USAR: 2005 Rookie field preview

Pro Cup Rookie Crop Could Be The Best Ever Charlotte, NC--Clay Rogers and Shane Huffman won Hooters Pro Cup titles. Jon Wood picked up two wins in the Craftsman Truck Series and is now heading to the Busch Series. Brian Vickers won a Busch title...

Pro Cup Rookie Crop Could Be The Best Ever

Charlotte, NC--Clay Rogers and Shane Huffman won Hooters Pro Cup titles. Jon Wood picked up two wins in the Craftsman Truck Series and is now heading to the Busch Series. Brian Vickers won a Busch title and is now in a NEXTEL Cup ride. What do they have in common?

They were all members of the Hooters Pro Cup Rookie Class of 2000, which many considered to be the best gathering of rookies in the history of the series.

But at the end of 2005, the newest generation of Pro Cup rookies could take the "best-ever" tag with them.

On Saturday night at the Hilton University Place in Charlotte, N.C., many of the 2005 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year candidates gathered at the inaugural "Miller Lite Rookie Reception" to discuss the upcoming season.

"This is shaping up to be a stout rookie class," said Tony Cox, USAR director of operations. "It's a good mix of drivers. We've got some drivers from Legends Cars, Late Models, Super Late Models and Sprint cars coming into the series this season. The size of the rookie class has a lot to do with the $90,000 that Miller Lite put into the rookie program for this season, but it also goes to show that racing against guys like Bobby Gill, Gary St. Amant and Shane Huffman is just as valuable an asset to a driver's development."

Rusty Wallace, the 1989 Winston Cup Champion and father of Pro Cup rookie, Steve Wallace, agrees.

"I think it's a neat deal that Miller Lite sponsors the rookie program," said Wallace. "I've been watching the Pro Cup Series for awhile. I love the cars, and the racing is great. Steve has been doing well lately, and I think this is a good move for his career. Plus, I know if he gets out of hand someone will kick his butt."

Though Steve Wallace was on a roll at the end of 2004, taking three UARA wins and the Snowball Derby crown, picking a clear favorite for the ROTY title in this talent-laden group is impossible. But A.J. Frank's announcement certainly pushed him towards the head of the class.

"I'm going to be driving for Johnny Dangerfield and Troy Baird as a teammate to Clay Rogers next season," said Frank, who spent four seasons the All-Pro Series. "It's a great opportunity for me, and I couldn't be happier."

While Frank will have the benefit of working with a championship team during his rookie run, many of the other candidates have made sure their teams have veteran leadership as well.

Michael Faulk, from MB3 Motorsports, will have help from the legendary Buzzy Reutimann, Andrew Rogers will have Bill Boger oversee his team, Chase Pistone will have Pro Cup veteran David Pletcher as his crew chief and Barry Dodson will tutor Steve Wallace.

With unlimited talent and veteran help, the "Class of 2005" could well be on its way to being the best Pro Cup has seen.

-usar-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Clay Rogers , Jon Wood , Brian Vickers , Michael Faulk , Shane Huffman , A.J. Frank , Steve Wallace