USAR: Michael Ruttkamp to drive for Xtra Motorsports

Xtra Motorsports adds Extra driver Longs, SC--In racing, changes come quick, and Xtra Motorsports is a living testament to that fact. Two weeks ago, Xtra Motorsports was still debating its plans for `04. After resigning defending Hooters...

Xtra Motorsports adds Extra driver

Longs, SC--In racing, changes come quick, and Xtra Motorsports is a living testament to that fact.

Two weeks ago, Xtra Motorsports was still debating its plans for `04. After resigning defending Hooters ProCup champion Shane Huffman last week, Xtra Motorsports announced today that it would field two cars in the Southern Division, adding rookie Michael Ruttkamp to its stable.

"We went from zero to hero," joked Xtra Motorsports co-owner Rhett Durham. "It's not like we were fading as a team. It just takes time to get everything worked out."

Now that Xtra has everything worked out, Durham and Co. can start focusing on their goals.

"Where we are right now, we feel like it's within reason to win the rookie of the year title and repeat as champion," added Durham. "We're not going to be disappointed with less, but that's why we're here."

Ruttkamp agrees.

"I definitely think that we should be a top rookie team," said Ruttkamp. "Shane is going to be our teammate, and he brings a lot of knowledge with him. Plus, we're going to be doing a lot of testing before the season."

Ruttkamp already has some seat time in a ProCup machine, running two races last season as a teammate to Brian Ross in the Northern Division.

"[Running races last year] helped me gain some experience," said Ruttkamp, who also ran several ASA events last season. "My weak point was qualifying last season. I've learned that you have to drive these cars hard in qualifying, and then be consistent in the race."

Being a 16-year-old rookie, Ruttkamp will undoubtedly face growing pains during the year, but Durham believes they may be minimal.

"There's going to be a learning curve," said Durham. "Bringing Michael in with Shane, we hope that will help. We're excited about getting Michael. He's won at all levels, and we feel he can help us out."

Based on his resume, he just may.

Ruttkamp grabbed three feature wins and Rookie of the Year honors in the Late Model Stock division in 2002. Impressive, but the youngster's gaudy stats in the open-wheel ranks are more so.

At 10-years-old, Ruttkamp piloted his go-kart to a World Karting Association Oval Track national title. Ruttkamp also won the WKA Road Course national title driving his low-slung rocket in 1998. In 1999, Ruttkamp repeated as WKA champion in both divisions before graduating to sprint cars.

In two seasons of sprint competition, Ruttkamp picked up nine feature wins along with Rookie of the Year honors.

-usar-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Brian Ross , Shane Huffman