PRO CUP LEFTOVERS:  BRISTOL  by Jeremy Troiano
Wallace x 2, Sarvis, Kauffman, Huffman & Much More
EARLY BIG WRECK SETS TONE FOR THE NIGHT

Ask any casual observers and they’ll tell you that Wednesday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Pro Cup cars resembled more of a demo derby than a 150-lap event with some of the best Short Track racers in the country.

It’s nothing against the drivers or the series either.  It is just something that happened, mainly because all of the drivers and teams knew how important the race was, running in front of many influential people in the NASCAR world.  Therefore, there was just a little less “give and take” than normally shown amongst the drivers.
track,” said Kauffman.  “The next thing I know, it felt like someone t-boned me in the side.  Steve (Wallace) was behind me on the restart.  It made me a little bit nervous.  I didn’t know what to expect.  Now, we have a tore up race car.

“He got into us pretty good down there.  I don’t know what the deal was.  I don’t know if he hit the apron or what.  I can’t really say.  It is real disappointing.  I was just trying to get some laps here for the Busch race on Friday.  I don’t think we made it over 10 laps or so.  That is too bad.”
This multi-car accident took out a bunch of cars early in the race. (David Allio photo)
The tone for the night’s event was set early.  On lap five, leaders Clay Rogers and Shane Wallace spun with each other.  Then, on lap 13, Bristol’s “big one” struck… big time.

Joel Kauffman and Steve Wallace got together coming off of turn two in front of nearly the entire oncoming field.  Many of the leaders were coming up from the back of the pack after pitting during the first caution and were swept up in the aftermath.

“I was going through one and two and found myself with a little bit of a push and found myself a groove up the
The accident swept up over 12 cars.  While most were able to continue in some way, many were effected by the accident.  Those involved included Shane Huffman, Bobby Gill, Shane Wallace, Danny O’Quinn, Ken Butler, Andrew Rogers, Daniel Johnson and several others.  Only Shane Wallace and Kauffman were knocked out right away.  O’Quinn retired from the event a few laps later.  Both Gill and Rogers fixed their cars and made a few more laps before retiring from the event.

Several drivers had something to say about it.

“I wish I knew what happened,” said O’Quinn.  “There were cars going everywhere.  We had a great racecar.  We came off of the turn and there were cars everywhere.  I got on the brakes and got hit from every angle.  I don’t know whose fault it was.  I know it was a mess and took out a lot of good race cars. 

“This was an important race.  We wanted to come out here and do good for the new sponsor.  We don’t have the opportunity to do that.  We have to haul it home in pieces.  It is a shame.”

“Joel Kauffman chopped me coming off of turn two one time and I ended up causing a big wreck,” said Steve Wallace.  “We ended up blowing out the right front tire and knocked the toe out all to hell.  We had to come in and pull the toe out of the car.
Bobby Gill's #06 was able to get back out on the track, but Shane Wallace was done for the night after the big wreck.  (51 Photos)
“The deal with Bristol is when the door opens, you go.  Joel slowed up and I put my nose under him and my right front tire was all the way up to his door.  He came down.  It was early in a run, you would think he would have given me the spot.”

Huffman got slowed down, but was hit from behind by Shane Wallace as everyone slowed.  Huffman was able to continue, but lost a lap repairing his damage.

“It is just Bristol,” said Huffman.  “I don’t know if Shane’s dad wasn’t paying attention or what.  He had a good car too.  It is just one of those deals.  Sometimes, you just can’t get keyed up.  And if a driver isn’t on his toes, stuff like that happens.  He got in the back of us and turned us around.

“Man, we had an awesome car.  They beat the spoiler back up on the car and taped the rear bumper cover back on.  I was just a little freer than I was before.  We still had a car that could win the race.”

ROGERS, WALLACE WRECK EARLY

Before the big one, front row starters Shane Wallace and Clay Rogers found themselves spinning after the two made contact heading into turn one while battling for the lead.

Rogers got the jump on the start and lead the first five laps.  However, Wallace made a roaring charge heading into turn one on the sixth lap.   The two drivers made contact and both spun.  Somehow, both drivers were able to keep their cars off of the wall.
“By the time the spotter hit the button, I was turning sideways.   I thought the car was destroyed   I thought I backed it in the wall.  I thought the nose came around and hit the wall and the radiator was destroyed.  They came on the radio and said the car looked fine. 

“I know he is mad.  Me and Shane have raced a lot together.   It just sucks for him.  I hate it.”

Wallace was mad after the accident.

“He kind of pinched me off on the first turn and I let him go,” said Wallace of Rogers.  “He was kinda greedy about leading the first lap.  I was faster than him though.  He just turned left on me and drove me to the apron.  He could have took us both out.  He is the stupid one for doing something like that.  I don’t know. 

“I was up to his quarter panel and my spotter was standing next to his spotter and his spotter said inside clearly.  Clay is like that.  We are good friends.  We were good friends.  He’s admitted to me a bunch of times that he’s raced the crap out of me to make me a better driver.  He is just not going to finish another race for the rest of the season.”

HUFFMAN HAS EVENTFUL NOT, NOT HAPPY ABOUT THE RACE
Clay Rogers (#44) and Shane Wallace (#38) spun after contact early in the event. (Allio Photo)
However, their nights went in opposite ways after that.  Rogers went on to win the race, while Wallace was swept up in the big accident just laps later.

“I got on the gas a little quick there coming off of four and slid up the track a little bit,” said Rogers.  “I looked up in my mirror and he wasn’t to me coming to the line.  In my opinion, at this track, you need to start a pass coming out of turn four if you want to pass them going in to turn one.  You can’t start it at the start finish line if you want to pass them going into one.  Not at this race track.  Things happen so fast, there is no time to react. 
Things could have been a lot worse for Shane Huffman on Wednesday night, all things considered. 

He as swept up in the big accident early in the event.  The crew got the #81 fixed, but other problems kept going wrong.  At the end of the night, his was “beat to hell,” but he still finished with a 19th-palce finish.

Huffman, who is looked at as one of the series’ superstars, was not impressed with how the series came across during its shot at a national level.

“It was terrible out there tonight,” said Huffman.  “There is no sense in it.  Some of these guys don’t use their
Shane Huffman (51 Photo)
heads.  Right there at the end of the race, everyone was just wrecking each other.  There is no sense in it at all.  I guess we came out of here unscathed last year.  It didn’t look that way this year here.

“Everyone was trying to impress tonight.  Shane Wallace had a lot better car than anyone here tonight.  I think if he would have been patient there at the beginning, he would have been the man to beat all night long.  He and Cay might have never have gotten together.   That set the tone for the rest of the night right there.  It was just terrible out there.

“What do you do about it?  It isn’t my job to dictate what goes on in the series.  We really had some problems as a series here tonight.  It wasn’t just stuff that happened on the race track either.”

Late in the race, Huffman was trying to get a lap back when he and Clay Rogers nearly got together while Rogers was leading the event.   After the event, Huffman felt bad about the incident.

“I had no intentions of getting into Clay,” said Huffman.  “I had a lot faster car than Clay and I drove up under him in turn one.  He came down on me a little bit on me coming out of turn two and it knocked my bumper cover off and it was way too loose when I got into three. 

“It about cost Clay the race.  And I would have never have done that for nothing in the world.  But at the same time, he played as much of a part of it as I did.  I’m sure he’s got a different approach to it.”

FAULK HAS WILD NIGHT BUT FINISHES
on the front straight or the back straight.  I’m just so happy to come out of here with a top 10."

Michael’s seventh-place finish tightened up the Rookie of the Year chase to it’s closest point all season with only nine points separating Faulk and the leading rookie, Chase Pistone. Wayne Willard is only five points behind Faulk.

"This is the way it should be," said Faulk. "It will be a great show for the fans. I’m sure that none of us will leave anything on the track at Lakeland. We are due for a good finish there. Our 1st two visits were not what we were looking for, but I still think we can pick up a win this year, and what a great place for our first Hooters Pro victory."

CLAY BURNS THEM DOWN FOR CREW & FANS

The act of the post-race, celebratory donut is somewhat getting old.   However, when a driver comes and does one that just takes your breath away, there is still something special about it.
Michael Faulk is right in the rookie race. (51 Photo)
Rookie Michael Faulk was able to steer clear of the cautions on Wednesday night and once again worked his way through the field to finish seventh and picked up his fourth Miller Lite Rookie of the Race Award in the 2005 USAR Hooters Pro Cup Southern Division Series.

"That was the hardest race I have ever run in," said an exhausted Faulk after the race. "You can’t lose focus one second here. It’s the most physically and mentally demanding track I have ever raced at.  What a night.  This is my first race at Bristol and what an experience it is.  You are in the wall more than you are on the race track.  The speeds are so fast through the corner and the Gs are so much, you most of the time can’t remember if you are
Such was the case for Clay Roger’s post-race celebration.  Not only did it include a burnout that matched many seen in recent years, but it also included a “polish victory lap,” which was very important, coming at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The “polish victory lap” was made famous by former NASCAR champion Alan Kulwicki, who made the backwards victory lap famous.  Kulwicki was sponsored by Hooters restaurants and was killed flying into Bristol Motor Speedway with several officials from the Hooters Restaurant chain in a plane accident.  Robert Brooks, the owner of the restaurant chain, lost a son in the place
Clay's burnout at Bristol filled the night sky with smoke.
accident.   Brooks started the Hooters Pro Cup Series in honor of his son and Kulwicki and the others who perished in the accident.

“I did that burnout for my guys,” said Rogers.  “What better way can you give back to your guys.  That is special to see their faces when I climbed out of my car.

“Second gear, drop the clutch, hold the brake and dial the brake all the way to the front,” added Rogers.  “I wanted to do the polish victory lap for Alan Kulwicki.  He means so much to the series.  He is the reason it started.  That all started right here, coming to a race at this track.  Hopefully that made the highlight real for the end of the year.”

NO POWER STEERING?  NO PROBLEM

On paper, Chase Pistone’s 11th place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday night was a solid run for the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series Southern Division Rookie of the Year points leader. 

However, in reality, Pistone’s run was a mirror for how his rookie season with the Pro Cup Series has gone so far this year.   The youngster had to overcome problem after problem to fight back to a top finish.
because we were late, they only allowed  us one qualifying lap.  We ended up qualifying 27th in the first laps on that engine.  We knew that we would be in for a long night after that.”

Pistone didn’t know how long it would get.

“We ended up having power steering problems.  The power steering went away.  We had to come in on almost every stop and try to fill up the reservoir just to try and give me some relief for a few laps after each restart.

“Things were actually going good and we were in the top-10.  The car wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad.  But we had to drive it up through there.  We were the top rookie there late in the race, which is what we were wanting to come out of Bristol with.  We just wanted the car in one piece and to come out of there with a solid finish and a good points night.

“We were the top rookie until the #99 (Ken Butler III) got into the back of us and spun us around late.  That really hurt us.  We had to come from the back again.  We eventually made it back up to 11th, but that was as far as we could do.  We weren’t the top rookie, but fighting back up to 11th, we didn’t lose many points to the other rookies who are chasing us.”

BEING BACK UP FRONT PERFECT FOR SARVIS
“All things considered, 11th was a decent run with what we went through,” said Pistone after the event.  “I know we could have had a better finish then that though.  And we should have.  But sometimes, things just don’t go your way.”

Pistone’s day started out rough.  Never seeing Bristol before Wednesday, the rookie had to become adapted to the tough half-mile.   Before too long though, the power plant in his #40 Metrolina Expo Center / FastTimes Motorsports Ford let go, forcing Chase and the team to have to rent a motor from another team for qualifying and the race.

“We got the motor changed just in time for qualifying, but
Since returning to the series this year full-time, Jason Sarvis has struggled just a bit.  He has yet to win a race and hadn’t even led a lap coming into Bristol.

However, on Wednesday night, Sarvis looked like he was back to his old form.

Sarvis led a good portion of the middle part of the event, including at the halfway mark, earning himself a extra $1,000.   He led a total of 50 laps in the event.
“Tonight turned out good,” said Sarvis.  “We decided to stay out when everyone else came in.  We were going to come in around lap 30 or 40 anyway.  When all the leaders came real real early, we decided to stay out.  It ended up working in our favor because they had a big wreck and we stayed in front of that.  I knew we were out in clean track and they were back there with their fresh tires racing real hard to get back to the front.

“It felt good to lead laps again.  That was the first time this year.  That is something I got accustomed too in the past.  I knew we could do it tonight.  If there would have been more green flag laps and not as many caution flag laps during the end of the race, I think our pit call would have been the right call.   We were three-tenths quicker than then leader.”

Sarvis finished fifth.

MOVING ON UP

Mark McFarland came back from being involved in the big wreck at Bristol to earn a solid third-place finish.

However, eyes were on McFarland at Bristol for another reason.  It was recently announced that Mark would move up to the NASCAR Busch Series with the same JR Motorsports team, a team owned soley by NASCAR Nextel Cup star Dale Earnhardt Jr.  The team will have sponsorship from the US Navy.
HERMAN’S LAST PRO CUP RACE?

Mike Herman has been an on and off racer in the Pro Cup Series for some time now.    Now, he might be an off racer in the Pro Cup Series after a solid run turned sour in Bristol.  He finished 29th.

“This could quite possibly be my last Pro Cup race,” said Herman.  “The reality of racing is setting in.  Actually, the reality set in some years ago, but we kept racing because we have a big heart.
McFarland will drive the full-time #88 entry.  The move into NASCAR’s Busch Series as a team owner is the next step in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s evolutionary career.

“I’m proud to be entering a relationship with an organization like the U.S. Navy,” Earnhardt, stated. “When you consider the history and the accomplishment the Navy has it’s overwhelming. The opportunities the Navy can provide for people are virtually limitless. They’ve given us an opportunity with this sponsorship and I’m proud to represent them. They’re giving Mark an opportunity as well and I’m confident he will make the most of it.”
“We will just see what the future holds.  It is a hard pill to swallow.  The cost of doing business has escalated.  These guys are spending a lot of money to come out here and race for $10,000 to win and $1,000 to start.    It takes $400,000 to run a competitive Pro Cup deal a year.

“My sponsor, Fireside, has been great to me.  It is hard to compete against these guys part time though when they are full time.  I’ve still got every desire to drive a race car, no doubt, but it is getting harder and harder.  Working all night on racecars and getting no sleep is just getting harder and harder on me.  I just turned 31 and it is tough.  You might see me back here.  If not, you
Mike Herman returned to the Pro Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway.
might seem me at Bowman Gray in a Modified.  That is where I always said I would swear to end my career.  If they are ready for me up there, I might just show me up there. 

“The Pro Cup deal is fun from the green flag to the checkered flag these days.”

WINNER WEIGHS IN ON ROUGH DRIVING
Mark McFarland's #32
Chase Pistone looks over his #40 as the team replaces the engine after practice.
when we come to Bristol and run 125 mph all the way around.  I hate it that is happens, but it happens.”

NO NEED TO HANG A HEAD

After Wednesday night’s Food City 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway, USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series Rookie of the Year candidate Andrew Rogers was hanging his head following a 32nd place finish.  However, all of those in attendance all day long at Bristol knew that Rogers had no reason to hang his head.  In fact, they all knew that Rogers, given the right opportunities and the right luck, might just have been the car to beat, had he gotten the chance.

Rogers ran in the top-five in practice.  In qualifying, he backed it up by turning in the eighth quickest time of all those in attendance.  Come race time, Rogers made his move over the first couple of laps, then the #18 crew did their job, getting Andrew out second among all those leaders who pitted.

However, the high speeds and short tempers at Bristol quickly took their toll on Rogers.  Coming off that first restart, the youngster was a victim of a multi-car accident started when two cars who didn’t pit got together in front of the oncoming traffic.  Rogers suffered severe front end damage. 
Clay Rogers knew the race at Bristol was a rough one.  He was part of some of that rough driving.  He gave us why he thought that was.

“You get put on this big stage,” said Rogers.  “With 50,000 people up there in the stands, everyone wants to win.  Everyone wants to move on too.  Joel Kauffman, Steve Wallace, myself, my brother; we all want to move up and go Busch racing or Cup racing.  The whole deal is though.  You have to be patient.  At this track, if you car is off, you can’t make up for it by driving harder.

“Hell, we wreck at Hickory.  What is going to happen
“We had a really positive day,” said Rogers.  “Everything was going really good.  We qualified really good and we were running solid.  We were probably about eighth or so.  All the leaders decided to come in after that first caution, which was really soon, but we decided to come in with them.  So we came in, took tires and probably should have been the first car back out.  Bobby Gill beat us, at least that is what the official said. 

“So we took off and there was about three of us just coming up through there, trying to get back to the front of the field around those cars that didn’t pit.  We just kept trying to follow Bobby Gill up through there.  Then, Steve Wallace caused a big wreck in front of us.  To have someone drive carelessly and take someone out and all the other cars that got taken out with them, there is no
Andrew Rogers had a great day... until race time came around.
reason for it.  Your spotter is yelling and you are on the brakes but there is no where to go and nothing you can go.  When they are all the way across the track, there isn’t much you can do.

The team worked to get Rogers back out on the track.  However, the team eventually retired from the event to save from damaging the engine.

Despite that, Rogers was happy with what the team accomplished at such a high profile event.
Andrew wasn't intimidated by Bristol's high banks and he followed it up by racing well during the event.

“It was a positive day going into the race.  We were a top four car all day long.  We were happy with qualifying eighth.  It sucks to be taken out because of someone else’s mistake.  It just sucks because it looks like we were running back there when we got taken out.  We shouldn’t have been back there though, but we were, along with all those other good cars, because we pitted with everyone.  I’m excited about my performance.  We were running all day with the best drivers in the series.  We were right there with  McFarland.  We were faster than (eventual race winner) Clay (Rogers).  To come here and be that competitive means a lot to me and my crew.  It was an extremely good weekend for us though.