Hawkins Hopes For Home State Victory In USAR Title Event At South Georgia Motorsports Park
As a native of Canton, GA, Matt Hawkins is pretty familiar with race tracks in his home state. The driver of the No. 2 H&H Electric Ford Fusion hopes that familiarity will pay off when he takes to the South Georgia Motorsports Park oval for the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Dan Duncan Memorial 250 this Saturday evening.
"I've raced there quite a bit," said Hawkins. "South Georgia is pretty flat, one groove wide most of the time, and not really that fast. It is still pretty tricky. You have to get your car to turn. You're lucky if you can make your car loose there. If you can get a car to turn there, you are going to have a good night regardless of where you qualify."
Hawkins is coming off his best run in the three previous USAR championship events rolling to an eighth-place finish in the Mark Brooks Memorial 250 at Myrtle Beach (SC) Speedway two weeks ago.
"We definitely wanted to finish better -- you always want to win - but we got a Top-10 and we finished the race," said Hawkins of the Myrtle Beach effort. "We drove from 30th to 13th before we finally had a caution flag. We came in and got four tires and a little bit into the next run, a car got sideways in front of me and I really had to stand on the brakes to miss him. That also put us back in the field quite a bit and I really had to abuse the tires to get back into the Top-10. Once I got there, I was pretty much out of tires and I had to settle for what we had."
Much of the 2007 USAR season has been a learning experience for the 19-year-old rookie driver. After winning the season-opening USAR Hooters Pro Cup event at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, FL, the young driver has grown his abilities both in driving the car and knowing what it wants during a race.
"I've gotten much more confident about making changes on the car during the race," said Hawkins. "Having Mike (USAR teammate and crew chief Mike Garvey) around the shop all year has taught me a lot, but during the race, Mike's in his car and I'm on my own. I feel like I've made some good calls from the seat this year, I think I know what the car needs. But I also know having someone like Mike on the pit box for me would be a big help. That's why I am really looking forward to next year when he's up there for me at every race."
Hawkins will be looking to ride the momentum of the Top-10 effort at Myrtle Beach into Saturday's event at South Georgia Motorsports Park. According to the young driver, a victory at SGMP isn't out of the question.
"We go to the track each week thinking we can win the race," said Hawkins. "South Georgia will be no different. We just need to put together a full weekend -- practice and qualifying well -- and then go out and run a solid race with no mistakes. If we can do that, there's no reason why we can't win."
Hawkins will take the green flag in the Dan Duncan Memorial 250 at South Georgia Motorsports Park on Saturday, October 20. The 250-lap event at the gleaming half-mile SGMP facility will roll off at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.