HUFFMAN GRABS GOLD IN “BIGGEST WIN OF MY LIFE” by Jeremy Troiano
Clay Rogers Falls Short In Green-White-Checker Finish
Bristol Motor Speedway is in a league of its own when it comes to race tracks. As a Nextel Cup Series driver recently said, it’s like racing’s Roman Coliseum. And that made Wednesday night’s USAR ProCup Series debut at Bristol the “Olympics” of the ProCup season.
“We were good. We were real good. We really never did how our hand until about 15 to go. It was just a tribute to my guys. They battled back from adversity all day.
“Since we were at the rear of the field, we were going to pit on the first caution anyway no matter what lap it fell on. That worked out well. After that, everything went our way.”
Huffman also had to deal with some significant right front damage that he got when a caution came out early and he got into the back of George Brunnhoelzl III.
“I didn’t know how bad the damage was. There was a caution and he checked up really quick. I was planning to pass high and when he did, I had already committed and I got into him pretty good.”
Silver medal winner Rogers had an interesting day as well. After crashing hard in practice and working all day to get the car fixed and eventually qualifying third, Clay was right in the middle of the action all night.
Early in the race, Bobby Gill was setting a torrid pace with Rogers following close. Gill came up to lap Bud Kenny, and after several failed attempts, they got together. Rogers couldn’t slow his car and got into the back of Bobby. Bobby then got nailed by Matt Carter, putting him out of the race.
And Shane Huffman won the gold Wednesday night.
“This is the biggest win of my career by far,” said Huffman. “I can’t even explain what it is like to win here. I’ve seen a lot of guys pull up the ramp to Victory Lane and I won’t lie, I wanted to be one of them. To get to do that was one of the biggest trips of my racing career. You just can’t explain the atmosphere here.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I never raced here. I’ve been up here hundreds of times and watched races. All I knew to expect was from watching those races.
“I had a good feeling this morning and usually my feelings are right. Thankfully, it didn’t let me down.”
Huffman did it in one of the most difficult ways too. After qualifying for the pole, Huffman and his team had to work on their car when their exhaust was dragging, forcing him to go to the back of the pack before the green. So not only did Huffman work his way through the 36-car field, he also had to hold off rival and Southern Division points leader Clay Rogers in a green-white-checker showdown for the win.
Shane Huffman got the big win on Wednesday night at Bristol. (51 Photo)
“The 13 car wasn’t a lap down yet, but we were underneath him a few times and he just came down on us,” said Gill. “I got him sideway and we were alright at that point but Clay came in there and we spun out and after that, everything went to hell.
“We had the car to win the race. We were just taking our time. It just wasn’t meant to be. Stuff just happens here. We can’t blame it on anyone. It is just Bristol.”
“We were coming through that lapped traffic and that guy (Kenny) chopped Bobby three times in a row,” said Rogers. “Bobby had a good run on the guy and he just turned dead left. Bobby got crossed up and I stood on the breaks hard and I just couldn’t stop. There is no one I’d like to run into less than Bobby Gill. I hate that. That is Bristol I guess.”
A late race caution set up the green-white-checker duel between race-leader Huffman and Rogers. The two have had several run-ins during the season and that was in the back of Huffman’s mind.
In the end though, Rogers didn’t have anything for Huffman during the two lap shootout.
“I don’t know what happened to the car at the end,” said Rogers. “I don’t know if we had a shock going bad. Everything on the front end is bent. There is no telling if something worked its way loose. I have to commend my guys. They worked there butts off today. I wanted to win more than anything in the world, especially with the way the points will work out.”
Michael Ritch came from his 15th-place starting spot to grab the Bronze Medal, followed by rookies Matt Carter and Brad Rogers, who finished fourth and fifth, just out of medal contention.
Shane Huffman's #84
Huffman called it the biggest wins of his career.
Bobby Gill (#06) and Clay Rogers (#44) were two of the best cars early in the race.
“If he would have given me a shot... you know, I did it to him earlier this year,” said Huffman. “I was prepared for it if he gave us a shot. I think that we would have held him off even if he would have given us a shot.”