USAR: Rockingham CS: Mark McFarland race report

McFarland, Sears Auto Center Chevy See Accident Cut Short Top Run At Rockingham Pete Knight Racing Driver Finishes 14th In Race, Second In 2008 USAR Hooters Pro Cup Championship Mooresville, NC (November 4, 2008) -- Mark McFarland was hoping...

McFarland, Sears Auto Center Chevy See Accident Cut Short Top Run At Rockingham

Pete Knight Racing Driver Finishes 14th In Race, Second In 2008 USAR Hooters Pro Cup Championship

Mooresville, NC (November 4, 2008) -- Mark McFarland was hoping to be sipping champagne as the winner of the 2008 USAR Hooters Pro Cup season championship [Mcfl%20Head%201300.jpg] Saturday at Rockingham Speedway. Instead, the driver of the No. 81s Sears Auto Center Chevy left with a battered race car and a runner-up finish in the points.

"We worked hard all year long," said McFarland after finishing 14th in the American 200. "We wrecked a couple of cars this season and built a whole new one in less than two weeks. The guys never gave up. We worked hard. We didn't lose the championship because anybody outworked us."

McFarland entered the American 200 second in the championship points -- just 27 makers behind front runner Benny Gordon. Despite feeling under the weather, McFarland served notice early that he was going to race Gordon for the title as his Sears Auto Center Chevrolet was third on the speed charts in practice lapping the 1.017-mile Rockingham oval in 24.298 seconds (148.160 mph).

"I think I had the flu or something," said McFarland. "I was able to practice and qualify on Friday, and I got feeling a lot better on Saturday. It wasn't a worry going into the race."

McFarland shoved off sixth in the 35-car field Saturday and stayed in top five throughout the early portion of the 200-lap event. The Winchester, VA driver powered into the lead on [81%2066%201300.jpg] Lap 71 and held it until the 99th circuit when Gordon got by. The pass proved to be a big one as Gordon (No. 66 at right with McFarland) collected 10 bonus points for leading at the halfway point of the race.

"Our car was decent, but it wasn't what it should have been," said Pete Knight Racing crew chief Wes Ward. "I think Benny was just shadowing us doing what he needed to do all day. At times I think we might have been better than he was, but overall, we didn't hit on exactly what we wanted to."

"We were real tight the whole time," said McFarland. "We tried a bunch of things to free the car up, but we never got it driving the way we needed to. We were still pretty good until we got in the wreck. That ended everything."

The 'wreck' McFarland referred to came just 27 laps from the finish. Running fourth just after a restart, McFarland was directly behind Matt Merrell and Derrick Kelley when they made contact off Turn 2. Merrell's car rode the wall and slid driver's side down almost the entire back strait ending up on its roof. Kelley, meanwhile pinballed back into the right-front of McFarland's mount inflicting significant damage to its suspension.

"Those two flipped out going down the back and he (Kelley) came down off the wall and got us," said McFarland. "That bent the lower A-frame and while we came in several times to work on it, we could never fix it. We just rode it out after that and finished 14th. I don't think we would have won the championship, but we would have had a top-five finish in the race for sure."

McFarland and his No. 81s Sears Auto Center/Knight's Racing Chevy soldiered on the checkered flag while Gordon rolled home fifth giving him an 812-747 margin in the final championship standings.

"Overall, it was a really, really good year," Ward stated. "We had a lot of fun, raced hard [PKR%20Logo%20320.jpg] and won some races. Pete Knight put a lot into this financially and backing from Sears Auto Center really helped us a lot too. I wish we could have won the championship, but in the end, that's what is was."

"I can't thank Sears Auto Center enough for being on board with us this season," said McFarland. "They were a great group of people to work with. We couldn't have contended for the championship without them. They gave us a lot of support and I'm looking forward with them again in the future whatever series we're racing in."

-credit: pkr

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Mark McFarland , Matt Merrell