Kauffman Wins First Pro Cup Race on Home Turf 18 Year Old Does it in Style With a Two-Lap Margin of Victory MOORESVILLE, NC (June 14, 2004) -- A driver only gets one first victory in any given racing series. When Joel Kauffman won his first...
Kauffman Wins First Pro Cup Race on Home Turf
18 Year Old Does it in Style With a Two-Lap Margin of Victory
MOORESVILLE, NC (June 14, 2004) -- A driver only gets one first victory in any given racing series. When Joel Kauffman won his first USAR Pro Cup Northern Division race at the Salem Speedway (IN) on Saturday night, he definitely did it in style.
First of all, Kauffman bested the field at a track near his Indiana home in front of family and friends. Secondly, he did so by a margin of two laps. There was no doubt who was in charge of the race, but it did not come as easily as it looked for Kauffman.
"This was more of a survival race and things played our way," said Kauffman. "Our car was much better on long runs and we only had four cautions all night. We weren't very good on new tires and set the car up that way on purpose. We've found that these tires change so much. You need to be loose at the beginning of a run to be good later on. We gambled on that and it paid off."
It's not that the #44 LA West team had much time to try out any set-ups in practice either.
"It rained in the afternoon and we didn't get much practice," said Kauffman. "When we did go out, everyone was about four-seconds slower than usual and a few guys didn't even practice at all. The track was seeping water pretty bad and the officials decided to cancel qualifying and start by points to be safe."
Kauffman started tenth and worked his way through the pack.
"We got up to fifth pretty easily," Kauffman said. "Then we went from fifth to first on a yellow-flag pit stop, but our car wasn't the best when the green came back out. The car was very loose and bottomed out a few times. We slipped back to third. Our car kept getting better and with 38 laps left, we took the lead."
From there, nobody could come close to touching Kauffman.
"We should have only won by one lap, but Danny Sammons lost a cylinder late in the race and fell back," said Kauffman while downplaying his margin of victory.
Getting to victory lane required no directions for Kauffman, who first raced at the track when he was 14 and has won several times since, or his crew chief Tim Kohuth.
"Tim came here once before for an ARCA race," said Kauffman. "His car sat on the pole and won that day. His experience and my experience at this track really helped a lot."
Kauffman is from La Grange, Indiana, and the win at Salem really hits close to home for the young driver.
"I've gained a lot of fans here over the years because of my young age," Kauffman said. "My girlfriend, Kacie, is from Salem as well, so we had a lot of family, friends and LA West employees out there cheering us on. Our time was coming and it was really special to be able to win our first race at this track."
Kauffman now heads to the next USAR race at the Lake Erie Speedway (PA) with momentum and a little more respect from his fellow competitors.
"I think that we gained some respect tonight," Kauffman said. "It was great that so many people were excited for us. Now we are going to Lake Erie and it's new for our series. A lot of these guys have raced at almost every track that we go to. Next week, we all have a clean slate and the playing field is level."
The Lake Erie event is scheduled for Saturday, June 19th.
Kauffman and Team LA West Racing are competing for the Pro Cup Series championship in 2004. However, they are still looking for marketing partners to help them in their quest.