"We're going to Mansfield to win. That's what we're shooting for. If we don't have a Top-5 or a Top-10 run, we're going to be disappointed." To say Matt Hawkins has set some high goals for himself and his No. 2 H&H Electric Ford Fusion in this...
"We're going to Mansfield to win. That's what we're shooting for. If we don't have a Top-5 or a Top-10 run, we're going to be disappointed."
To say Matt Hawkins has set some high goals for himself and his No. 2 H&H Electric Ford Fusion in this Saturday's opening round of the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Championship Series at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway is an understatement.
Then again, the 19-year-old driver set the USAR world on its ear earlier this year winning the first event of his Pro Cup career at Lakeland, FL, so taking the checkered flag first at Mansfield wouldn't be out of character for the Canton, GA native.
To do it, Hawkins and the rest of the 36-car starting field will have to master the tricky half-mile, mid-Ohio track.
"Mansfield looks pretty much like a one-groove track, so track position is going to be key to winning the race Saturday," said Hawkins. "It'll be tough to pass, so pit strategy and staying up front is going to be very important."
Hawkins, who has never raced at Mansfield, still feels like he has a leg up on the task as hand thanks to a solid performance at the track earlier this season by his teammate, Mike Garvey.
"Mike ran the Hooters North Division race at Mansfield and finished third," said Hawkins. "With those kind of notes from that race, we should have a pretty good baseline to work from and be close on chassis on both of our cars when we unload. We're going to have a test day there Friday, so that will help me as well."
In the end, Hawkins hopes to rekindle an early season fire that saw him post a trio of Top-10 finishes in the first five events of the year. The final three races are better forgotten according to the young driver.
'You know, we had a decent year," Hawkins stated. "We won right out of the box at Lakeland and ran well the first half of the season. Then in the last half, we just didn't have any good luck. We'd have a good race and then bad luck in the next. We should have been in the Top-10 in every race. We led the rookie of the year deal all season only to lose it in the final race. We had a decent year, but we should have had a lot more."
Hawkins will be looking to have just that when the Sears Auto Center 250, the first of five 2007 USAR Hooters Pro Cup Championship events takes the green flag this Saturday, September 1, at 7 p.m.