Pro-Lite driver Rick Huseman gaining valuable experience during 2001 season Avon, Ind. (September 17, 2001)--Pro-Lite driver Rick Huseman knew he could compete with the top drivers in the Pro-Lite division. In 2001, he was given the opportunity...
Pro-Lite driver Rick Huseman gaining valuable experience during 2001 season
Avon, Ind. (September 17, 2001)--Pro-Lite driver Rick Huseman knew he could compete with the top drivers in the Pro-Lite division. In 2001, he was given the opportunity to race all 16 rounds of the CORR EXXON Superflo Pro Series, and it has paid dividends. Backed by a sponsorship with Fabtech Motorsports, the Riverside, California driver is having the best season of his young racing career. Not only is Huseman competing in his first full season, this is the first time he is contending for a championship. After 14 rounds, he trails Pro-Lite points leader Jeff Kincaid by 13 points, 185 to 172.
"At the beginning of the year I was going to be happy with a top-five finish because we were having such a bad start," said Huseman.
In the first half of the season, Huseman was plagued by bad luck. At the start of several races, his Fabtech Ford moved to the front quickly, leaving the rest of the field behind. With a huge lead over several drivers, all of a sudden Huseman would slow down or pull of the track. Huseman admitted that his team knew it would take a few rounds of competitive racing to work out some of the "bugs".
"We knew we had a fast truck, but we had to keep it together," he said.
The transition for Huseman took place following the BOSS Snowplow Off-Road Challenge in Bark River, Mich. To help cool the engine, his team placed a larger oil cooler in his Ranger. That choice proved to be one of his best decisions this year. Since that time, Huseman moved from eighth to second place in the standings. In his last seven starts, Huseman has five victories, including a sweep at the BorgWarner World Championships in Crandon, Wis.
Huseman fought to the top of the field even though he earned one point in two rounds (Round 8-Scratch, and Round 10-DNF). The disappointment of those two rounds did not hinder his charge toward second place.
Huseman admits that he is not the type of driver who is easily angered.
"I knew we could do it (move toward the top of the field)," Huseman said. "It was a matter of time, so there was no reason to get frustrated about it."
In Tour 2000, Huseman's abbreviated schedule included 10 starts and two victories. Juggling a career as an Auto Technician at Fritts Ford in Riverside, Calif. and traveling to the Midwest to compete in the CORR EXXON Superflo Series certainly hindered his 2000 season. This season, Fritts Ford `sponsored' Huseman by allowing him to take a four-month leave of absence to concentrate on racing.
By being able to focus exclusively on racing in 2001, Huseman and his team, which includes his older brother Dan Huseman (Crew Chief) have gained valuable experience over the course of the year. The skill of working on and setting up an off-road race truck in several elements takes time. According to Huseman, it takes experience to get everything just right.
It took several years of intense racing experience for current Championship Off-Road Racing veterans to win their first championships. Huseman's patience may be his best ally as a driver. He has not been racing long, and with every race, his understanding of off-road racing has grown.
What will Huseman have to do in order to win the 2001 Pro-Lite championship in Topeka, Kansas this weekend? With the top-five drivers still battling, and Tour 2000 champion Jeff Kincaid in the lead, there is no doubt he has to finish at the top. Winning both races will make the task easier.
With five wins in the most competitive Pro division (6 different winners in 14 rounds) Huseman leads all Pro-Lite drivers in victories this year. If his Fabtech Ford continues to perform as it has in the last seven rounds, Huseman will be one of the favorites to close in on Kincaid for the 2001 championship.
If he should not win the 2001 championship, he will not be disappointed. He will be grateful for the opportunity Fabtech gave him to compete the entire season.
"If it wasn't for them (Fabtech), there is no way I could be racing the whole season," Huseman said.
The finale of the 2001 CORR EXXON Superflo Series will take place September 22-23 at Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, Kansas. For ticket information, call 1-800-437-2237 or visit www.hpt.com.