USAR: Carter closing in on rookie title

Longs, SC - Being the son of a Nextel Cup owner, it's hard not to have expectations thrust upon you. And being a rookie driver for a ProCup bastion like Ricky Benton Racing only adds to the burden. But through all the surrounding hoopla, Matt ...

Longs, SC - Being the son of a Nextel Cup owner, it's hard not to have expectations thrust upon you. And being a rookie driver for a ProCup bastion like Ricky Benton Racing only adds to the burden.

But through all the surrounding hoopla, Matt Carter, driver of the No. 22s HeavyTruckDealers.com Ford, has remained even keel. Now, his steadiness could be rewarded, heavily. Carter, son of Nextel Cup owner Travis Carter, only needs to keep Gary St. Amant in sight at USA International to pick up $25,000 for being the overall 2004 Miller Lite Rookie of the Year.

"That's just kind of my personality," Carter said of his level demeanor. "I think I learned it from playing sports. You can be on top of the world one day and on the bottom the next day. I try not to get too worked up, and that helps me dealing with pressure situations."

And that has shown through in his rookie season.

The Denver, N.C., driver was the pre-season favorite to take top rookie honors in the Southern Division and was en route to the title until the season's mid-point, notching six top-five finishes in the first seven races.

But Carter's season went into a tailspin over the next four events.

Carter, son of Nextel Cup owner Travis Carter, averaged a 17.5 finish over the next four events and dropped from seventh to 11th in points. During the same span, rookie rival Brad Rogers averaged a 2.75 finish, went from 13th to seventh in the standings and beat Carter for the Southern Division Miller Lite Rookie of the Year by 129 points.

"Winning the Southern Division rookie of the year was one of our goals. We had some bad runs, but we didn't get down," said Carter. "Everybody said I should be showing some emotion, but that's not who I am. We just kept working hard and kept our heads up."

The hard work has paid off in the Championship Series. Carter backed up his fourth-place run at Myrtle Beach Speedway with a fifth-place finish at Motor Mile Speedway and has moved into sixth in the overall points. Not to mention, Carter now leads Gary St. Amant by 29 points heading into the season finale. But don't expect Carter to clam up now.

"The only pressure I have is what I put on myself," said Carter. "We had a goal to win a race this season, and we haven't won on yet. But we've got one race to go, and I'm going to try and win it."

If Carter wins the season finale, the only burden he'll be toting will be the $25,000 check from Miller Lite.

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