ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. - After the roller coaster ride that was Saturday's Jackaroo Sauces 250, USAR Hooters ProCup driver Shane Huffman and his XTRA Motorsports team would probably have felt more at home in one of Florida's numerous amusement parks...
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA. - After the roller coaster ride that was Saturday's Jackaroo Sauces 250, USAR Hooters ProCup driver Shane Huffman and his XTRA Motorsports team would probably have felt more at home in one of Florida's numerous amusement parks than at St. Augustine Speedway. The Hickory, N.C. native was able to overcome a myriad of setbacks to pilot his #84 Johnsonville Bratwurst Ford Taurus from a thirty-third place starting position to a ninth place finish and, in the process, take home a share of the W. J. Plemons Investments "Hard Charger" Award.
"The qualifying lap was not even close to what we were expecting," said a bewildered Huffman. "We were one of the fastest cars in practice and had planned on the weather being cooler for qualifying, which it was. It looks like we may have just gotten a mismatched set of tires because, after our pit stop the car was right back where we wanted it to be."
Huffman had moved up to the fourteenth position when the caution flag flew on lap 74, giving crew chief Ronnie White the chance to bring his driver in for service by the team known as "The Brat Bunch". "We had a lug nut jam in the air gun while changing left side tires," said a disconsolate White. "This track looks big, but the pace car gets around it faster than you think. We just ran out of time and lost a lap in the pits."
It would be an uphill battle for Huffman to race his way back onto the lead lap and recover a tremendous amount of lost ground. To make matters worse, the former NASCAR Winston Racing Series National Runner-Up had run afoul of the USAR officials and would be the victim of a penalty on the restart. "We knew we had a car that could get that lap back, it was just a matter of being in a position to do it," said Huffman. "We got caught speeding leaving the pits, so instead of starting fifth in the bottom row of lapped cars, we had to start at the tail end of the longest line, behind all of the lead lap cars."
Once back on the lead lap, Huffman continued his climb up the leader board, earning his title as "Hard Charger" of the race. "It's nice for USAR to have these kind of awards and we're happy to win it, but I think I would rather start a little closer to front where I don't have the 'opportunity' to pass 24 cars once the race starts," quipped Huffman. "I'm just really proud of how this 'Brat Bunch' handled all the adversity tonight. These are the kind of breaks you need when you are running for a championship. A night like tonight is big when you look back on it in November."
Fans can catch all the action of the Jackaroo Sauces 250 from St. Augustine Speedway via tape-delayed broadcasts by the Speedvision Network on Thursday, March 22, at 9:00 p.m. & 1:00 a.m., and Friday, March 23, at 12:00 p.m.
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