USAC Names National, Ford Focus Rookies of Year Aaron Pierce (Weld Racing Silver Crown Series), Josh Ford and Josh Wise (Valvoline National Sprint Car Series), Todd Beach (National Midget Car Series), and Rex Norris III (Midwest...
USAC Names National, Ford Focus Rookies of Year
Aaron Pierce (Weld Racing Silver Crown Series), Josh Ford and Josh Wise (Valvoline National Sprint Car Series), Todd Beach (National Midget Car Series), and Rex Norris III (Midwest Ford Focus) have been named respective 2004 USAC "Rookies of the Year" and will receive distinctive awards at this Friday night's USAC National Awards Ceremony, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Downtown-Marriott in Indianapolis. The University of Northwestern Ohio will present the National awards, while Jenmarco will present the Ford Focus award.
Pierce was the highest finishing rookie in the Silver Crown Series with a ninth-place finish. The Muncie, Ind. native began the year with a fourth-place finish in the "Copper World Classic" at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., despite a start of 33rd. Pierce, who was one of seven drivers to compete in all 13 events, also scored a career-best third in the "Rocky Mountain Classic" at Pikes Peak International Raceway and added three other "top 10" finishes. Pierce piloted the No. 26 Sam Pierce Chevrolet Valvoline Beast/Chevy.
Ford and Wise grabbed co-Rookie of the Year honors in the sprint cars after very successful performances. Ford finished the season ranked fifth in the final points, making 33 of the 35 feature events. A native of Camarillo, Calif., Ford led multiple events during the year and nearly won the Budweiser Oval Nationals in October at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway, finishing second. Ford, who gained the assistance of Keith Kunz Motorsports, drove the Berry Pack Ag Packaging/Ed Colby Welding Eagle chassis on pavement and Bullet chassis on dirt, both powered by Mopar.
Wise drove for Kunz in the No. 67 Snyder Racing Engines/Valvoline Bullet/Chevy, running the majority of the season's dirt features. Wise, who hails from Riverside, Calif., won events at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park in May and Limaland Motorsports Park, where he beat 1999 series champion Dave Darland by less than a car length. Wise added a runner-up finish at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind. during Valvoline "Indiana Sprint Week" and five other "top five" finishes.
Beach, a native of Donnelsville, Ohio, is the second Beach to score the Bob Stroud Award, given to the National Midget Car Series Rookie of the Year, as brother Teddy was the series' co-Rookie of the Year in 2002. In his first full season, Todd Beach competed in 14 of the 23 races with a best finish of fourth in the "Joe James/Pat O'Connor Classic" race at Salem (Ind.) Speedway. He also led the opening 64 laps of a July 100-lapper at the Indianapolis Speedrome before finishing seventh. Beach drove the No. 15 Beach Mfg./Fram Beast/Mopar to 12th in the final point standings.
Hailing from Knightstown, Ind., Norris scored second in the Midwest Ford Focus Midget Car Series final point standings after competing in all 17 point-paying events. Norris won the season finale at Lakeville, Ohio and added Speedrome Regional and Ford Focus Series victories in July and August. Norris, driving the No. 63 Rex Norris Company/QFI/RJ's Restaurant & Lounge Beast, finished eight of his 17 starts in the "top five" and 16 of his 17 races in the "top 10." Norris also earned the series' fast qualifier award.
Pierce, Ford, Wise, Beach and Norris join Western Series recipients who were honored at their banquet Nov. 27 in Buena Park, Calif. Among those receiving Rookie of the Year acclamations included Mike Murgoitio of Boise, Idaho (Western Sprint Car Series), Ronnie Case (Valvoline CRA Sprint Car Series), Matt Mitchell (Western Midget Car Series), and Chase Barber (California North and South Ford Focus Midget Car Series). The Western awards were presented by Hoosier Tire.