Mechanical Failure Stops McFarland Just Short Of USAR Pro Cup Win Mark McFarland and his No. 81 Knights Companies/Greased Lightning Chevrolet Monte Carlo were the class of the field Saturday night in the Kroger 250 USAR Hooters Pro Cup stock car...
Mechanical Failure Stops McFarland Just Short Of USAR Pro Cup Win
Mark McFarland and his No. 81 Knights Companies/Greased Lightning Chevrolet Monte Carlo were the class of the field Saturday night in the Kroger 250 USAR Hooters Pro Cup stock car event at Motor Mile Speedway. Unfortunately, the fastest car doesn't always win the race.
McFarland sat on the pole, led 47 laps and was on the point and in sight of the checkered flag when mechanical failure hit his Chevy just a handful of laps from the finish. The untimely problem left McFarland in the garage at the checkered flag with a 15th-place effort as Brandon Ward went on to take the victory in the USAR Northern Division event.
"It was a heartbreaker for us," said McFarland of the end result. "That was especially true for me being in my home state with a lot of friends and family at the race cheering us on. We came close to winning for them, but we just had some terrible luck."
The evening got off to a great start when McFarland blazed to a new track record in qualifying touring the .416-mile Radford, VA oval in 15.866 seconds (94.391 miles per hour). The effort was McFarland's first pole of the 2007 USAR Pro Cup season and earned him a cool $1,000 bonus from B.F. Goodrich Tire Co.
"I would have never thought we were going to get the pole because we really weren't that good in practice," said McFarland. "It didn't seem like anything we'd change would effect the car. We put our heads together before qualifying and the changes we came up with really hooked the car up. We wound up having an extremely good car and getting the pole."
McFarland and fellow front row starter Eric Corbett led the field to the green flag with Corbett getting the jump for the top spot. McFarland and his No. 81 Chevy were content to cruise in the runner-up spot eventually taking over the lead on the 39th circuit. The Winchester, VA native then held the point until Lap 66 when he pitted on consecutive laps -- once for tires and once for gas.
"The guys on our Knights Companies/Greased Lightning Chevy really had a good stop getting us out first of the teams that pitted with us," said McFarland. "We had the right strategy because everyone who was in front of us still had to pit. It really looked like we would be on a lap by ourselves at the finish."
Now running in the middle of the field behind the cars that didn't come in for service after the pit stop, McFarland methodically picked his way through the field retaking the lead from Benny Gordon on Lap 234. With his third USAR Hooters Pro Cup Northern Division win of the season in sight, McFarland [Right%20Side%20350.jpg] coasted to the pits when the rear end gear failed in his Pete Knight Racing mount with just eight laps remaining. While still credited with 15th in the final running order, the missing out on a sure win so close to the finish was a big disappointment for McFarland.
"I can't believe we spun the rear end gear out of it," said McFarland. "That's something that normally doesn't happen. It was a freak thing that it happened."
Despite missing out on a near win, McFarland was still positive about the superior effort turned in by his Pete Knight Racing team.
"We had them covered," said the 29-year-old driver. "The guys gave me a great car and great pit stops. We did everything right. We just had some bad luck."
McFarland and his No. 81 Knights Companies/Greased Lightning Chevy will return to USAR Hooters Pro Cup Southern Division action this weekend when he competes in the Naturally Fresh 250 at Southern National Speedway in Kenly, NC. McFarland, who scored his first-ever USAR Pro Cup career victory at the track in 2005, will take the green flag in the Saturday, July 21 event at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.
Highlights of Saturday's Kroger 250 at Motor Mile Speedway will be telecast on The SPEED Channel on Wednesday, July 18 at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.