LAKELAND, FLA. - Saturday night marked the beginning of the 2001 Hooters ProCup Series season with the running of the Naturally Fresh Foods 200 in the familiar confines of Lakeland's USA International Speedway. For Shane Huffman and Team ...
LAKELAND, FLA. - Saturday night marked the beginning of the 2001 Hooters ProCup Series season with the running of the Naturally Fresh Foods 200 in the familiar confines of Lakeland's USA International Speedway. For Shane Huffman and Team Johnsonville Racing, that not only meant the debut of a new paint scheme for the #84 Ford Taurus, but also the start of their alliance with the XTRA Motorsports team, based in Hickory, N.C. The group known as "The Brat Bunch" did not disappoint, bringing home a solid fourth place finish after running just off the lead for the majority of the evening.
"I can't think of a much better way to start off the season," beamed Shane after the race, "Our goal coming into tonight was a top ten finish and a car with four fenders on it. We finished fourth and the car doesn't have a scratch on it."
Huffman took the green flag from an eighth place qualifying position and held his ground in the top ten until a lap 62 caution period brought the majority of the lead lap cars in for scheduled pit stops. The lap 71 restart found the Hickory, N.C. driver sitting in the third position, but a quick caution flag, for an accident on lap 76, gave new crew chief Ronnie White and "The Brat Bunch" the opportunity they needed to get Huffman on pit road for service.
"We didn't want to gamble on fuel mileage, so we needed to make it to lap 75 before pitting," said White, "It ended up working out for us, because some of those cars that pitted earlier were back in the pack and got caught up in the accident."
After exiting the pits in eighteenth place, Huffman wasted little time in marching towards the front after the lap 84 restart, using the high side of the racetrack to work traffic, and showed in the twelfth position when the yellow waved for the fifth time on lap 100. After the remaining leaders chose to finally pit, Huffman held the fifth spot when the race went green again on lap 107 and, continuing his charge, had moved up to third by lap 119. The driver known as the "Hickory Hotshoe" remained there for the next 80 laps, before ultimately coming home in the fourth place finishing position.
"We needed a little bit more to have a shot at (Bobby Gill) or (Jeff Agnew) at the end, but this definitely gives us something to build on," said Shane, "It sure is nice to be complaining about a fourth place finish."