Mike Herman, Jr. quietly worked his way back into contention in the USAR Hooters ProCup Series this past Saturday night in Jennerstown, PA with a solid third place finish in the history making first Northern Series race of 2001. Without...
Mike Herman, Jr. quietly worked his way back into contention in the USAR Hooters ProCup Series this past Saturday night in Jennerstown, PA with a solid third place finish in the history making first Northern Series race of 2001. Without sponsorship for his family operated team, Herman was left without a ride for the 2001 season.
"I decided to call Don Sprouse before Lakeland to see if he needed any help, luckily he said yes, so I went to Lakeland to help his two drivers, Tom Pistone and Brent Sherman, plus I figured being at the track was better than staying at home, you never know what might come up and who you might meet" said Herman "I had several teams talk to me about possibly picking me up, but nothing ever materialized, most teams out there are looking for drivers with sponsors, which is hard to come by." Come to find out, Herman didn't need to look any further than Don Sprouse Motorsports.
After working together for the last four races of 2000, including a second place finish at Hickory Motor Speedway, it was a natural decision for Sprouse to carry a third team driver in Herman to the new Northern Division. Which brought them to Jennerstown. Without the opportunity to participate in the open test session and with only 2 hours of practice due to rain Herman turned in a solid qualifying run to place him eleventh on the starting grid. "The team was pleased with qualifying but I was a little disappointed, I left a good 2 tenths or more out on the track. The car reacted differently on new tires than it did on old ones in practice but I knew we would be okay in the ra the caution flew on lap 87 Herman found himself in a seven-lap battle with Mart Nesbitt for the $1000 Lucas Oil Half Way Leader bonus. Herman took the point on lap 95 and went on to lead the next 27 laps but he thought this might have played a role in the out come. "We probably should have pitted back on lap 68 with Stacy Puryear and the others but we really needed the bonus. Don's running our Northern effort without a sponsor so every dollar counts. Plus the bonus points gave us the point lead but at this stage it really doesn't matter, but it gives everybody confidence."
When the caution flew again on lap 122 Herman relinquished his lead and headed for the pits for his mandatory stop. After pitting for tires and fuel Herman restarted the race with poor track position and with only 75 laps remaining to work his way back to the front. Herman mounted a furious charge with most of his time-spent working the least preferred outside line. Everything was working smoothly until contact was made between two cars on the tight Jennerstown front stretch. "I was racing Charlie Ford for position when he made contact with a lap car. I had already committed to the inside of him when everybody checked up."
After hard contact with Ford things got a little harder for Herman. "It tore our nose up pretty bad, after that my car picked up an aero push, it made the engine run hot the rest of the night and it just wouldn't turn down into the corner like it did before." Even with damage to the front end of his Ford Taurus Herman was able to work his way up to third place behind Donnie Hill with a handful of laps remaining. "I threw everything I had at Donnie but he had an answer for every move I made. His spotter done a really good job of protecting his line, I tried to pressure him into making a mistake but that wasn't going to happen, he ran a really smooth race. Then I realized the race was only 200 laps, we normally run 250, I really needed those extra 50 laps, especially if I was going to have a chance at Stacy. I guess it just wasn't meant to be tonight, the fastest car doesn't always win, but we will take a third place finish any day and go on to try again at Thompson. I'm just fortunate to be able to drive for Don. He has gave me a great opportunity and I plan on making the most out of it for him."
The next stop for Don Sprouse Motorsports will be this coming weekend in Jacksonville, NC then it is off to Thompson, CT May 6th with Mike Herman, Jr. for the second Northern ProCup event of the year.