IT'S SHOTIME!!! WELL, NOT FOR FRANK IN 2005 by Mike Twist
Pro Cupper Swaps Rides In Surprise Announcement
The 2005 USAR Hooters Pro Cup cars haven’t even turned a lap in competition yet and the tour’s silly season has begun.
Southern Division Rookie of the Year contender A.J Frank announced at Saturday night's rookie and media appreciation dinner in Charlotte, NC that he will leave the ShoTime Motorsports team to instead run a second car to 2004 Pro Cup Series champion Clay Rogers and his car owners, Troy Baird and Johnny Dangerfield, and their East Coast Motorsports team.
Frank had already announced that he would be driving for the ShoTime Motorsports in 2005, but parted ways with that team to make plans to team with Rogers.
“This opportunity came my way and I needed to look out for myself and my career,” said Frank. “I have a little girl and I need to make a living doing this. It was a tough decision to make.”
AJ Frank will be headed in a new direction in 2005. (51 Photo)
The arrangement is so new, that Frank doesn’t even have any cars to work on yet.
“We just put this together last week,” said Frank. “We are shopping around for cars to get ready, but we have the people for the team ready to go. There are a couple of good cars out there that we have our eyes on right now and should have everything in place real soon.”
In 2004, Frank ran a limited schedule of NASCAR Southeast Series competition with his own team before dipping his toes into the Pro Cup pool with ShoTime Motorsports. The combination was quick off the bat. In their first and only start together of 2004, Frank qualified fourth and finished fifth at Adirondack. On paper, it looked like a good pairing, but Frank said that things weren’t quite fitting right in the off season.
“We had a good run off the bat last year, but it wasn’t really coming together like we planned,” said Frank. “There was a lack of team chemistry. This deal was a lot more attractive to me.
Frank wheeled the #66s for ShoTime Motorsports to a fifth-place finish at Adirondack in his only start for the team in 2004. (Horne Photo)
“I hope that there are no hard feelings. As far as I know there aren’t any. They always told me that anytime I had an opportunity, to entertain it. That’s what I did.”
This might prove to be a decision that works out well for both parties in the long run. Speed51.com contacted ShoTime Motorsports for this story and found out that they are moving full speed ahead with their plans for 2005. On Monday afternoon, team representatives were in meetings to finalize their plans for the season and hope to be able to talk about those plans later in the week. Speed51.com will follow these developments closely and report them as soon as details become available.
It seems that Frank joining the East Coast Motorsports team is a logical step for him to make. He is close friends with Rogers and his car owners and spent much of the 2004 season helping out their operation. He even served as Rogers’ spotter in the Four Champions Championship Series portion of the Pro Cup season.
“I think that I only missed two Pro Cup races all year,” said Frank. “My number one goal in racing is to drive, but last year when I wasn’t racing, I volunteered to help out Clay and the team. We all have a pretty healthy relationship. Troy and Johnny aren’t just owners, they are racers. They don’t go to the track half-assed.
Frank will now run a team car to the #44 of Clay Rogers. (51 Photo)
“This is going to be an excellent year for the series,” said Frank. “I know a lot of the Rookie of the Year contenders – Chase [Pistone] and [Michael] Faulk will be tough, but I honestly think that Steve Wallace is going to be the major competition for us all. He has been on a roll as of late and he’s got the right people behind him. But, I’ve raced against a lot of fierce competitors in the Southeast Series, so I’m used to that. We’ll just do our best and let the Rookie of the Year deal fall where it does.”
The USAR Pro Cup Southern division season kicks off at USA International Speedway (FL) on February 26th.