USAR: Motor Mile: Northern Division round five preview

Stretch Run Starts at Motor Mile Kmart 250 to separate "Contenders" from "Pretenders" Myrtle Beach, S.C.--With only 101 points separating the top six in the Sears Auto Center Northern Division standings, the Kmart 250 at Motor Mile (Va.) ...

Stretch Run Starts at Motor Mile

Kmart 250 to separate "Contenders" from "Pretenders"

Myrtle Beach, S.C.--With only 101 points separating the top six in the Sears Auto Center Northern Division standings, the Kmart 250 at Motor Mile (Va.) Speedway on July 12 will be a critical race in determining who will become the divisional champion.

With just four races remaining in the regular season, drivers no longer have the option of a mulligan and every position is worth fighting for.

"You don't want to point race, but you have to be smart to win these titles," said Benny Gordon, who has three Northern Division titles under his belt and currently leads the standings. "You want to win these races, but, if you don't have the car to do it, you need to come up with a strategy to get the best finish you can. Some guys can't do that, and that's why they don't win titles."

Gordon practiced what he preached at Salem Speedway, taking a 10th-place car and finishing third. But even with his podium finish, Gordon saw rookie Mikey Kile pull to within 35 points in the standings.

Kile, who trailed Gordon by 60 points going into Salem, now finds himself not only leading the Miller Lite rookie standings, but close enough to put some real pressure on Gordon down the stretch.

"Our goal was to win the rookie championship," said Kile, driver of the No. 65n VisViva Energy Drink Chevrolet. "But if we can win the Northern Division title, too, that would be a big bonus."

Indeed.

If Kile pulled off both, the bonus would bring the rookie driver an extra $30,000 at the end of the regular season. But a rookie has never won the Northern Division title, and there are plenty of veterans hoping to make sure it doesn't happen this season.

Gary St. Amant, Derek Kale, Brandon Ward and Jeff Agnew will likely make late-season runs at the title. St. Amant, who won the Northern Division title last season, is only 71 points behind Gordon at the halfway point; Kale lost some ground at Salem, but his team has to be considered championship-caliber; Agnew can beat anybody at anytime with a little luck; and Ward is showing signs of breaking out of his early-season slump and moving back to the top of the Pro Cup lot, where he was after last season's event at Motor Mile.

Ward, as a rookie, pulled out a veteran move to win the Kroger 250 a year ago.

After taking the white flag, Ward, who was leading, slowed his No. 93 SupplyOne Ford heading into Turn 1, allowing Jeff Agnew to swing to the high side. As Agnew pulled ahead going down the backstretch, Ward, with the preferred line, bounced off Agnew in Turn 4 and nipped the veteran at the line to take the Kroger 250 presented by Star Country 94.9. The win jumped Ward to second in the standings and made him a legitimate contender.

But even drivers like Jay Fogleman, who is 146 points behind Gordon, and Allen Purkhiser, who is 126 points out of lead, can climb back into contention with a win or two. All they need to do is look at their Southern brethren.

Mark McFarland went from 21st to first in points in a three-race streak that included two wins and a fourth-place finish.

A sense of urgency will be evident when the field takes the green for the Kmart 250, and a clearer picture of who will reign supreme in the Northern Division will come at its conclusion.

Fans are encouraged to come out early for a day full of racing action. Front gates will open at 2 p.m. The Motor Mile Late Model stock division will qualify at 3 p.m. and be followed by Hooters Pro Cup Awesome Awnings Pole Qualifying at 4 p.m. The Wraps INK Autograph Session will take place at 5:45 p.m. Pre-race ceremonies start at 6:30 p.m. and the green flag will wave at 7 p.m.

Following the Kmart 250, the Late Model Stock division will compete in a 150-lap feature.

For more information, visit www.motormilespeedway.com or call (540) 639-1700.

HOOTERS PRO CUP QUICK FACTS FOR THE SEARS AUTO CENTER NORTHERN DIVISION

WHAT: Kmart 250

WHERE:                  Motor Mile Speedway

.416-mile, high-banked oval

WHEN: Saturday, July 12

DISTANCE: 250 laps/104 miles

POSTED AWARDS: $127,136

STARTING FIELD: 32-car starting field. Top 28 on time, four provisionals

TELEVISION: VERSUS NETWORK--Friday, July 18 at 11 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)

WEEKEND SCHEDULE:

Saturday, July 12, 2008:
11:00 a.m. USAR HPCS Practice Begins
1:00 p.m. USAR HPCS Practice Ends
1:15 p.m. USAR HPCS Drivers Meeting (Engines Off)
1:45 p.m. Late Model Practice Begins
2:00 p.m. Front Gates Open
2:30 p.m. Late Model Practice Ends
3:00 p.m. Late Model Qualifying
4:00 p.m. Awesome Awnings Qualifying for the USAR HPCS
4:45 p.m. Late Model Last Chance Race
5:45 p.m. Wraps Ink Autograph Session for the USAR HPCS
6:30 p.m. Pre-Race Ceremonies for the Kmart 250
7:00 p.m. Start of Kmart 250
To Follow Late Model 150-lap race

HPCS Track Qualifying Record at Salem:
Driver: Mark McFarland Date: 7/14/07 - Time: 15.866 sec/94.391 mph

-credit: usar

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Mark McFarland , Mikey Kile , Jeff Agnew