KAUFFMAN'S WIN A FAMILY AFFAIR... OLD AND NEW by Matthew Dillner
Pro Cup Teen and His New Roommate Meeting Expectations
Joel Kauffman was “lonesome” at Lonesome Pine Speedway on Saturday night. He may have had his family, a new team and his new crew chief there, but he was in a class by himself on the race track.
And for Kauffman and this team, the win couldn't come at a better time.
Kauffman's Pro Cup career hasn't gone as planned for the Indiana-native. He came into the Pro Cup world with very high expectations. Kauffman had a lot of hype after becoming the youngest CRA/SSS Super Late Model Champion in the history of that series at the tender age of 16. But since, that hype has lost some of it's luster.
Joel Kauffman hoists the hardware after his second career Pro Cup win.. (51 Photo)
Kauffman had the dominant car all night at stop number two for the Hooters Pro Cup Series Northern Division in Coeburn, VA. He capitalized on his rocket ship-racecar and made it look pretty easy en route to the win over second- and third-place finishers Benny Gordon and AJ Frank.
“I don't when the last time is that I drove a car that dominant two weeks in a row,” said Kauffman after the win. “I can't thank my guys enough.”
Kauffman had the dominant car in the season opener at South Boston Speedway a couple of weeks ago too, but at Lonesome Pine, he was able to make it last.
“We had an even better car at South Boston (where he finished sixth) but I guess the best car doesn't always win. We had a miscue in the pits and got into a scrummage on the restart and knocked the toe out. We were able to come back (to Lonesome Pine) and had another great car tonight and were able to capitalize on it. I'm looking for a lot more of these runs this season.”
Kauffman, now 19-years old, hasn't had the best of times in his two full seasons in the Pro Cup Series. But he rekindled that magic last season grabbing his first career Pro Cup win at Salem Speedway in Indiana. Yet, 2004 was a year where expectations were not met.
With two years of experience under his belt and a win just two races into 2005, the teenager is now the man to beat in the Northern Division.
“We had our ups and downs last year,” says Joel. “We had some bad luck and some good luck. We had some good and bad cars. We were able to get our first win,
Kauffman's #44 was fast all day at Pine.
which I think was the biggest thing last year. It kept my faith up in myself. If I didn't get that win I don't know if I would be standing here right now. That meant a lot.”
The win was very special for Kauffman and his family-owned team. And he showed that emotion in a lengthy and teary-eyed embrace with his father and mother in victory lane.
“My dad has put me in the best situation I could ask for ever since I was 10 years old,” said the humble teen. “If it weren't for him I wouldn't be standing here right now. I owe it all to him. It's nights like these that make it feel worthwhile so I want to make it real special for him.”
Vern Kauffman has always been behind his son’s efforts, and appreciated the importance of the moment too.
“As a car owner, it is awesome to win. But as a father it is 10-times more awesome to win. For us to have the means to do this, not only as a race team but as a family and a father and son, it is just so special. It really is.”
“My dad decided he was going to make some changes over the winter,” said Joel. “Apparently he made all the right ones, so I have to thank him.”
One of those big changes was new crew chief Barry Elvis. Elvis joined the team over the winter and has not only been working at the shop, but also lives with his driver.
“It's just hard to say what Barry Elvis has brought to this team,” said Vern. “He and Joel live together and work together. They are together 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They've been spending 15 hour days together at the race shop. That is really where these races are won and lost is at the race shop. I don't think in eight or 10 years of racing we've ever gone to the racetrack as well prepared as we are now. It is showing.”
“To get a win here this early in the season is just that much better for our team. We are able to carry that momentum throughout the season. I think these guys are going to have to watch out for us every weekend.”
With a pole and a sixth at South Boston Speedway (VA) and a win at Lonesome Pine, the #44 Team now sits second in points.
With a new outlook, a new crew chief and roommate, Joel Kauffman is now living up to those expectations in the Pro Cup world.
Editor's Note: Speed51.com will have more on the Pro Cup Northern Division race at Lonesome Pine coming soon in our Leftovers section.
Race #2 - Lonesome Pine Speedway Results
1 - Joel Kauffman
2 - Benny Gordon
3 - A J Frank
4 - Johnny Rumley
5 - Woody Howard
6 - Mardy Lindley
7 - Gary St Amant
8 - Joe Gaita
9 - D J Kennington
10 - Danny O'Quinn Jr
11 - Tim Bainey Jr
12 - Eric Sartin
13 - Donny Lia
14 - Glenn Gault
15 - Mart Nesbitt
16 - Travis Miller
17 - Eric Corbett
18 - Jimmy Spencer Jr
19 - Mike Laughlin Jr
20 - Sam Fullone
21 - Freddie Taylor Jr
22 - Joe Harrison, Jr
23 - Jeff Oakley
24 - Randy Humphrey
25 - Leslie Law
26 - Greg Van Alst
27 - Danny Sammons
28 - Robby Marhefka
29 - Jeff Agnew
The living arrangement is unusual, but it works. The duo has gelled quicker than even they had expected.
“I think it helps being together that much,” claims crew chief Barry Elvis. “We are really learning each other. Joel is a real good kid. We have to learn each other and have confidence in each other. We've had a good car the past two weeks so that has helped that come together.”
“I couldn't write a better story for our team being new,” says Joel. “It's virtually all new people. We went from having four or five guys, full-time in the shop to having two. You would think that is harder but these cars are so easier to drive right now. We've got so much knowledge and awesome pit crew. You couldn't really ask for much more. We had the perfect package tonight and the perfect car.
Crew chief Barry Elvis poses with his roomate and driver after their first win together (Kathy Bond Photo).
Joel and his father Vern share an emotional moment in victory lane (51 Photo).