Gill, Ward Formally Accept Titles; Others Honored at Pro Cup Award Banquet Myrtle Beach, S.C.--The final touches were put on the 2007 Hooters Pro Cup season on Saturday night, Jan. 12 at the Myrtle Beach Marriot Resort at Grande Dunes in Myrtle...
Gill, Ward Formally Accept Titles; Others Honored at Pro Cup Award Banquet
Myrtle Beach, S.C.--The final touches were put on the 2007 Hooters Pro Cup season on Saturday night, Jan. 12 at the Myrtle Beach Marriot Resort at Grande Dunes in Myrtle Beach, S.C. And for the fourth time in his career, Bobby Gill was the man of the evening.
Gill, driver of the No. 06s USG Sheetrock Brand Ford, finished the season with three wins, 544 laps led and $226,100 in winnings en route to his first title since the 2001 season. Not usually a man of many words, Gill spoke eloquently during his fourth acceptance speech.
"Most of ya'll know this is not something I'm good at," said Gill, who nearly surpassed $2 million in career earnings with his fourth title. "I didn't think I'd get to do this again. I figured I'd be working for one of the Rogers boys by now. But, heck, they both worked with me this year. I have to thank Jamie and Jim Mosley and USG Sheetrock for the opportunity to drive their car. Most of you probably don't know Jim because he was usually the guy leaving the race track after I qualified in the back. We had a good year, but we probably should have won a few more races. We're already working hard for next season."
But Gill wasn't the only one from the Lamb & Robinson Racing to walk away with post-season accolades. Gill's crew chief, Jamie Mosley, was named the Crew Chief of the Year.
"Bob, you sure do make me look good," said Mosley, who received, courtesy of Sears Auto Center, a Craftsman 11-drawer, roll-away tool chest loaded with a 263 pc. mechanics tool set, valued at over $1,000. "I just want to know if you voted for me, Bobby? We made the decision a few years ago to get Bobby Gill and he's been great. But as good as Bobby Gill is, we could not do this without the crew. They gave us a great car every week, and they're true champions."
In addition to the Crew Chief of the Year Award, Mosley also accepted the Car Owner of the Year Award on behalf of his father, James Sr.
Rookie Brandon Ward, driver of the No. 93s SupplyOne Ford, picked up the overall Miller Lite Rookie of the Year title and finished the year with $40,000 in rookie bonuses. Not a bad payday for a driver who didn't have a ride a week before the season began.
"I wasn't even supposed to be here," said Ward. "We started out the season in the Whelen Modified Series. I think it was three or four days before the start of the Pro Cup season when [team owner] Randy Humphrey called me and said, 'I want to talk to you about driving my racecar, and I need to see you today.' I met with Randy that night and we put together a deal. I can't thank Randy and Stacy [Humphrey] enough for the opportunity and SupplyOne for stepping up to support us.
"The rookie class this year was tough. Ben Stancill, Matt Hawkins, Richard Boswell and all the other rookies made this hard to win. Crew chief Robert Huffman means so much to me and this entire team. With him being a former champion and driver himself, it makes it easy for him to guide us. Everybody on this team worked so hard and I don't think I've ever had so much fun in racing."
Ward also picked up the SPEED51.com Most Popular Driver Award by edging out Jody Lavender and rookie James Buescher. Ward received a one-of-a-kind, specially made print from 51 Sports and Speed51.com. He also will get his choice of a free t-shirt design or free website design through Speed51.com's parent company, 51 Sports.
Trevor Bayne, driver of the No. 29s Strutmasters.com/Chevy Racing Chevrolet, also had a fun-filled season. Despite coming up short of the overall title, Bayne picked up two wins, seven top-five finishes and finished the year with $115,800 in winnings. His point finish was the highest ever by a 16-year-old driver.
"I knew exactly what I was going to say until I got up here," said Bayne. "But we really had a great season. There are not enough words to say how thankful I am for the guys that work on our team. I also want to thank all the drivers that really gave me the respect this year that I wanted. And Bobby Gill got his Lasik eye surgery this year, so we didn't have any problems with him at Bristol. My crew chief, Keith Hinkein, came on about halfway through the year and I don't think we finished outside the top three once he got here. That says a lot about him. I really hope we get the opportunity to come back here and run next year. But if not, I'm really going to miss everybody in the series."
While most of the recipients knew they would be recognized, two of the most prestigious awards were big surprises.
Keith Dorton, owner of Automotive Specialists, was given the Humanitarian of the Year Award for his tireless work in pursuit of a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.
"This is a big surprise," said Dorton, who also picked up the Comp Cams Engine Builder of the Year Award. "Everybody out there really deserves this because they all supported me in my fund raising. It really means a great deal to me and my family. And we hope to continue it on for many years."
Matt Carter, driver of the No. 26n Travis Carter Motorsports Ford, was also a surprise winner. Carter received the prestigious Robert H. Brooks Four Champions Award. The award recognizes the driver that does the most with the least and exudes a winning attitude, regardless of the situation. And that's exactly what Carter did during 2007 season.
With one car and one motor, Carter ran up front all season, picked up his first Pro Cup win and finished eighth in the final standings.
"I'm speechless," said Carter, who picked up nearly $12,000 in Awards from Five Star Bodies, BFGoodrich Tires, Brodix, Heintz Performance, Quarter Master, Eibach Springs, Auto Meter, Hawk Brakes and Brown and Miller. "I have to thank my mom and dad because I wouldn't be up here without them. My crew chief, Jimmy King, isn't here tonight because I couldn't get him to put a tuxedo on, but him and the King family have helped me a lot. I'm shocked, and I don't know what to say, but thank you Hooters and USAR for all you do. This is a great series to be a part of."
Ben Stancill, driver of the No. 9n Stancill Farms Ford, picked up a new Leavitt chassis for winning the inaugural Leavitt Chassis Championship Series Hard Charger Award. Stancill passed 38 cars during the Championship Series to claim the $9,000 chassis.
But the man of the night was Gill, and two of his longtime rivals summed it up best.
"It seems like every year we're chasing Bobby Gill," said Mike Garvey, who finished fourth in points. "I thought I had you at South Georgia. But I screwed up, and you just kept on going. We've not always got along. I guess when you get two hard heads together they don't mix too well. But there's no better racer than Bobby Gill."
Sears Auto Center Northern Division Champion Gary St. Amant agreed.
"I want to congratulate Bobby Gill," said St. Amant, driver of the No. 7n JEGS.com/Speedco Chevrolet. "It was only about 10 years ago that I wanted to kill him. Now I'm one of his good friends. That just shows the comradery in this series. I've been here for four years, and each year the competitors grow closer. I can't think of a better example than Bobby Gill. He's become, well, I won't say a nice guy, but a lot nicer guy."