Series Veteran Has Eye On First CARS Pro Cup Championship
By Adam Fenwick – email@example.com, CARS Pro Cup Series Public Relations Director
Mooresville, N.C. – If you had to pick one driver who has been the class of the field throughout most of the 2012 CARS Pro Cup Series season, it would have to be veteran driver J.P. Morgan.
Through six races this year, Morgan has won three times and finished in the top five in every race. He has also led 751 of 1502 laps completed, exactly half of all laps run during the 2012 season.
Those dominant numbers aren’t happening by chance and they didn’t happen overnight. Morgan and the J&R Racing team have had to work for years to find the sort of consistency that has them atop the CARS Pro Cup Series standings in 2012.
Morgan first started his racing career in August of 1998, racing NASCAR-sanctioned late models at what is now known as Concord Speedway in North Carolina.
“My dad and I started a team and ran those late models for quite a while and then started road racing late models in the SCCS (Stock Car Championship Series) division,” Morgan said. “We ran those for a few years and won a championship in that in 2003.”
At the same time that Morgan was road course racing he started racing in the CARS Pro Cup Series, then known as the Hooters Pro Cup Series, driving an entry fielded by Chuck and Jim Bown.
“I started driving their school car for them,” Morgan recalled. “That’s how I got started running the Pro Cup Series.” Morgan made his Pro Cup debut in 2002, driving the No. 61 Chevrolet owned by the Bown family to a 15th place finish at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Fla.
After making 11 starts for Chuck and Jim Bown and six starts in an entry owned by Black’s Tire & Auto Service owner Ricky Benton, Morgan and his father decided to form their own Pro Cup team.
Success was slow for Morgan and the new J&R Racing team. Morgan earned his first top 10 in Pro Cup competition at Concord in 2008 and slowly began to move up the finishing order as he and the team gained experience.
“We slowly got better and better. Worked on our own stuff, worked on our own program,” Morgan said.
Morgan finally broke down the glass ceiling in Pro Cup competition in 2009, winning his first event at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
“That first win was obviously an awesome triumph for us. We worked very, very hard. It didn’t just come over night,” Morgan recalled. “It was really a cool thing. We were side-by-side (with race-long leader Drew Herring) for 45 laps trying to pass him. I finally got by him there at the end. It was a great race and almost a relief too. We’d been working so hard for it and had gotten so close so many times, so finally to get a win was just awesome.”
The 36-year-old North Carolina native says that victory was really the turning point for the entire J&R Racing organization.
“That was kind of like the beginning of what we have now,” Morgan said. “We finally won that race and the cars had been, they were good, but we really got our stuff together at that point.”
Morgan finished the 2009 season second in the final standings to Clay Rogers, his best finish to date. He followed that up with fourth-place championship finishes in both 2010 and 2011.
This year Morgan and the J&R Racing team have the 2012 CARS Pro Cup Series championship squarely in their sights.
“That’s our goal, to win the championship,” Morgan said. “It’s what we set out to do to begin with. We’ve come close in the past. We’ve been there running for it, but just never got the final prize. This year all of our ducks have been in a row and the cars have been absolutely great.
“Our goal was just to win as many races as we could and the points would come. They’d just work themselves out,” Morgan said. “That’s what we’ve tried to do. We haven’t tried to run for points; we’ve just tried to run for wins. So far it has worked out well for us.”
Ideally, Morgan would like to continue racing in the CARS Pro Cup Series well into the future, but wouldn’t be opposed to fielding entries for up-and-coming drivers looking to get started with the series.
“I love the cars. I think the cars being heavy, high horse power, they are everything you run from here on out. I always thought it was a good stepping stone series to move up,” Morgan said. “Plus, they’re fun to drive. The expense is much lower than the Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series. The cost standpoint is much, much better.
“With the cars that we have, I’m sure we’ll continue to run Pro Cup. Or, I may consider working with a younger driver in the Pro Cup Series,” Morgan said.
Before Morgan can think about that, his first focus is the CARS Pro Cup Series championship. He currently holds a 75-point lead over his closest title rival, Allen Purkhiser, in the CARS Pro Cup Series championship standings.
For more information on J.P. Morgan and the J&R Racing team, visit www.facebook.com/J.R.Team23.
Morgan and the rest of the CARS Pro Cup Series teams return to action this Friday at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, N.C. Gates open at 5 p.m., with CARS Pro Cup Series qualifying scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.
Friday’s event at Tri-County will include four divisions of racing, including the CARS Pro Cup Series, Allison Legacy Series, the Classic Sportsman Racing Association and a special 50-lap street-stock event.
Fans can visit www.carsprocup.com to purchase pre-sale tickets for just $12 through Wednesday. Tickets will be $15 on the day of the event.
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