Brownsburg, Indiana (April 3, 2012) — 2011 USAC Midwest Ford Focus Pavement Champion Ross Rankine opened the 2012 USAC Ford Focus Championship with a strong performance at the recent two-day “The Real Deal” Salute to Shane Hmiel race event at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, North Carolina.
The 4/10-mile paved banked track provided exciting racing for the combined USAC Midwest/Eastern Ford Focus Midget divisions on Friday and Saturday evenings, March 30 and 31. A strong lineup of Ford Focus drivers were featured at the event with 17 drivers taking the green flag for qualifying on Thursday for Friday’s feature. Ross qualified his Nine Racing, Inc. #9 Ford Focus Midget in 7th position. He started 4th in the 2nd heat race and was in a tight battle with a number of cars for the final transfer position but was collected in a crash on the white flag lap. The race car incurred damage that could not be repaired in time for the feature event.
But the trip to North Carolina was not awash when the team rolled out the backup car, which allowed Ross to start the 25-lap feature in 13th place. During the 25 laps of very competitive racing Ross methodically worked his way up to finish a strong 6th place in the Friday Ford Focus feature event.
“It felt really good to get back in the car after the long winter layoff,” said Ross Rankine. “Nine Racing Crew Chief Glenn Martin had my car set up perfectly, and although I made a small mistake during qualifying, I knew when it came time to race I would be competitive. I had the transfer spot nailed down in the heat race when all of a sudden entering turn three, two cars collided and I could not avoid hitting the car that slid up in front of me.”
For the second feature race on the event ticket, 18 Ford Focus Midgets lined up to qualify for Saturday’s race. Ross again was in the backup Focus Midget, but still recorded a qualifying time of 15.665 that placed him 4th overall. Ross finished 3rd in the first heat race, which secured him the inside row two starting spot for the 25-lap main event.
As the green flag waved to start the field, quickly a five-car battle emerged while the Ford Focus Midgets ran side by side at a torrid pace with positions changing on every lap. In the early laps Ross slipped back a few positions during the fight but worked his way up to 3rd and eventually finished the feature race in 4th position.
“This is a fast track with two grooves out there tonight so it made the racing really fun,” stated Ross. “Our team had a good night and I was pleased with our effort.”
After the first two races of the 2012 USAC Midwest Ford Focus Pavement Series season, Ross is ranked 4th in points, just 30 points behind series’ points leader Jared Irvan.
Ross Rankine’s sponsor lineup for 2012 includes National Pride Equipment, Eibach Springs, MPD, Bell Helmets, Colors by Barr, and 4 Paws Pet Wash.
Nine Racing’s 2012 sponsor lineup includes K&N Engineering, Eibach Springs, Weld Racing, Klotz Synthetic Lubricants, Penske Racing Shocks, Performance Friction Brakes, ASE, Earl’s Performance Plumbing, SSi Decals, PJ1, and Hoosier Racing Tire.