USAR: USA-Lakeland CS: Event preview

USA International Speedway prepares to host Championship finale. Fayetteville, GA (November 18, 2002) -- As the conclusion of the 2002 USAR Hooters ProCup Series draws closer excitement is at an all-time high knowing the Four Champions Memorial...

USA International Speedway prepares to host Championship finale.

Fayetteville, GA (November 18, 2002) -- As the conclusion of the 2002 USAR Hooters ProCup Series draws closer excitement is at an all-time high knowing the Four Champions Memorial Hooters 300 presented by Jennie-O Turkey Store will decide the 2002 National Champion. Four of the five races in the season-ending Championship Series have already been held with some surprising results.

Three-time defending Series champion Bobby Gill has suffered mechanical set backs in two of the four races and enters the final race of the year in fourth place, 74 points out of the lead behind Jason Sarvis. Sarvis, who comes to the final event as the hottest driver in the Series with back-to-back wins at Myrtle Beach Speedway and Peach State Speedway, has rebounded from a 32nd-place finish at Jennerstown Speedway to the lead thanks to two dominating performances.

"The car at Myrtle Beach was probably the best car I have ever driven," Sarivs said. "I can't thank Eastern Foods, Blacks Tire Service, Ricky and Diane Benton enough for this great opportunity. I also want to thank my crew because they work so hard to give me a good car and give me great pit stops to give us a chance to win every night."

Sarvis finished fourth at Winchester Speedway to give him three top-five finishes out of the four races completed in the Championship Series. Sarvis has made the most of bonus points to vault into the lead; collecting the Southern Pride Lap Leader Award for most laps led and the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader Award for leading at the mid-point of the race. The awards pay an additional $1,500 per race but, more importantly, add an additional 10 points to the total awarded for winning a race. The race winner receives an additional five points for leading a lap during a USAR race.

While Sarvis has garnered the most headlines for his recent performances the most consistent driver in the Championship Series has been Steven Christian. Consistency has been the descriptive word for the Buford, GA driver who collected consistency awards for most laps completed during the 1999 & 2000 seasons in the Hooters ProCup Series.

Christian has been the only driver out of the 56 who qualified for the Championship Series to finish in the top-five every race so far this year. Christian has used this consistency to sit second in the point standings, only 48 points out of the lead, heading to the final race (713-665). USA International Speedway holds special memories for Christian who won his first career USAR Hooters ProCup Series race at the ¾-mile track in 2000.

Christian, who has three wins in the Series, including one earlier this season at Peach State Speedway, is confident his Lucas Oil Products team can challenge Sarvis all the way to the end of the season.

"We have a great car and team," said Christian. "We have a great sponsor in Lucas Oil Products and the guys on the crew have done a great job all season long and we will be ready to go for the title at USA International."

Clay Rogers currently sits third in the point standings after losing the points lead at Peach State Speedway, when he and Shane Huffman got together on the front stretch during the race, giving him a 28th place finish. It was his first finish out of the top-five in the Championship Series. Rogers, who won the first race of the five-race series at Winchester Speedway in September, is still within striking distance, just 63 points behind Sarvis (713-650).

While the unique format has set some drivers back in the points after problems during races, several drivers have made the most of their opportunities to advance in the standings. Two of those drivers are Stacy Puryear and Joe Gaita. The duo of Virginia-based drivers began the Championship Series in 50th and 52nd place, respectively, and now each are within striking distance of the top-10. Gaita is 12th, nine points out of 10th-place, (590-581) and Puryear sits 13th, 37 points out of the top-10 (590-553).

Both drivers began the season on the sidelines and quickly joined new race teams to reach the Championship Series. Gaita joined his ACS/Kimnach Ford/Towne Bank team after they decided to make a driver change earlier this season and has enjoyed a strong run in the Championship Series. Gaita joins Christian as the only driver to finish in the top-10 in all four previous Championship Series events.

"That has been the biggest help to us, to finish in the top-10 in each race," said Gaita. "We would love to finish the Championship Series in the top-10 and we will need a top-five finish at Lakeland to have a chance at it."

Puryear, who collected his only win in the Series last year at Jennerstown Speedway, is equally excited about his team's chance to finish in the top-10.

"When we started the Championship Series one of our goals was to finish in the top-10 in the final standings," said Puryear. "I have been so blessed to have the Mabe Trucking crew supporting me each week and these guys are a special group who work hard. To finish in the top-10 would be great for our team and our sponsor Mabe Trucking."

Jay Fogleman and Hal Goodson sit tied for fifth-place, 76 points out of the lead (713-637) and Brian Ross used a solid finish at Peach State Speedway to solidify his standings in the top-10 in seventh. The 1998 USAR Hooters ProCup Series champion, Jeff Agnew, is eighth with Mardy Lindley and Shane Huffman completing the top-10.

The Hooters 300 presented by Jennie-O Turkey Store will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday November 30th at USA International Speedway. For ticket information please contact USA International Speedway at 800-964-7223.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , Brian Ross , Shane Huffman , Jeff Agnew