Rollercoaster Ride Ends With a Joel Kauffman Top-10 in Pro Cup Opener The First Race with New Crew Chief Kohuth Gets a Passing Grade MOORESVILLE, NC (April 20, 2004) -- Joel Kauffman had a sly smile on his face when he left the USAR Hooters Pro...
Rollercoaster Ride Ends With a Joel Kauffman Top-10 in Pro Cup Opener
The First Race with New Crew Chief Kohuth Gets a Passing Grade
MOORESVILLE, NC (April 20, 2004) -- Joel Kauffman had a sly smile on his face when he left the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series Northern Division opener at South Boston Speedway (VA). That smile depicted a touch of disappointment with their opening night top-10 outcome and a hint of confidence for what lies ahead for this 18-year-old this season.
Kauffman qualified sixth and finished eighth on Saturday night, but more importantly, the team overcame several problems and Joel meshed well with his new crew chief, veteran NASCAR leader, Timmy Kohuth.
"We didn't have any problems last year and finished eighth at this race, so to overcome all of the little things that plagued us tonight and still get an eighth is awesome," said Kauffman, whose LA West Luxury Vehicles race team underwent a number of changes during the off season, including a move to North Carolina. "I thought the whole team worked well together. Timmy and I really worked well together, especially dealing with all of the little problems we had all night long. So to come out of here with a top 10 is pretty good. People have to remember that we just put this whole deal together about three weeks ago. We've come a long way in a short period of time. I don't see why we can't win every race we enter this year.
"It is great to have a guy like Timmy calling the shots. He has so many options for one simple thing. It is nice to come in and have a crew chief that knowledge. He just gave me all of the options we could do to fix one little problem and we would talk them over and get it narrowed down to one thing. That is very assuring as a driver; to know that you have that much confidence in your crew chief."
Kauffman, who is last year's Northern Division Rookie of the Year, played the patience game early in the race while competing in the top-5. He knew being there at the end is what mattered most.
"Early on, we were able to stay out of trouble and get up to third or fourth. We were just content to stay up there near the front. We were just a little loose, but as the race went on, the car really came to us. We just wanted to stay clean and keep the car under us. We came in and made some adjustments, went back out and we were picking spots off.
"Then, it got really interesting. We got into a bit of an accident there in three and four. I had nowhere to go. Two guys in front of me got together and we got hit from behind. That just put us behind the rest of the night.
"Between that damage and the flat tire we got later, the car stayed pretty good and consistent throughout the race. We are pretty pleased with what we got out of it."
It was also the youngster's first race utilizing with the new BFGoodrich radial tire, which is new to the Hooters Pro Cup Series this year.
"I think we had a real advantage to the tires," added Kauffman. "With the experience I have on them in the ASA Series and the time Timmy and our tire guy, Eric Palmeter, have working with them in the NASCAR ranks, we'll have an advantage. We can anticipate what the tires are going to do a little better than everyone else. That is just something else we can use to our advantage down the road."
Kauffman and the team are now off for a couple of weeks before heading to Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, VA on May 1st. Kauffman finished eighth at the track in 2003 in his first trip to the 3/8-mile track.
Kauffman and Team LA West Racing are competing for the Pro Cup Series championship in 2004.