USAR: USA-Lakeland: Race report

Gill Gets Another Win During Record-Setting Afternoon Veteran Driver Adds to Three Records in Collecting Season-Opening Win Lakeland, FL (Feb. 24, 2002) -- Although rain pushed the beginning of the 2002 season back one day, not even bad weather...

Gill Gets Another Win During Record-Setting Afternoon
Veteran Driver Adds to Three Records in Collecting Season-Opening Win

Lakeland, FL (Feb. 24, 2002) -- Although rain pushed the beginning of the 2002 season back one day, not even bad weather could keep Bobby Gill out of victory lane - and adding to his record book.

The defending three-time champion used pit strategy and lapped traffic to win the Lucas Oil 250 presented by Jennie-O Turkey Store Sunday afternoon. The race was the first race of 32 for the United Speed Alliance Racing Hooters ProCup Series on the 2002 schedule and the first of 14 Southern Division races.

"We had a really good car today," said Gill. "We made a couple of pit stops to check some things and we were able to get out front and stay there at the end. The lapped traffic gave me a cushion with Steven because I knew he had a car that could challenge us."

Gill was referring to Steven Christian who finished second and felt he could have challenged for the win.

"I want to thank the guys for working so hard on the car and we wanted to win this race for Lucas and our team but we led some laps and gained some bonus points for that and finished second to give us a good start of the season."

Gill became the first driver in USAR’s brief history to top the $1 million mark in career earnings. Gill now stands at $1,001,200 since joining the Series in 1999. Gill also now stands alone with the most career wins (19). He began the season tied with Mario Gosselin for the most wins. The Dalton, Georgia driver added to his record for most wins at USA International Speedway with six.

Michael Ritch returned to full-time competition in the Series and collected a solid third-place showing. Chad Mullis and Shane Huffman completed the top-five. Toby Robertson was sixth and David Pletcher finished seventh. Kertus Davis, Jeremy Bowser and Sean Studer completed the top-10.

The race was slowed 12 times by caution with the most severe accident of the day occurring on lap 96 when Luke Hill and Calvine Redwine got together in turn four and both cars made hard contact with the outside retaining wall. Both drivers were forced to end their day early, however neither was injured in the hard crash.

Jason Sarvis won the pole award for the second time in the past three races at the .750-mile track only to suffer mechanical problems that eventually ended his day on lap 127. Sarvis led the field on the start but was quickly passed by Bill Plemons, Jr. who led the way for the first 90 laps of the race before Christian passed for the lead on lap 91.

Christian held the top spot until lap 122 when he made a pit stop under caution yielding the lead to Toby Robertson who led until 142. Jeremy Bowser then took over and led the field until lap 170 when Gill passed for the lead and never looked back.

Plemons won the Southern Pride Chewing Tobacco Lap Leader Award for leading the most laps and newcomer Jeff Oakley won the Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Award as the highest finishing rookie in 12th. Robertson collected the Lucas Oil Products Halfway Leader Award for leading the field on lap 125 and Canadian John Gaunt and Kyle Shoemaker shared the W.J. Plemons Investments Hard Charger Award.

The USAR Hooters ProCup Series Southern Division returns to action in three weeks when they return to Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. Gill is the defending champion of that race.

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Kertus Davis , Mario Gosselin , Shane Huffman , John Gaunt