USAR: Northern Division top ten review/preview

Hooters Pro Cup Series Top-10 Northern Division 2005 Review/Preview Longs, SC-After what seemed like an eternal off-season for the Northern Division of the Hooters Pro Cup Series, the first race of the season is upon us with the running of the...

Hooters Pro Cup Series Top-10 Northern Division 2005 Review/Preview

Longs, SC-After what seemed like an eternal off-season for the Northern Division of the Hooters Pro Cup Series, the first race of the season is upon us with the running of the Greased Lightning 250 presented by Pepsi at South Boston Speedway on Sat., April 9 at 7 p.m.

With many Southern Division regulars moving to the Northern Division this season, along with a record number of registered teams, the Northern Division appears nearly as stout as the highly-touted Southern Division this year. While there are plenty of new faces, most of the top-10 finishers from the Northern Division regular season will be back.

Below is a 2004 Review/ 2005 Preview for the drivers who finished in the top 10 in regular season points in 2004.

1. Benny Gordon (No. 66 Predator Performance Ford)
Regular Season Avg. Finish: 5.5
Championship Series Point Finish: 2nd
Best Finish in 2004: 1st (Myrtle Beach (2), Mansfield, Motor Mile (2), South Boston, and Adirondack)

2004 Season Review
Benny Gordon was the hottest driver in the HPC Series during the regular season, picking up a series-high five wins. At Myrtle Beach Speedway, Gordon became the first Northern Division driver to win in the Southern Division since the HPC Series split into two divisions in 2001.

After his win at MBS, Gordon averaged a 2.5 finish the remainder of the regular season. If you take away Illiana, where Gordon ran out of gas after leading the most laps and finished ninth, the DuBois, Pa., driver averaged a 1.2 finish in the other five events. Gordon won two times in the Championship Series, but he also posted two DNFs, leaving him in second place at season's end.

2005 Preview
Look for good things out of Gordon again this season. He's back with his Predator Performance for another year, but they do have a new crew and some new cars. But don't fret Gordon fans.

The team will start the season with the 5-win car from last year until the new cars are ready to hit the track. Gordon is still reeling over losing the title last year, so look for him to make a statement early-and often.

2. Johnny Rumley (No. 8 Lucas Oil Chevy)
Regular Season Avg. Finish: 6.7
Championship Series Point Finish: 10th
Best Finish in 2004: 1st (Jennerstown)

2004 Season Review
If there were a two-lap dash for cash, Rumley would be the driver everybody picked. Rumley won eight poles in 12 races during the regular season, tying the record set by Shane Huffman in 2003.

Rumley was able to pick up his first Pro Cup win last season, but the Lucas Oil team struggled in the Championship Series and finished 10th in the overall standings.

2005 Preview
It wasn't like Rumley was a slug last season, but expect him to be better this season. His Boyd Sult Chevy should be a fixture at the front of the pack nearly every weekend and has the potential to find victory lane more times than it did last season.

3. Jeff Agnew (No. 73 NGA Hooters Golf Tour Chevrolet)
Regular Season Avg. Finish: 8.8
Championship Series Point Finish: 5th
Best Finish in 2004: 1st (Kil-Kare and Illiana)

2004 Season Review
Agnew was the class of the Northern Division field as many times as Gordon, but racing luck wasn't on his side during the regular season. In past seasons, Agnew's bad luck has come in the Championship Series. Agnew avoided that trend in '04, finishing fifth in the final standings.

2005 Preview
Agnew has recently purchased a chassis from Predator Performance equipped with a Ford powerplant. He will still keep his tried-and-true Chevy in the stable, but his two-manufacturer approach may make him a favorite to win the Northern Division title.

4. Mardy Lindley (No. 16 Hooters Air Ford)
Regular Season Avg. Finish: 9.9
Championship Series Point Finish: 11th
Best Finish in 2004: 1st (South Boston & Indianapolis Raceway Park)

2004 Season Review
Good News: Lindley won two of the first three races of the year. Bad News: Lindley averaged a 10.7 finish the remainder of the year. Lindley finished the season with a second-place run at Adirondack, but he dropped from second to fourth in points in the final five races. Lindley's string of bad luck followed him into the Championship Series, where he dropped to 11th place in points at the end of '04.

2005 Preview
Lindley's car will look the same this year, but that's about the only familiar site that will be in his pits this season. Lindley has teamed up with ShoTime Motorsports this season. Longtime crew chief Elvin Rector has moved over to the No. 73 Team of Jeff Agnew and Jimmy King will replace him on Lindley's team. It may take time for this new team to mesh, but Lindley should be able to find his way victory lane during the season.

5. Gary St. Amant (No. 11 JEGS.com Chevrolet)
Regular Season Avg. Finish: 8.4
Championship Series Point Finish: 8th
Best Finish: 1st (Lake Erie)

2004 Season Review
St. Amant's goals were to win the Northern Division Rookie of the Year and finish in the top five in points. Mission accomplished. But by winning at Lake Erie, St. Amant raised expectations on himself. St. Amant didn't return to victory lane the remainder of the season, but he thrust himself into title contention with a pair of solid runs in the Championship Series. Though he fell short of the overall and Miller Lite Rookie of the Year title, St. Amant's first Pro Cup season was an overwhelming triumph.

2005 Preview
This team has all the making to have a great season. Bullet Racing and St. Amant have secured enough funding from JEGS.com to push them into contender status. St. Amant is one of the better drivers around, and, with a year of experience under his belts, he should be again this year.

6. Danny Sammons (No. 97 HeartAttack Inc. Ford)
Regular Season Avg. Finish: 11.8
Championship Series Point Finish: 14th
Best Finish: 2nd (Salem)

2004 Season Review
Sammons made great strides in his driving in 2004, but the 20-year-old driver was plagued by engine failures, recording four DNFs. In the events Sammons was around at the end, he averaged a fifth-place finish.

2005 Preview
Sammons is no longer housed in the same shop as Clay Rogers, nor is he under the guidance of Bill Boger. After a disappointing season last year, Sammons has made a few changes on his team. This year, Jamie Campbell will start this season atop the pit box.

7. Joel Kauffman (No. 44 LA West Chevrolet)
Regular Season Avg. Finish: 10.1
Championship Series Point Finish: 24th
Best Finish: 1st (Salem)

2004 Season Review
For those who don't believe in the "sophomore slump," contact Joel Kauffman. With all the ingredients in place for a banner year, Kauffman was unable to move into contender status each week in 2004. The Mooresville, N.C., driver did join Danny O'Quinn Jr. as the youngest drivers since Brian Vickers to win a Pro Cup event when he won at Salem at 19-years-old. But after his win, Kauffman didn't finish inside the top five in the remaining seven races. Those struggles continued into the Championship Series as Kauffman dropped to 24th in the final standings.

2005 Preview
Like Sammons, a disappointing season made for an eventful off-season. Kauffman hired Barry Elvis to crew chief his efforts this season, replacing Timmy Kohuth. Elvis was the crew chief for Stuart Ricks during the 2004 season. There is no other driver in Pro Cup looking forward to 2005 more than Kauffman.

8. Glenn Gault (No. 32 American Title and Trust Chevrolet)
Regular Season Avg. Finish: 10.8
Championship Series Point Finish: 36th
Best Finish: 2nd (Mansfield)

2004 Season Review
Gault blistered through the middle portion of the season, recording two top-fives and four top 10s in five races and vaulting him to sixth in the Northern Division points. Unfortunately for Gault, he couldn't maintain the momentum in the final three races as he dropped to eighth in the final standings by posting three DNFs in a row. The bad luck only worsened during the Championship Series, and Gault dropped to 36th in the final standings.

2005 Preview
Gault may be looking forward to 2005 as much as Kauffman. If the "Orange Blossom" has been exorcized of all the demons that plagued his 2004 season, and Gault can bottle the few moments of brilliance from the 2004 season, the veteran campaigner could pick up his first victory in 2005.

9. Brian Ross (No. 68 Ford)
Regular Season Avg. Finish: 12.4
Championship Series Point Finish: 25th
Best Finish: 3rd (Lonesome Pine)

2004 Season Review
Before leaving Odle, Ross posted three top-five finishes. After leaving Odle, Ross' best finish was a sixth at Illiana. The paring with Premiere Motorsports fizzled at the end of the regular season. Ross scored a ride with Odle Motorsports for the Championship Series and salvaged 25th in the final standing.

2005 Preview
Ross may make a few starts with Odle Motorsports during the year. Without backing, Ross will be absent from the majority of Northern Division races.

10. Joe Harrison Jr. (No. 57 KARNAC.com Chevrolet)
Regular Season Avg. Finish: 16.5
Championship Series Point Finish: 27th
Best Finish: 7th (Salem)

2004 Season Review
Harrison Jr. does the most with the least out of any team in the HPC Series. He travels light and tight, but he makes it to all the races. His making-the-most-of-the-least attitude garnered the veteran the "Four Champions Award" at the HPC Series banquet.

2005 Preview
The $300 per race bonus money this season for finishing in the top 10 in points will go a long way to helping Harrison Jr. keep going. He may not win, but he will be at every event.

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Clay Rogers , Brian Vickers , Brian Ross , Joel Kauffman , Danny O'Quinn , Shane Huffman , Johnny R , Jeff Agnew