Rookie Preview: Steve Halpin
The 2012 rookie class is shaping up to be one of the strongest in years. We know of Cornwall, PEI's Dylan Gosbee going for the prestigious crown and we've heard rumors of others making the jump to the highest form of stock car racing in Atlantic Canada. Now we can pencil in one more name to the list - Steve Halpin.
Halpin started his Pro Stock career last season as a regular in the weekly division at Speedway 660. At the end of the season, he stood on the podium in one of the biggest open Pro Stock shows in the region. Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour fans may know him best for his sixth place qualifying effort during the 2011 Parts for Trucks 100 at Speedway 660, Halpin was running well in the top ten before a flat tire with ten laps to go ended the run for the #03 at his home track.
Part failures, like the flat tire in the Pro Stock Tour stop at Speedway 660, plagued the team throughout the year in the team's first Pro Stock season. 'We had a lot of mechanical problems that hurt our finishes last year,' Halpin told me as he reflected on 2011. 'Running eighth with ten to go in the Tour race at 660 last season really served as a morale boost for the team. Our PEI start was probably our worst showing of the year. We wanted to run that race to get some seat time prior to the 250 in Geary. Our setup was off and we fought starter issues for most of the day but looking back I'm glad we went because now I have some seat time running in those cars at that track.'
Like many rookies before him, he put in laps in a Sportsman car prior to jumping to a Pro Stock car. Halpin enjoyed success in his time in the class, including a 100-lap feature win in his rookie season. While he lists that as one of his career highlights, last season's Speedway 660 Pro Stock 250 definitely tops the list. 'We weren't even going to enter that race until we finally figured the car out a few weeks before and were getting the finishes we deserved,' recalls Halpin of the third place finish. 'We headed into that weekend just hoping to make the race and finish.'
The goals remain consistent with the last couple of seasons when transitioning into a new endeavor. 'Everyone always wants to go out and win obviously,' said Halpin on the upcoming season. 'Over the past three years running out of Geoff Armstrong's shop, we've always set realistic goals. Our goals this year are just to get seat time and finish races. Anything else that comes is a bonus. Going to new tracks and running with all the good competition the Tour has will only help me as a driver. I'm going to be getting double the seat time every week than I did running weekly at 660. It's a big step up for us, but I think we're going to be a lot better prepared this year than last.'
Halpin also has a handful of sponsors who help him get to the track each week, including Saint John Toyota, AJ Mallette & Sons Painting, Rustick Auto & Repair,Tthomas Construction, Manchester Enterprise, GD Fabrication & Parts and L. Halpin Excavating.
As said off the top, this rookie class has the potential to be one of the best rookie chases in years. Who will land the first blow in the battle at the CARQUEST 100 at Scotia Speedworld? We're only about 90 days from finding out.
Until next time, keep the hammer down and we'll see you at the track!
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