Saturday, April 19, 2008

That kid from Canton, Georgia

Imagine you're a young racecar driver, earning your way up through the stock car ranks.
You begain your racing career at the age of four, riding four-wheeler atvs in competition on the dirt tracks of Georgia. From there, you worked your way up through very successful seasons in go-cart racing, winning the Kart-World National championship. At the age of fourteen, you were the Legends cars champion. From there it was on to super late models, again making your mark on the regional level, and winning the Southern All Stars Championship. In the nineteenth year of your life, you are starting to get national attention, as you finish your rookie year in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup series in the top ten in points.
Now you've made it to what is arguably the "make or break" series, the ARCA/Remax. Your competition includes nine time series champion Frank Kimmel, the near-legendary Bobby Gerhart, and several drivers around to your own age whose resumes are as impressive and lengthy as your own. Michael Annet, who saw victory lane in what was only his second ARCA race, less than a year ago, was the winner at Daytona earlier this year, and has yet to finish a race outside the top ten. Scott Speed, being carefully developed on his way to being a NASCAR Sprint Cup star, has big money backing him and is a former Formula One driver. Justin Allgaier has won two of the first three races of the season and is the series leader, and the favorite to win this race. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr, comes from a prestigious racing family, and has the talent and strong backing to carry on the family tradition.
But you are not daunted by any of this. Your name is Matt Hawkins, and you came to win.
Hawkins did exactly what he needed to do in his very first ARCA/Remax Series race, which took place today in Iowa. He stayed on the lead lap and took care of his car. Matt Carter led most of the race at the 7/8 mile oval (which made me melancholy for PPIR, by the way), but his car was used up by the time the race reached its closing laps, and Matt Hawkins overtook him for the lead, after racing fender to fender with him for several laps. Polesitter Justin Allgaier was breathing down his neck in the final three laps, after coming back twice from pit stop mishaps in the last part of the race, but Hawkins held the lead and took the checkers by less than one second.
He was emotional about winning his very first ARCA race, but he held his composure like a pro.
To put things in perspective, at the age of 20 he has sixteen years of racing experience, one more year than Jeff Gordon had when he was 20. Would anyone disagree with me if I predicted that the Kid from Canton will soon be Cup material?
Photo Credit: Matt Hawkins Web Site.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A very very sad story indeed.
Lori M.