Salem, IN (November 1, 2003) -- Louisville, Kentucky's Chuck Barnes Jr. ended the 2003 season as the Sunoco Super Series Hubler Automotive Group / Blake Carburetion Rookie Of The Year, but it wasn't an easy road to win that award, and he needed a...
Salem, IN (November 1, 2003) -- Louisville, Kentucky's Chuck Barnes Jr. ended the 2003 season as the Sunoco Super Series Hubler Automotive Group / Blake Carburetion Rookie Of The Year, but it wasn't an easy road to win that award, and he needed a lot of support along the way. The 21 year olds family furnished the support he needed to overcome several obstacles including a streak of bad luck to get the rookie award and to finish 8th in 2003 Sunoco Super Series Championship Points.
Barnes started off the 2003 season with the hope of some good early results that would convince his mom and dad to let him race the entire season and compete for the series rookie of the year award. After the first half of the season Barnes found himself in first place in rookie points and in the top ten in series points with some good early season results including a 3rd place finish at Mt. Lawn Speedway, and a 13th place finish at Berlin Raceway after qualifying 4th in his first ever visit to the tricky 7/16's mile oval. He also got a 13th place finish at Winchester Speedway and a 17th place finish at Mansfield Speedway. Barnes lost a motor on the July 4th at Angola Motor Speedway but came back with a 7th place finish in the Anderson 400, coming back after losing several laps with a broken drive shaft. Barnes then got his second top five finish of the season at Toledo Speedway.
That's when his luck really started to go the wrong way. Barnes had built a lead of over 150 points in the rookie of the year battle over Terry Fisher Jr. and Tom Hernly Jr. Barnes got into an early accident not of his making that eventually cost the team it's second motor of the season at Shady Bowl Speedway. Barnes got crashed when a fellow competitor spun into him at Indianapolis Raceway Park, which resulted in a bad finish, which was followed by another bad finish at Baer Field Speedway when he lost his brakes. Brakes were an issue again at Angola Motor Speedway, he got collected in a Junior Hanley spin at Columbus Motor Speedway and a leaking oil tank cost him a good finish at Anderson Speedway. Tom Hernly Jr.had also started his streak of good finishes that would bring him into within one point of Barnes in the rookie title chase with two series races left in the 2003 season. Terry Fisher Jr. had also got within striking distance of both Barnes and Hernly with steady consistent runs.
"At that point in the season, I was ready to through in the towel," remarked Barnes. "I just couldn't believe how our season had changed and gone so wrong. There just didn't seem to be anyway I could get that monkey off my back to win the rookie title, but my parents weren't going to let that happen. My mom and dad had put a lot of time and money into the season already, they weren't going to let me just quit, after all I still hadn't given up the lead in the rookie points!"
The Barnes Auto Service Racing Team headed to Rockford Speedway with the intention of still being in contention for the rookie title after that race, because they felt they would have an advantage over Hernly Jr. and Terry Fisher Jr. in the series point's championship event at Winchester Speedway. Barnes mission at Rockford Speedway did not start out good. He qualified 21st, only the top 20 were locked into the feature event. Tom Hernly Jr. qualified in the 20th position, which locked him into the feature event. Barnes and Terry Fisher Jr. would have to make the show through the last chance race. Barnes started on the pole of the 25 lap last chance race and never looked back, he went on to win and Terry Fisher Jr. finished fourth resulting in both rookies making the show.
The last chance race victory proved to be what finally did get the monkey off Barnes's back. Fisher Jr. left the race on lap 104 after heavy contact with the outside retaining wall. Hernly Jr., who at the time was on his way to another top ten finish, saw his day end on lap 222 with ignition problems. Barnes went on to finish ninth extending his rookie title lead to over 20 points with the one race left at Winchester Speedway.
Barnes started things off right at Winchester Speedway, he gained valuable points by qualifying 4th for the Car Brite 400. He then had the advantage over his counterparts of running up front with the leaders through out the event. Fisher Jr. saw his hopes of winning the rookie title go away on lap 163 when his day ended with suspension problems. Hernly also had problems spending several laps in the pits, which resulted in an 11th place finish. Barnes was running in the top five late in the event when an axle broke. Barnes still nursed the car to the end getting a 6th place finish and the 2003 Hubler Automotive Group / Bale Carburetion Rookie Of The Year Award.
"I have to thank my parents for all their support this season and through out my entire racing career to date," commented Barnes. "I also want to thank my crew who put in a lot of hours working and traveling this season. My mom and dad were my main sponsor this season, but I want to thank Gladiator GarageWorks, Clifty Farm Country Hams, and Cintas Uniforms for their support also, with out them, I wouldn't have been able do as good as we did this year. I also want to recognize Tom Hernly Jr. and Terry Fisher Jr. for doing a great job this year, it was the best rookie of the year battle the Sunoco Super Series has ever had!"
Barnes will officially be honored as the 2003 Hubler Automotive Group / Blake Carburetion Rookie Of The Year at the 2003 Sunoco Super Series Awards Banquet on January 17th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana. Barnes will receive the following money, products and product certificates from a large group of supports of the Sunoco Super Series Rookie Award Program: a $1000 bonus from the Hubler Automotive Group, a race ready carburetor from Blake Carburetion, an off-set late model body from Five-Star Racecar Bodies, a racing uniform from Hincheman Racing Uniforms, a web site design from Motorsports Image 1, a set of restraint belts from Impact Racing, a $350 Product Certificate from Midwest Speed, a $200 Product Certificate from Pro/Cam Engine Components, a $200 Product Certificate from RJS Racing Equipment, a $200 Product Certificate from Dynatech Headers, a $100 Product Certificate from Performance Friction, a $100 Product Certificate from AFCO, a $100 Product Certificate from Hawk Performance, a $100 Product Certificate from Pit Stop USA.com, a $100 Product Certificate from U.S. Brake, a $100 Product Certificate from Bassett Wheels, and $100 in Product from Ringers Gloves.