LOORRS veteran Rob “Fig” Naughton will race on General Grabbers for the remainder of the 2012 season.
Fort Mill, SC - May 16, 2012
General Tire is known for its winning tradition and the tire manufacturer is continuing that tradition with the addition of veteran driver Rob “Fig” Naughton to Team GT. Naughton, driver of the No. 54 Lunarpages.com Pro-2 truck for Hart & Huntington andPremier Motorsports Group, transitioned to General’s at Lake Elsinore last month and is looking to add to his 25 short course wins at his home track this weekend in Surprise, Arizona.
“We’re really excited to have Rob as a member of Team GT,” said Travis Roffler, director of marketing for General Tire. “He’s extremely talented and knows how to win in a Pro-2 truck. I know we’ll see him on the podium real soon.”
Eager to add to the win column, Naughton sat down to answer a few questions about Speedworld Raceway Park, transitioning to a new team and tire, and his daughter’s racing career prior to rounds five and six at Speedworld. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: Surprise is your “home track”. What kind of an advantage does that give you?
A: I have always done well at my home tracks. In fact, I had two Pro-2 wins in Arizona last year. I always have a lot of friends and family at the home town races and that is definitely a boost. I am also just more familiar with the Arizona tracks as that is where I have done most of my testing. I am expecting good results this weekend at Speedworld.
Q: This is your second race with Hart & Huntington. How has the adjustment been? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
A: The last two rounds at Lake Elsinore were definitely a challenge as everything was new and I had no seat time. Unfortunately we had issues both days with mechanical failures so my results were not what I expect from myself. That said we have made changes to the truck that will make it more reliable and suit my driving style better. As usual I expect to be racing for podium finishes at Speed World. The biggest challenge is we had no pre-season testing so we are having to make adjustments and changes on race days which is always a challenge. But we have a great team and great sponsors so I expect to be back up front sooner than later.
Q: What types of things have you been doing to make the transition as seamless as possible?
A: I am trying to rely on my experience, in six seasons I have 25 wins in ProLite and Pro-2, a ProLite Championship, two Challenge Cup wins and a bunch of podiums. The things I have learned over the years have given me the confidence that we will make the changes necessary to be a winner. The team has been working very hard to make the changes to the truck I have requested. They brought me on board to win races and they are committed to doing whatever needs to be done to achieve this goal. I couldn’t ask for a better team or opportunity than the one I have with the Hart & Huntington/Lunarpages team.
Q: You’re new to having General’s on your truck. How are they performing for you and what do you think of them?
A: The performance of the Generals is awesome, it’s a proven winner and championship tire so there is nothing more I can ask for. With all the changes we are making to the truck, the tire is one area we do not need to worry about, it works.
Q: What are some of the keys to getting around Surprise?
A: I would say carrying good speed down the back straight, getting through the sweeper well, and carrying speed down the front straight is key to having good lap times at this track.
Q: How important is qualifying at this track?
A: Qualifying is the most important part at every track so it doesn’t really change at Surprise. Qualifying has been one of my weaker areas over the last couple years and I need to fix that starting at Surprise. It makes life a whole lot easier to start up front and avoid the carnage that can take you out of the race.
Q: How does the track change from day one to day two? Does the intensity of the racing change?
A: The track usually gets harder and more blue-grooved from Saturday to Sunday. The intensity is maxed out starting from the green flag in qualifying Friday until the checker flag on Sunday. So it’s important to show up mentally ready to go to war all weekend long.
Q: Your 11-year-old daughter also races. What is that like as a father to sit back and watch your daughter follow in your footsteps?
A: It’s great! Racing has always been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. It's been what we do as a family for the 18 years my wife and I have been together. So going racing with our kids is just another part of what we do. I really enjoy watching Bella race and improve, she is one of if not the youngest drivers in the Modified Trophy Kart class at age 11 and I think she is doing really well for her age. Most of the front-running kids are boys between the ages of 13 to 15. I think Bella will be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come as she gets older and gains more experience. We are building her a new truck with the best of everything and I think this will only help her results going forward.
Q: What's the best part of short-course racing?
A: The adrenaline and excitement of going head-to-head with the other competitors in a 900hp race truck as well as performing in front of a crowd is very cool. Short course is one of those sports that has to be witnessed live to fully get it. I fell in love with this sport the very first time I saw it and have been addicted to it ever since. The best part for me is getting to celebrate on the podium with my team, sponsors, friends, family and the crowd. That’s what keeps me motivated and excited.
For more information on the LOORRS event at Speed World in Surprise, and the activities surrounding the event, make sure to visit www.lucasoiloffroad.com.