USAR: Salem: 2005 season news 2005-08-02

2005: Record Cars and Crowds Hooters Pro Cup season already one for the record books Longs, SC-Neither division of the Hooters Pro Cup Series has yet to crown regular-season champs, and the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year race in both divisions...

2005: Record Cars and Crowds

Hooters Pro Cup season already one for the record books

Longs, SC-Neither division of the Hooters Pro Cup Series has yet to crown regular-season champs, and the Miller Lite Rookie of the Year race in both divisions is still up for grabs.

The five-race Championship Series, which determines the overall Hooters Pro Cup Series champion and Miller Lite Rookie of the Year, is still two months away. But even with so many yet-to-be-determined outcomes, there is one conclusion that can be made about the 2005 Hooters Pro Cup season: it's the best one ever!

Last month, Brett Butler became the 173rd driver to register for competition in the Hooters Pro Cup Series, breaking the record set in 2001 of 171 drivers. Today, 179 drivers are registered.

"We thought this season had all the makings of breakthrough year," said Tony Cox, USAR series director. "Bob Brooks [Hooters of America, Inc., president] created this series to give racers of varying backgrounds at chance to compete in a quality-run, national touring series. And I believe that his vision has become a reality this season."

More impressive is the fact that through 18 races, 134 different drivers have attempted to qualify for a Pro Cup event and 122 have competed in at least one race.

"That is exactly what the intentions of the series were when we started," said Cox. "Some guys don't have the budgets to compete in every race, and we know that. By allowing drivers to compete in half the races and still qualify for the Championship Series, we've opened up the window of opportunity to wider range of competitors."

And with the influx of teams, the competition level has also been raised. Through 21 races, the Hooters Pro Cup Series has seen 10 different drivers visit victory lane and 34 different drivers have led laps.

This may come as a surprise to those who thought the high-profile teams owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Rusty Wallace, Tony Stewart, Jimmy Spencer and Michael Waltrip would ruin competition, but not to most Pro Cup drivers.

"It definitely helps the recognition of the series to have the guys with [NEXTEL] Cup ties racing with us," said Shane Huffman, who boasts a series-high six wins. "As far as them ruining competition, [most of us] weren't worried about that. [Pro Cup] races aren't like races in other series. You don't have cars that are so technically-dependent and aero-sensitive. You have to drive these cars.

"The new teams have raised the competition level. And anytime the competition level goes up, it makes you a better driver. The Hooters Pro Cup Series is the premier series out there right now. The racing has improved, and I believe that's why we're seeing the crowds get bigger each year."

To date, Hooters Pro Cup attendance has increased 7% over last year's figures, making the 2005 season the biggest, as well as the best, season in the Pro Cup annals.

-usar-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Jimmy Spencer , Shane Huffman , Brett Butler