USAR: Southern: Matt Hawkins race report

Matt Hawkins Spins Rough Race Into Fifth At Southern National New Track Surface Provided New Challenges For Pro Cup Drivers CANTON, GA (July 24, 2007) -- Earlier this season the Southern National Raceway Park facility (Kenly, NC) was repaved,...

Matt Hawkins Spins Rough Race Into Fifth At Southern National
New Track Surface Provided New Challenges For Pro Cup Drivers

CANTON, GA (July 24, 2007) -- Earlier this season the Southern National Raceway Park facility (Kenly, NC) was repaved, making the track fast. While local racers and a few touring series have raced on the new surface, Matt Hawkins and the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series had yet to put rubber down on the track until Saturday's 250-lapper. While the race didn't exactly go the way Hawkins wanted it to, he was happy to come away with a fifth-place finish at the end of the event.

Hawkins started his run to the front from the 17th position and patiently moved his way through the pack with a car that wouldn't stick to the track until the sun set in the distance.

"We were terrible in the daylight," said Hawkins. "We couldn't pass. I would get under someone and would get sideways. I would get under them coming off four and had no forward bite. But it kept getting cooler and cooler, and I would follow one car by and eventually worked our way up. We just worked on them one by one."

The new track surface made the racing physical since there was only one true groove the cars would grip on. One incident bit Hawkins as he was sent spinning off turn four on the front stretch, but grabbed a gear and kept going without any major damage.

"I just got lucky," said Hawkins. "I got spun on the front straightaway for no reason. The guy just ran right in the back of me. But you couldn't pass for anything. If you moved up it wouldn't turn."

Hawkins avoided serious trouble again in the race when a few cars made contact forcing him to dive low, squeezing between the inside wall and a mangled car backing down the track in front of him.

"They were wrecking left and right in front of me," explained Hawkins. "They would go into the corner and boot the guy in front of them. They wouldn't even try to pass them. A bunch of cars did that. I had five or six cars spin around in front of me."

Late in the race, Hawkins had managed to survive the melee on the track, working his way to the fifth position. While he thought he might have been able to work his way to the fourth position, respect for where he was and who he was racing against kept Hawkins in the fifth position at the conclusion of the race.

"I couldn't get any forward bite," said Hawkins. "Being it was Mike (Mike Garvey) in front of me I didn't want to push the issue. Let us both get out of here with a top five.

Even though the race was rough, Hawkins didn't have anything bad to say about the facility as he looks forward to his next race.

"I like the track. It is just hard to race on. I think with more time the groove will move up on it.

"We are going to go test and Hickory, and maybe we can have another top five there and go one after the championship."

-credit: www.matthawkins.net

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Series Stock car
Drivers Mike Garvey