Change isn’t always easy, but for the CARS X-1R Pro Cup Series, change has become a necessity moving forward.
According to Director of Operations Chris Ragle, the series will be making major changes for the 2015 racing season in order to stimulate the growth of the series and make the CARS X-1R Pro Cup Series a viable option moving forward.
“Over the last several years we have done everything to make the Pro Cup Series grow in its current the form of cars and race format,” Ragle told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We are at a point now we are going to make some major changes to stimulate that growth into a viable series down the road.”
Formerly known as the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series, the series was known for its large purses and the great mixture of veterans, short track legends and up-and-coming stock car drivers. In the series’ heyday in the mid-2000’s, drivers such as Bobby Gill, Clay Rogers and Shane Huffman competed regularly in the series. Future NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers like Joey Logano, Brian Vickers, Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith also got their feet wet competing in the series.
Now in its 18th year of competition, the series – which has featured purpose-built stock cars akin to a mid-point between a NASCAR K&N-type car and a perimeter-chassis Late Model – has struggled to maintain a strong stream of support from competitors in recent years. A series that saw 32 drivers running a full-time schedule between its north and south division in 2001 has seen that number drop drastically with just six drivers supporting the series full-time in 2014.
In an attempt to build on those numbers and experiment with some of the possible changes moving forward, the series made the decision to allow Late Model Stock Cars to compete in the series’ final two events of the 2014 season.
On October 4th, in the first race that allowed Late Models to compete in the Pro Cup Series, two Late Models entered the series’ event at Lonesome Pine Raceway (VA). Track Late Model competitors Brad Ball, Brian Blevins, Lance Gatlin and former Pro Cup racer and NASCAR Nationwide Rookie of the Year Danny O’Quinn, Jr. were among the Lonesome Pine entrants.
“The current experiment to add Late Model Stock Cars in the mix is something we are certainly looking at for the future,” said Ragle. “The cars themselves are fairly similar to a Pro Cup car. Yes, there is a power difference, but we are working on a formula to make both machines equally competitive. And I don’t think we are too far off right now.
“We offer the best possible pavement short track purse there is by a series on a regular basis, so if it’s something that LMSC are truly interested in they will be a part of the solution and not stand back and think of reasons why not to be a part of what we are trying to do.”
Although having Late Model Stock Cars involved in the series is an option moving forward, it is not a certainty. In an email, Ragle told Speed51.com that the series is looking at all of its options moving forward and will make a decision on the future of the series during the offseason.
“We also haven’t ruled out the possibility of a ‘return to the roots’ of the Pro Cup Series by racing as a Super Late Model series in 2015,” said Ragle. “We are just looking at all our options right now as a series and will come to a decision sometime this off season. We want to have support from the racer on a regular basis, that’s something we haven’t had except from a select few of supporters.
“At the end of the day the CARS X-1R Pro Cup Series will be evolving into something new in 2015. It’s just going to come down to who wants to support what we do.”
Speed51.com will have live Trackside Now coverage of the series’ final event under its current format from Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) on Saturday, October 18.
-By Brandon, Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com