USAR: Southern CS: Championship round three preview

Championship Battle Swings South McFarland hoping to sweep Southern National, pull even with Gordon Myrtle Beach, S.C.--The bad news for Mark McFarland: He trails Benny Gordon by 45 points in the race for the overall Hooters Pro Cup title with...

Championship Battle Swings South
McFarland hoping to sweep Southern National, pull even with Gordon

Myrtle Beach, S.C.--The bad news for Mark McFarland: He trails Benny Gordon by 45 points in the race for the overall Hooters Pro Cup title with just two races remaining. The good news: He's got two races to catch him--and home-field advantage is in his favor.

Coming into the Dan Duncan Memorial Aaron's 250 presented by Black's Tire & Auto Service at Southern National (N.C.) Raceway Park, McFarland has two wins in three starts at the ultra-fast, .4-mile track, including a win earlier this year.

"[Having Southern National on the schedule] is good for us," said McFarland, who has averaged a 1.3 finish at SNRP in three starts. "But it's still going to be tough. Benny has been on his game. They've got a great team, and they're tough to beat every week. They'll at least run top-five, so that means we've got win the race."

If McFarland wins and Gordon finishes fifth, McFarland would pull within 10 points going into the season-finale Black's Tire American 200 at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway. But McFarland hopes to do more than that.

"I'd really like to be tied going into Rockingham," said McFarland, driver of the No. 81s Sears Auto Center Chevrolet. "We're going to test [Southern National] on Thursday and test [at the open test] on Friday. We've got to be perfect."

McFarland's car wasn't perfect at the start of the July event at SNRP, but his team made sure it was at the end.

"We started off the race real, real loose," said McFarland, who started third in the Crane Cams 250. "We tightened it up when we came in to get fuel, then we tightened it up when we came in for tires and track tightened up at the end, so it about made our car perfect at the end of the race."

With a perfect car, McFarland took the lead on Lap 178 and held off Michael Ritch en route to his sixth Hooters Pro Cup win. McFarland will need a similar effort to reel in Gordon for the $150,000 payday that the 2008 Hooters Pro Cup Champion will take home.

While there's a little gap in the overall title battle, the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year battle is anyone's game. Hunter Robbins holds a five-point lead over Drew Herring with two races remaining. Herring, who finished second in the Southern Division rookie standings, has trimmed 26 points off Robbins' point lead over the last two races with back-to-back, top-10 finishes.

"We had a pretty good regular season, but we had some bad luck, too," said Herring, driver of the No. 22s BTS Tire & Wheel Distributor Ford. "Hopefully we've got the bad luck behind us."

Herring, a former SNRP Late Model champion, finished ninth in the July event at SNRP, while Robbins finished 16th. Mikey Kile trails Robbins by 20 points. Matt Merrell is 45 points behind in the rookie race.

The Dan Duncan Memorial Aaron's 250 is scheduled for a green flag at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 18. Front gates will open at 2 p.m. and fans can catch Awesome Awnings Pole Qualifying at 4:30 p.m. Following qualifying, fans will be allowed on the frontstretch for the Wraps INK Autograph Session at 5:45 p.m. Pre-race ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can still be purchased, please call SNRP at (919) 284-1114 for more information.

HOOTERS PRO CUP QUICK FACTS

WHAT:   Dan Duncan Memorial Aaron's 250

Presented by Black's Tire & Auto Service
WHERE:                  Southern National Raceway Park

.4-mile, high-banked oval

WHEN: Sat., October 18 at 7 p.m.

DISTANCE: 250 laps/100 miles

POSTED AWARDS: $150,000

STARTING FIELD: 36-car starting field

TELEVISION: VERSUS NETWORK--Monday, Oct. 27 at 4 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:

Friday, Oct. 17 (OPTIONAL):
2:00 p.m. USAR Practice Opens
6:00 p.m. USAR Second Practice Ends

Saturday, Oct. 18:
11:30 a.m. USAR Practice Begins
1:30 p.m. USAR Practice Ends
2:00 p.m. Front Gates Open
4:15 p.m. USAR Scuff Session
4:30 p.m. Awesome Awnings Pole Qualifying
5:45 p.m. Wraps INK Autograph Session
6:30 p.m. Dan Duncan Memorial Aaron's 250 Pre-race Ceremonies
7:00 p.m. Start of Dan Duncan Memorial Aaron's 250

HPCS Track Qualifying Record at SNRP
Driver: Woody Howard
Date: 7/21/07
Time: 14.403 SEC/99.970 MPH

-credit: usar

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Mark McFarland , Mikey Kile , Drew Herring , Matt Merrell