Mark McFarland Is the Man On Top of The Mountain at Shenandoah by Amy Hayes
Up and Down Year for Driver Reaches High Point in Pro Cup Series
Mark McFarland in victory lane. (51 Photos)
To say that the past year for Mark McFarland had been a roller coaster ride would be an understatement. The talented young driver went from a secure ride in the NASCAR Busch Series, to being without a ride and then to finally coming back to a home in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series.
Then, with the latest edition of the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series at Shenandoah Speedway (VA), that roller coaster ride of McFarland’s finally reached the pinnacle as he was able to bring home his second-career USAR Pro Cup victory in a special Thursday night event at Shenandoah Speedway in Virginia.
"This is just great,” said McFarland, “This team is really pumped up. They were a little down, wondering if they were doing the right things earlier in the year. But that was just circumstances. Now, they know they were doing the right things."
And fittingly enough, his visit back to victory lane came in his home state of Virginia.
What is even more fitting is that in the end, the battle for the lead came down to two Virginia boys, McFarland and Jack Bailey, who grew up racing with each other around the short tracks of the state.
“Mark is from my home track, so I grew up following him in Late Models,” said Bailey. “I was laughing about it with my spotter, it’s kind of reminiscent of what we used to do. If something would have happened to Mark we might have had something but ifs and buts don’t add up to anything.”
Bailey took the lead on lap 154 and was looking toward the win. But he was unable to hold off McFarland when he came knocking on lap 211.
“I thought if I could have gotten a caution that I would have been able to hold him off,” added Bailey. “But he had one of the best cars out there and I will settle for second-place finish any day.”
At the beginning of the race, it didn’t look as though McFarland had a chance to win. He was fast in the opening laps but he and Bailey made contact early on lap 35 of the feature.
"Me and Jack have raced together a lot at Old Dominion Speedway in the past, so I knew he didn’t mean to get into me earlier in the race," said McFarland. "It so hard to pass here, he was just doing what he had to do."
Then to add insult to injury, after the incident with Bailey, McFarland was one of the many cars throughout the night who were given a penalty for pitting infractions, but not even that could stop him.
"When I first spun, I thought it was going to be a struggle to win, but this team never gave up. They had an awesome pit stop. We came in 11th and came back out fourth or fifth. After that, I knew we had a shot and it feels good to be back in victory lane."
Jack Bailey was fast in his first time out in the No. 11
Short Notice and All Nighters Don’t Bother Jack Bailey
Just three weeks ago, Jack Bailey didn’t have a ride in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series. Two weeks before the latest event, he did, and it paid off with a second-place finish.
“I got let go from my old ride the Tuesday before the race at South Boston ,” said Bailey. "And then I got offered this ride to run for five races, and I really wanted to be able to drive so I said ‘sure lets do it’.”
“I have spent the last two weeks in Cleveland, on getting this car together. This team and I, we worked hard, pulled all-nighters in order to get this car ready for the race. I am a racer, I want to win every race but all things considered and that this was a volunteer crew and a last minute deal, a second place finish is really good.”
2006 Champion Clay Rogers ran into some difficulty at Shenandoah.
Round and Round We Go
All drivers have some thoughts to say about the new pit rules that the Pro Cup series has put in place for the 2007 season. The Southern division has gotten a little bit more practice with using these new rules, but it was only the second race for the Northern Division and the majority of the competitors were penalized with dropping down to pit sometime soon. Those penalized included race winner Mark McFarland and 2006 champion Clay Rogers. At the beginning of the race, it looked as though it might have been Rogers night, but being put to the back of the field as part of the penalty forced Rogers to have to fight his way back up through the field to finish sixth.
“We were two or three spots in front of Mark before we got penalized,” said Rogers. “But it’s just a product of these new ridiculous pit road rules they have now. Why you want to take a quarter-mile race track and make people come down pit road twice in one lap, I don’t know.”
“They said we passed cars, it’s maybe a 150 yards from the end of pit road to pit opening, and apparently Woody and I just blasted by some. All I saw was Woody in front of me beside a car when we entered, but really on a racetrack like this where is the entrance to pit road. We didn’t pass any cars. “
St Amant Is The Man
Gary St. Amant struggled early in Thursday’s Pro Cup event. He had to use a provisional in qualifying, but once the race started nobody would have really have known that.
“We did all we could with what we had,” said St Amant.
And when a driver can walk away with a third place finish after starting 29th, that’s a pretty good job of doing what you could.
“We didn’t have a great racecar, but luckily we had a lot of cautions that helped us out. I don’t know if we were even a top-10 racecar, but like I said all the cautions helped us out. There were times that we were good on the bottom, there were times that we were good on the top. There was a lot of oil on the track, but the track crew did a great job of getting it cleaned up. I am just tickled to death to get out of here with a podium finish.”
By the end of the race, the No. 07 was up front despite having to atart from the back.