take less fuel, four tires, and still beat a lot of people back off pit road. We came out about 11th behind some people who only took fuel and some who only took two tires. After that, we drove right to the front."

With his Sears Auto Center Chevy spot on, McFarland headed to the front taking the lead for the final time on Lap 111. At the finish, it was McFarland on cruise control, 1.12 seconds ahead of runner-up Drew Herring. Cale Gale, Caleb Holman and Brad Rogers completed the Top 5 in the first of two USAR Hooters Pro Cup combination races to be held during the 2008 regular season.

"Once I got in front, I raced out to about a 30-car length lead and just cruised," said McFarland of the final 35 laps. "We saved a little something in case we had a late-race restart. Wes changed the car on the final pit stop to just tighten it up a little bit. After that, everything was all good. Herring was pretty quick there for 10 to 15 laps, but over the last 30, our car just kept going. It was awesome."

In the end, there isn't much better than winning your sponsor's race in your sponsor's car. Then again, any finish at Milwaukee this time around would have been better than McFarland's last experience at the famed 1903 vintage race track.

"The last time I was at Milwaukee, I finished the race in the infield care center," said McFarland. "I thought I was going to have a Top-5 finish that day, but I wound up with a dislocated shoulder. To come back this time and win -- especially at a place with so much history like Milwaukee and with all the Sears Auto Center people here -- just couldn't be sweeter."

-credit: pkr

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Series Stock car
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Caleb Holman , Mark McFarland , Cale Gale