Mark McFarland will rejoin the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series in 2007 when he takes the wheel of Pete Knight’s No. 81 Knight’s Racing Ford in the Southern Division.
In addition to running the 13-race Southern Division schedule, Knight has signed McFarland to compete in four Northern Division events. McFarland will pilot the team’s car at South Boston Speedway, Shenandoah Speedway, Motor Mile Speedway and Mansfield Motorsports Park in the Northern Division.
Ford on March 10 at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Fla.
LEONE AND PREMIERE TEAM UP
The New Year’s resolution for Awesome Awnings and Premiere Motorsports is to win more races. And with today’s announcement, they just may get their wish.
Kirk Leone has signed on to drive the No. 8s Awesome Awnings’ machine during the 2007 season. The triple alliance is a great fit; just the right combination to give the No. 8 race squad the ammunitions they will need for a winning season.
Knights' Racing (Top) and Mark McFarland (Bottom) both had tough 2006 seasons. They are both hoping to turn it around together for 2007.
Awesome Awnings and Premiere Motorsports have been working together for one year now, and while able to recruit several good drivers, Leone was always on their radar.
"It’s been a tremendous goal to get Kirk Leone to join forces with us. We had a short collaboration at the Myrtle Beach, S.C., race last June and again in Kenly, N.C., in July, but his professionalism and dedication throughout the whole year made him stand out as someone we really wanted to be a more permanent part of our team," said Jason Leonard, President of Awesome Awnings, Inc. "After working together I saw his competitiveness and vigor and I knew I wanted him to
"I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the Knight’s Racing Ford," McFarland said. "Pete has put together a great team that has accomplished a lot in a short period of time. I’m glad to get the opportunity to race for his team and I’m ready to get moving on our plans for next year."
The 2007 season marks Pete Knight Racing’s third year competing in the Pro Cup Series. In 2005, the team fielded a car in the Southern Division for Shane Huffman. That year they collected nine wins, four pole awards and the division championship. Then in 2006, Knight fielded cars in both the Northern and Southern Divisions for Brad and Andrew Rogers.
McFarland joins the Knights Racing Team after spending much of the 2006 season driving the No. 88 car in the NASCAR Busch Series for JR Motorsports where he scored his best finish of seventh at Talladega Superspeedway. The 28-year-old, Winchester, Va., native also spent the 2005 season competing in the Pro Cup’s Southern Division for JR Motorsports. That year he collected one win and seven pole awards. McFarland’s extensive racing resume also includes the 2003 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series National Championship.
McFarland will make his debut in the Knight’s Racing
drive our car. Awesome Awnings and Premiere Motorsports are tremendously grateful to have Kirk on board. We have big plans for the season ahead and we’re excited to see how it all plays out."
However it plays out, Leone is grateful for the opportunity and help.
"It’s such a different level of racing than I’m used to," said Leone, who ran his own team in 2006. "This series is so competitive; it’s hard to run a business, a race track and a race team. I think this is going to be beneficial for all of us."
Leone competed full time in the Hooters Pro Cup Series while trying to run his real estate company and racetrack, Southern National Raceway Park. Though he faired pretty well in his sophomore season in Pro Cup, having a shot at the top 10 in points going into the final race, Leone knew it would be tough to keep up the hectic pace for another season.
"Hopefully, this will allow me to be more focused on just driving the car," said Leone. "Steve [Husketh, owner of Premiere Motorsports] has some full-time guys and a lot of knowledge about the series, and Jason Leonard and Awesome Awnings love the sport and want to win. They’re very competitive people, and I’m really excited about the whole deal. Hopefully, we can win some races together."
HOWARD TO WHEEL RBR ENTRY
Ricky Benton Racing announced today that they will team up with driver, Shelby Howard for the 2007 Hooters Pro Cup season.
Howard, who resides in Greenwood, Ind., will move to the Southern Division after running in the North the past two seasons.
In 2006, the 21-year-old Howard finished second in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Championship Standings.
As part of the deal, veteran crew chief, Chris Rice will be joining the team to help coordinate all the race related activities. Rice, over the past few years, has worked in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, Craftsman Truck Series and Busch Series. The plans for 2007 include running for the USAR Championship as well as running in select NASCAR Busch Series events.
Along with Rice will be Barry Elvis who will serve as car chief for the 2007 campaign. RBR has hired chief mechanic, Glenn Ray to be involved with the day-to-day
The #8 Ford (Premiere Motorsports Image)
activities at the shop and the track. Howard will also bring mechanic, Joey Gwin, to be involved with some of the shop & track activities.
Howard’s racing career began back in 1996 and he has driven many types of cars including Sprints, Modifieds, and Late Models. In 2001, Howard became the youngest driver ever to compete in the ARCA RE/Max Series and went on to finish fifth in the ARCA points in 2002. He became the youngest winner ever in that series in 2003 while also going on to finish third in the points. In 2004, Howard made five starts in the NASCAR Busch Series and eight starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Over the past two seasons, RBR has had its ups and downs with the highlight of this past season being the win at Bristol Motor Speedway with its driver, Marty Lindley. RBR, with driver Jason Sarvis, won the 2002 USAR Hooters Pro Cup championship; and with driver, Matt Carter won the 2004 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year Championship. RBR won the 1998 Myrtle Beach Speedway track championship, the Atlantic Seaboard Region Championship, and finished fourth in the nation.
PRO CUP TEST POLICY TWEAKED
The Hooters Pro Cup Series announced today a minor change to its testing policy for the upcoming season.
After allowing unlimited testing before this season, Pro Cup teams were allowed five tests. Next season, teams will still able to test tracks on the schedule five times. But after a track has been competed on, the track will be opened for testing.
"After discussing the change with our Car Owner Advisory Board during the season, we had nothing but positive responses," said Tony Cox, Series Director. "The new rule will keep the integrity of the testing policy, but it will allow teams a place to shakedown cars without having to find a track outside the series."
If a track has multiple events during the 2007, the track will not be opened for testing until after the second race.
Other than the minor change, the Hooters Pro Cup Series Testing Policy will remain the same for the upcoming season.
Teams will be permitted five tests during the season. For Southern Division teams, the testing policy will start the week before the season-opener at USA Int’l Speedway. For Northern Division teams, the testing policy will start before the season-opener at South Boston Speedway.
LUCKY DOG UNCAGED FOR 2007
he Hooters Pro Cup Series announced today at the PRI Trade Show that the Aaron’s "Lucky Dog" would be added during the ’07 season.
Traditionally, the Hooters Pro Cup Series version of the Lucky Dog only allowed the cars lined up in front of the leaders on a restart to cycle back to the lead lap. But under the new version, the first car one-lap down will move to the tail end of the field for the restart.
"This is something we’ve been talking about for several years," said Tony Cox, USAR Series Director. "The Hooters Pro Cup Series has tried to level the playing field on many fronts, and the ‘Lucky Dog’ is just an extension of that. If somebody has some bad luck early in the race, we’d hate to think that their chances of winning were over."
The second-chance theory is the reason Aaron’s began its Lucky Dog program nearly two years ago.
"In racing, just like life, it’s good to have a second chance," said Ken Butler, President of Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership. "The Lucky Dog was a natural fit for our company, because we don’t have credit checks, but it also applies to racing. As competitive as the Hooters Pro Cup Series is, it’s tough to get a lap back. I think it’s going to be good for the sport. The more people that are on the lead lap makes everything a little more exciting."
There will be several differences in the version of the Lucky Dog, however.
Only cars one-lap down will be allowed to make up the lap. Also, no cars that are involved in the caution will be given the Lucky Dog.
Shelby Howard hopes to contnue his winning ways this year.
A.J. Frank will be driving for Mac Hill Motorsports in 2007.