USAR: Illiana: Kauffman graduates at the race track

Kauffman Gets His High School Diploma... At The Race Track Former Guidance Counselor Awards Joel Certificate At Illiana MOORESVILLE, NC (August 23, 2004) -- They say your senior year is the most important in your high school career. You are the...

Kauffman Gets His High School Diploma... At The Race Track
Former Guidance Counselor Awards Joel Certificate At Illiana

MOORESVILLE, NC (August 23, 2004) -- They say your senior year is the most important in your high school career. You are the leader of the school. Everyone looks up to you. The whole year is about your rise to the top and your breakout to the "real world."

Joel Kauffman didn't have the normal high school "senior year" experience. Most seniors remember their proms, homecomings and graduation parties for the rest of their lives. Joel's favorite memory was winning his first USAR Hooters ProCup Series race at Salem Speedway (IN).

This past weekend at Illiana Motor Speedway (IN), 18-year-old Kauffman was rewarded for all of his hard work, most of which consisted of school work being done on the road, via mail and email, so he could continue to pursue his racing career. Joel's former Guidance Counselor, Patricia Downing, or Mrs. Downing to Kauffman, presented Joel with his Lakeland High School (LaGrange, IN) diploma during driver introductions before the start of the Walt's Foods 250.

"It was really a pretty neat thing," said Kauffman of the occasion, which was a welcomed surprise to the second-year ProCup driver. "She (Downing) helped me out a lot over the last couple of years to make sure that we could do what we are trying to do and get all of the right materials to me and to make sure I got everything back in the right time frames.

"It was tough, but fun. Sure, there are times you wish you could have had the normal senior year like most people, but that is part of the things I had to give up to go racing. So to have her come to the racetrack to present me with my diploma was pretty cool. I think there were some other people there that thought it was pretty neat too."

Unfortunately for Kauffman, the night's race didn't go quite as well as pre-race did for the now North Carolina native.

"We had a great race car. Some of the things that we have been struggling with over the past few weeks we got all figured out and that makes me feel real good and real confident heading into the championship series.

"We qualified fourth and the car wasn't real good at the start, but it was coming around to us. We were just taking our time. We came in and got tires and they just didn't match up as good and we ran into problems from there.

"We were passing a lapped car and just got the left-side tires down a little too far and the car spun out. I don't know if we were having battery problems or what, because I couldn't get the car to refire and we lost a lap."

Joel finally got the car going and joined the field one-lap down. But by lap 200, Kauffman found himself back on the lead lap.

"We were up to fifth and then the car ran out of gas. It was really too bad because I think we could have finished third had the car not ran out of gas. We could have used that, but that's ok. Despite the finish, I feel real good with the things that we found on the car."

Joel finished 12th and is now seventh in the ProCup Northern Division point standings with just one race left before the start of the five-race championship series. Kauffman has already qualified for the championship series.

-tlaw-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Joel Kauffman