Eleven USARacing Pro Cup Series drivers participated in a test session today at Historic North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway in preparation for the October 3 Brushy Mountain 250.
While all the teams were busy learning how to mange tire wear on the .625-mile speedway, two drivers were particularly attentive to every detail: Clay Rogers and Logan Ruffin. Rogers leads Caleb Holman by 34 points in the battle for the series championship. Ruffin, meanwhile, is leading the battle for Raybestos®
Rookie of the Year – and seeking respect from his fellow competitors.
Another series title would be Rogers’ fourth and tie him with Bobby Gill for most championship in Pro Cup Series history.
“For me it would be big,” Rogers said. “It’d be my fourth championship and that would tie me with Bobby Gill with four championships and that’s a pretty elite group to be in with guys like him. Nobody’s got five so I’m happy with four,” Rogers said with a smile.
Not smiling is second-place Holman, who knows the only way to win the championship is to beat Rogers – and that means winning races.
“If we don’t win he’s going to,” Holman said. “That’s the bottom line, that’s all there is to it. This is his kind of racetrack and we’ve just got to beat him. We’re going to have to outrun Clay and he’s probably going to finish second if we wins. I feel like we’re probably the best two in the series right now as far as race teams. If we don’t win I feel like he’s going to be right there and at least finish top two or three. That’s what it’s going to take.”
After a half-day of track time, Rogers had a clear understanding of what it was going to take to be successful at Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway.
“It’s all going to be about tire conservation,” Rogers said. “You’re going to see a lot of people sitting back and riding. It’ll be similar to our races that we have at Myrtle Beach. In our case we’ll have to go hard for the first few laps and try to get bonus points for leading a lap and then after that we go into conservation mode and start backing out early and not spinning the tires up off. Right now everybody is looking for speed but consistency is what it’s going to be all about. Whoeve r is going to have the fresher tires at the end of the race is going to be the one to beat.”
While Rogers and Holman are locked in a battle for the series crown, Logan Ruffin is trying to earn respect, win races and take home the Raybestos® Rookie of the Year award.
“I’ve been fighting that since I was 13 years old my first time that I ran late models,” the 16-year driver said. “If you can race around the guys that have been doing it for years and years, don’t wreck ‘em and rough ‘em up, drive with ‘em and be clean, be smooth, finish the races and if you finish well then you start catching their attention to say this is a kind that we can go race with. And that’s been my goal since I started running the late model or even the Pro Cup cars. Guys like Jeff Agnew, J.P. Morgan, Clay Rogers and Benny Gordon, you have to gain their respect. These are all guys who have been doing this for a long time, much longer than I have, an d I’ve had to go out and prove that I’m not going to come up behind you and just wreck you. I’m going to race you clean, I’m going to do the best I can.”
Ruffin said that capturing top rookie honors in the series was a primary objective for the team since the start of the 2010 season.
“That was our goal going into the season and that’s what my team owner Steve Turner told me, that his goal this season was for us so we’re going to try to get it,” Ruffin said. “It would mean a lot. This is the first time in a long time that I’ve run a whole season of something in the same series. Like my last years in late model everybody was telling me that ‘We don’t want you to go out and run for a championship. We want you to go run the biggest, fastest racetracks that you can and get as much experience as you can.’ So I went from running an ASA car to a PASS car to a CRA car to running a local track car once in a while. But this is the first time that I’ve been in something racing for points. I think it’d be really neat to go out and be able to say that we finished this whole season and we won the championship or Raybestos® Rookie of the Year or both.”
The USAR Pro Cup Series, formerly Hooters Pro Cup, is owned by Interstate Investment Group (IIG) and is based in Concord, N.C. For more information on USARacing, visit www.usarprocup.com.