Lakeland Race Set to Kick Off a Promising Pro Cup Season
Entry List is Long and Teams Are Ready to Race
While it may be hard to pick a favorite for the season-opening Aaron’s Southern Division event, one thing is for certain. The Sears Auto Center 200 presented by Handy Neighborhood Stores is a must-see event.
Mark McFarland, who spent much of last year in the Busch Series, has joined the potent Pete Knight Racing team and should be considered a threat right out of the box.
Mike Garvey, who spent the last few season at the NEXTEL Cup level, is slated for a full-time return to the Hooters Pro Cup Series. Two years ago, Garvey had one win in seven starts before moving up to NEXTEL Cup and should be just a strong this year.
Buckshot Jones, a former Busch Series winner, will pilot the No. 00s Bowen Family Homes ride
during the 2007 season. If the chemistry is right, this paring could pay dividends.
Shelby Howard and Woody Howard, no relation, are making the jump to the Aaron’s Southern Division
this season and should be contenders for wins immediately.
Veteran drivers Michael Ritch and Jay Fogleman were shut out of the win column last season, but both
drivers have the talent and potential to win any week.
Sophomore drivers Dange Hanniford, Trevor Bayne, Brett Butler, Jeff Fultz and Kirk Leone all led laps
and posted top-five finishes during their rookie campaigns. Don’t be surprised to see any of these drivers win early in the season.
While the veterans may have the upper hand to start the year, the bumper crop of Miller Lite Rookie
of the Year contenders will make some noise this season.
Wade Day, Dusty Williams, Gary Helton, Richard Boswell, James Buesher, Matt Hawkins, Frank
Deiny, Joey Coulter, Tom Hessert, Brian Scott, Justin Wakefield and Caleb Holman are all part of
what could be the deepest and most-talented rookie class to ever hit the track in the Hooters Pro Cup
Based on his track record, Gill is still the “King of USA Int’l,” but the list of those ready to dethrone him is long, very long.
The Sears Auto Center 200 presented by Handy Neighborhood Stores is scheduled for a green flag at 7:30 p.m. Front gates will open for the fans at 10:30 a.m. for the start of the two-hour final practice. Advance Auto Parts Pole Qualifying will start at 4:30 p.m. and the on-track autograph session will begin at 6:15 p.m.
Following the Sears Auto Center 200, the FASCAR Late Model Challenge Series will run a 100-lap feature.
Bobby Gill has driven the #06 to victory lane at Lakeland before. He's hoping for a repeat this weekend.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an entry list this loaded for a regular season race,” said Tony Cox, USAR Series Director. “I never thought we could top the competition level we had last season, but I might be wrong.”
Though the competition is at a crescendo, one driver sticks out in everyone’s mind when it comes to the .75-mile track in Lakeland, Fla. Bobby Gill has made USA Int’l Speedway his own personal playground. In 29 starts, Gill has racked up 12 wins, 22 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes. His 12 wins at the track alone would put him seventh on the all-time win list.
“I just like to go fast,” Gill said of his dominance at USA Int’l Speedway. “I didn’t get a chance to do it on the superspeedways, so I like it when we go to Lakeland.”
But Gill will have to be on his game if he’d like to add to his stout stats. There will be no less than eight Pro Cup winners in the starting field and countless new faces vying for their first victory.