USAR: Huffman Hickory Motor Speedway preview

Huffman Getting it Done, With a Little Help from his Friends HICKORY, N.C. - Seems like old times at the Hickory Motor Speedway. Shane Huffman will be taking to the track again Saturday night, hot on the trail of a national championship, ...

Huffman Getting it Done, With a Little Help from his Friends

HICKORY, N.C. - Seems like old times at the Hickory Motor Speedway. Shane Huffman will be taking to the track again Saturday night, hot on the trail of a national championship, mirroring the 1999 season in which the Hickory native finished as National Runner-up in the NASCAR Winston Racing Series.

For 2001, Huffman's Hickory based XTRA Motorsports team is made up largely of the same members from that 1999 Blue Ridge Region Championship late model team. The only real changes have been the heavier stock cars that Huffman now drives on the USAR Hooters ProCup Series, and the man talking to him on the radio, crew chief Ronnie White.

"Ronnie has really made an impact on what we're able to do," said Carroll Watts, co-owner and general manager of XTRA, "He's taken the talent that we had from that late model team, as well as the new faces we've brought on board, and created a professional organization. There's not much that's going to get by these guys, and that shows every time we unload at a racetrack."

White comes from a NASCAR Busch Grand National Series background, having spent the last five years as a chassis specialist with prw Racing on that circuit.

"We really just stick to the basics," said White, "The cars and set-ups are similar to what I dealt with over on the Busch Series, the only real difference has been learning the bias-ply tires compared to the radials I was used to. It sounds simple, but we just try take care all the little things and the end result is what you see out on the racetrack."

Huffman currently sits second in the USAR Southern Division points standings, on the strength of two wins, three top-fives and five top-tens in the six races run thus far, and only shows signs of getting stronger, after posting back-to-back wins in the last two USAR South events.

"We're really pleased with how the season has gone so far," said Huffman, "The sponsors are happy, so we like that, and it's made racing fun again. Everybody's excited and we just look forward to getting to the racetrack every time it's race day."

You might think a team in it's first year with a series as competitive as the ProCup Series has turned out to be would feel the pressure of being in the thick of the championship race right off the bat. Not so according to XTRA team member Mike Sigmon. "Being involved in that '99 season has taught us composure and how to deal with a situation like this," said Sigmon. "Compared to the Racing Series, this is a lot easier on us. Here, we control our own destiny because we're racing against the competition. In '99, we were competing against guys all over the country that we never even had a chance to see race, much less race against."

Huffman and "The Brat Bunch," as the XTRA team is known because of their affiliation with sponsor Johnsonville Bratwurst, will be in action Saturday night at HMS when the USAR Hooters ProCup Series makes the first of it's two scheduled visits to "The World's Most Famous Short Track" in 2001. Gates open at 4:30 p.m., with qualifying set for 5:30 p.m., and the green flag waves at 8:00 p.m.

For more information, visit www.shanehuffman.com or www.usarprocup.com.

-XTRA-

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Series Stock car