Gill Clinches Southern Division Crown in Convincing Fashion Two-Time Defending Series Champion Equals Win Total of Last Season Lakeland, FL (Sept. 1, 2001) -- Bobby Gill proved again Saturday night why he still is the man to beat in...
Gill Clinches Southern Division Crown in Convincing Fashion
Two-Time Defending Series Champion Equals Win Total of Last Season
Lakeland, FL (Sept. 1, 2001) -- Bobby Gill proved again Saturday night why he still is the man to beat in the USAR Hooters ProCup Series. Gill outdistanced rookie Jason Sarvis to win the Jackaroo Sauces 200 presented by Lucas Oil Products and in the process clinched the Southern Division regular-season title at USA International Speedway. The win was the second consecutive win for Gill at the .750-mile track southeast of Orlando. Steven Christian, who collected his first career Hooters ProCup Series win at this race last year, finished third and Jay Fogleman followed in fourth. Kertus Davis was the last car to finish on the lead lap and came home fifth.
"We had a really good car tonight," Gill said. "We ran good all day and qualified well. Now we have to get ready to try and win the big money."
Gill was making reference to the big money offered in the Four Champions Challenge Series set to begin in less than two weeks at Chicago Motor Speedway. As the division champion, Gill will enter the first-ever playoff-type Series with an advantage over the remaining 24 qualifiers from the Southern Division.
The fireworks began early in the race as Mario Gosselin hit the wall on the start after his accelerator hung and forced a complete restart. Gosselin qualified on the outside pole and entered the race as one of the hottest drivers on the circuit with back-to-back wins and three straight pole awards before Saturday night.
Sarvis won his first-ever Lance Snacks Pole Award and quickly jumped to the lead on the restart and remained out front for the first 54 laps before Gill took the lead for the first time on lap 55.
Stacy Puryear brought out the caution flag when he lost his right wheel and hit the wall. Gill opted to stay on the track and continued his lead.
Gill led at lap 100 to win the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader Award and was able to put several cars a lap down as drivers were forced to pit under the green flag.
It looked as if Gill was going to have to pit for fuel under green as well until Scott Hall made contact with the wall after loosing a tire on lap 118. The beneficial caution enabled Gill to pit under yellow and keep several contending cars a lap or more down.
Sarvis took the lead under the caution and led until lap 145 when Gill passed for the lead and stayed out front the rest of the way.
Sarvis also added the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Award to his winnings for the night and also enters the Four Champions Championship Series as the leading contender from the Southern Division for the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year Award and $10,000 first-place prize.
Lee Tissot finished sixth and John Kinder continued his strong string of performances in the second half of the season with a seventh-place finish and his fifth top-10 showing overall.
Derrick Kelley rebounded from an early pit stop to finish in eighth and Daniel Johnson came home ninth and won the W.J. Plemons Investments Hard Charger Award for advancing 17 positions during the race. Shane Huffman ended his breakout season with his ninth top-10 finish of the year.
Two drivers that needed good runs at USA International Speedway to secure spots for the Championship Series did just that as Chad Mullis and Kevin Sasser finished 12th and 13th, respectively. That also pulled into the 24th and 25th positions in the point standings, which makes them eligible for the Championship Series.
Christian finished second in the point standings to Gill and edged Hal Goodson by just two points for the runner-up position. Jay Fogleman followed in fourth and Huffman finished fifth. All five teams, plus leading rookie competitor Sarvis and his team, are now eligible for the first annual Goodyear Pit Crew Championship that will be held in conjunction with the Alan Kulwicki Memorial/Hooters 200 at Chicago Motor Speedway.
Those six teams, along with the six qualifying teams from the Northern Division will compete for a $6,000 purse with the winning team sharing a $3,000 first-place prize from Goodyear. Goodyear has been the official tire off USAR and the Hooters ProCup Series since the Series was formed in 1996.
The top-25 from the Northern Division will be determined next week when the regular season finale will be held at Chemung Speedrome. Mardy Lindley currently leads those point standings over Brian Vickers who won at Chemung back in June.