USAR: Jody Lavender will compete in Southern Division

Jody Lavender joins the Southern Division of the Hooters ProCup Series Longs, SC--Jody Lavender has spent time in the Craftsman Truck Series, Busch Series and Kodak Southeast Series, but the Hartsville, S.C., driver will call a new series...

Jody Lavender joins the Southern Division of the Hooters ProCup Series

Longs, SC--Jody Lavender has spent time in the Craftsman Truck Series, Busch Series and Kodak Southeast Series, but the Hartsville, S.C., driver will call a new series home in 2004.

Lavender announced today that he would compete in the Southern Division of the Hooters ProCup Series this season, driving the No. 99 Ford Taurus.

"I've wanted to drive in the [Hooters ProCup Series] for a while," said Lavender. "I like the style of car used in the series. With the series going to the radial tire, I think it's a good place to be."

Lavender hopes to use his experience on a radial tire last season in the Craftsman Truck Series to ease his transition into the Hooters ProCup Series. Lavender ran 21 races for Bobby Dotter Racing in the Craftsman Truck Series last season and finished 17th in points.

"I hope my experience in the trucks is going to help me this year," said Lavender. "Anytime you're around people that are smarter than you, it helps."

Haskell Willingham, a longtime ProCup owner and crew chief, will help Lavender's maiden voyage in the Hooters ProCup Series, providing tutelage until Lavender is comfortable in his new chassis. And that may not be long, considering Willingham knows the car well.

Lavender purchased his car from Willingham and is currently working out of Willingham's shop in preparation for the season opener at USA Int'l Speedway. Lavender's new ride is one of the cars Steven Christian used during the 2002 season while driving for Willingham.

"The reason we bought the car from Haskell is that he can help Jody out with getting everything ready for the season," said Jody's father, Joe Lavender. "He knows the [Hooters ProCup Series] well, and that should help us."

Lavender knows he is playing catch-up to many teams with his late start, but he has been in thrashing nonstop since purchasing the car and thinks success is just around the corner.

"We're going to struggle for the first five races or so," said Lavender. "But once we get things figured out, I think we should win a few races. I'm excited about this season."

Lavender will also receive help from longtime sponsors H&R Block and Hartville Community Bank during his debut season, laying the foundation for what Lavender believes will be a good year in his career.

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Series Stock car
Drivers Bobby Dotter , Jody Lavender