HIGH POINT, NC -- Let's get one thing clear right from the start. Tom Hubert has not given up his dreams of driving a stock car at NASCAR's highest competitive levels. His role for over a year as a versatile in-shop player in the rapid expansion...
HIGH POINT, NC -- Let's get one thing clear right from the start. Tom Hubert has not given up his dreams of driving a stock car at NASCAR's highest competitive levels. His role for over a year as a versatile in-shop player in the rapid expansion at Bill Davis Racing has not dampened his desire to find the right NASCAR Winston Cup or Busch Series situation in which to continue his driving career. Despite his considerable skills as a fabricator and mechanic, Hubert still considers himself a driver first. And maybe second, as well.
Neverthless, the contributions made by Hubert thus far toward the success of last year's limited Busch Series schedule with the #02 Siemens Pontiac for driver Ward Burton and this season's #20 Polaris Pontiac (also with Burton) represent only his official responsibilities as chief mechanic since joining BDR from Roehrig Motorsports last summer.
Over the past 60 days, Hubert has also joined Amoco Ultimate Team 93 on the road as an informal consultant to help Crew Chief Gil Martin and Dave Blaney with their fledgling Winston Cup Series effort. The observations made by Hubert and the close personality match he shares with the former World of Outlaws champion have helped the 2000 Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidate continue his acclimation with stock cars after 15 seasons of sprint car competition.
"Basically, I just want to help wherever I can--even if it's not driving--and especially because Dave Blaney is such a great guy and has made so much progress to this point" said Hubert, also a Mini World of Outlaws sprint car graduate with four series titles (and twice runner-up), 40 feature wins and 20 trophy-dash victories in six seasons (1989-94) in Red Bluff, CA.
"I know from my time in the driver's seat that the view from an extra set of eyes always helps. When I'm working with Dave and Gil at the track, I watch and try to see things that I don't hear them talk about, just as another opinion. I'm there strictly to see Dave Blaney move ahead as quickly as he can. Hopefully down the road, I'll get the same in return from someone."
Complimented with the help of #22 Caterpillar/Polaris Crew Chief Tom Baldwin, Jr. and his crew, Hubert has played a major role with Burton's spectacular limited NASCAR Busch Series efforts. In seven BGN starts since last June, Burton has four top-six starts (including a track-record pole position at Darlington in September) and five top-ten finishes, including a second at Dover (June), fourths at both Michigan and Darlington and a near-win in the 1999 BGN season-finale at Miami. The victory was squandered when then-leader Burton jumped the restart with less than five miles remaining, dropping to tenth in the final running order. At California last weekend, Burton crashed while leading brother Jeff and eventual-winner Matt Kenseth with seven laps remaining.
Hubert, who began his racing career a in 1982 in his native California, also served as a substitute for Blaney in the #93 Amoco Pontiac last June at South Boston (VA) Speedway, starting 27th and finishing 18th when Blaney was making his first WC start at BDR the same weekend at Michigan.
A Late Model and Street Stock graduate of Shasta (CA) Speedway, Hubert parlayed considerable success in the Featherlite Southwest Tour in the early 1990's into a limited Craftsman Truck Series schedule in 1997 and 1998, winning one pole and one outside pole position and posting three top-ten finishes in 10 NCTS starts, including a second at Sears Point in 1997 and a fifth at St. Louis in 1998. Hubert also finished second in his first Winston West start in 1998 at Las Vegas.
Hubert has been equally impressive in his limited Winston Cup opportunities, qualifying fourth at Las Vegas last spring in a Kurt Roehrig-owned entry. In his WC debut in May, 1997 at Sears Point, Hubert produced the 11th-fastest overall speed but finished 28th in the road-course race. In 1998 at Sears point, Hubert qualified 10th and had moved up to fourth in the running order with 35 laps remaining when a rear-end gear broke in his car. In the 1998 Bud at the Glen in Watkins Glen, N.Y., Hubert started 20th but ran as high as ninth before being sidelined by an accident.
"I moved to North Carolina in 1994 to better position myself for a better driving job and I'm not giving up that dream for anything," said Hubert. "All I need is a fair shot. Racing only 4-6 races over the past four years has been hard for me. Running one race a month or every other month doesn't give you much continuity or confidence. I still believe I can race here but just like so many guys, I need the right situation before anyone will notice."