Xpress Motorsports No. 61 IWX Motor Freight Busch Series, Grand National Division Pontiac 610 Performance Rd., Mooresville, NC 28115 Let the Race Begin MOORESVILLE, N.C. (June 15, 1999) - The Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award is...
Xpress Motorsports No. 61 IWX Motor Freight Busch Series, Grand National Division Pontiac 610 Performance Rd., Mooresville, NC 28115
Let the Race Begin
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (June 15, 1999) - The Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award is one of the most coveted awards young NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division drivers can win. This year's rookie battle is shaping up to be an exciting contest between at least four drivers. Following the most recent race at South Boston (Va.), Tony Raines has a comfortable lead with 1,565 points. Adam Petty is second with 1,377, Hank Parker Jr. third with 1,199, with Tony Roper in fourth with 888. While this doesn't look very competitive, the system used to determine a winner has a way to close some of the gaps. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year campaign begins a critical second phase when the drivers take to the 2.45-mile road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) on June 27. The program rewards drivers based on actual points earned in each NASCAR Busch Series event. However, only the top-15 finishes for each driver are counted in the rookie contest. The race at South Boston was the 15th event for leading rookie candidates Raines and Petty. Beginning at Watkins Glen, those two drivers will start dropping poor finishes and keeping better results. This means that their gains in points will be less than Parker, Roper and the balance of the rookie field. Currently, based on average finishes, the positions would not change among the front four. Raines has an average finish of 20th, with Petty averaging 24th, Parker averaging 26th and Roper a 27th-place finish average. However, with driver's not only gaining points, but substituting finishes these numbers could change drastically over the second half of the season. That's exactly what Tony Roper, driver of the No. 61 IWX Motor Freight Pontiac, is hoping for. "I'm really happy with the way we're running," said the 34-year old Fair Grove, Mo. native. "I think our performance has been as good as any of the other guys overall. Unfortunately, we've just completed a disastrous string of races. "We had engine failure early in the races at New Hampshire and Nazareth resulting in two 43rd-place finishes," said Roper. "We had a tire get cut down on the first lap at Dover and crashed, meaning a 42nd-place finish there. "I can't wait to get past my 15th race so those three finishes will be replaced by better finishes which we've showed we're capable of," he continued. "I think the four of us are all doing really well and are capable of more strong finishes. It's going to be a matter of who can get those finishes and who can eliminate our bad days. I think it's going to be a great race throughout the second half of this year." Roper started the season as a mechanic at the Xpress Motorsport team shop. He was originally slated to drive in a very limited schedule alongside NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Derrike Cope. Roper assumed full-control of the ride after the fourth race of this season and will compete in the remaining events. He is coming off his career-best finish, an eighth in the event at South Boston. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year contest also has a second variable that will help determine the winner at the end of the year. Competition points from the driver's top-15 finishes will be added to points determined by a Rookie of the Year Panel. The Panel will award points to each driver based on the following three criteria: rookie's conduct with technical inspectors and NASCAR officials, rookie's conduct and awareness on the track, and rookie's personal appearance and relationship with the media. IWX Motor Freight is a Springfield, Mo. based trucking firm with a fleet of over 400 trucks. IWX serves 48 states and annually the trucks will log over 100 million miles. The company also has terminals in Columbus, Ind. and Kingman, Ariz.