NORWALK, Ohio (September 7, 2012) – It all came down to one night.
After seven stops, nearly 10,000 miles logged and a ton of racing, the chase for Nitro Jam’s professional championships all came down to the final day of competition at the CarSafe Northern Nitro Jam at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park.
The other three champions had already sealed their titles. Their drama was over and they were able to breathe easy. Not so for a 19-year-old rookie out of Las Vegas who faced a pressure no teenager should ever have to endure in their very first year of racing – one pass for all the marbles.
Kyle Hough won the Nitro Jam Fuel Altered championship in his first year behind the wheel
Holding a nine-point lead over Ron Maroney entering the weekend, Hough was left in a precarious position when he lost in the first round and Maroney advanced. That first round mishap left just enough room for Maroney to make it interesting and control his own destiny.
But in the final pass of the night Maroney smoked the tires and Mike Hilsabeck drove to the win, giving the rookie his very first championship by the slimmest of margins – two points.
“My first thought when I was handed that trophy was wow, this thing is heavy,” Hough said with a laugh. “I got kind of emotional on the return road with my dad and grandpa both standing there. My grandpa was a world champion, my father was a world champion and to follow in their footsteps and try and keep doing what they are doing, that is what this is all about. To stand there with them holding that trophy was one of the greatest moments of my life.”
Despite not winning in 2012, Hough’s seven finals were enough to give him to the title by two points
Making the win even more enjoyable was the fact that Hough’s dad Rick and grandpa Dave were on hand to celebrate with him. Both Dave and Rick drove the “Nanook” Fuel Altered during its glory years with both drivers winning multiples races. Now Kyle has been handed the torch and will carry on the family legacy in a car that has proven one of the winningest Altereds of all-time.
While Hough never managed to find victory lane in 2012, five others did. Maroney led the way in the win column behind the wheel of the “Blind Faith” Altered with five wins this season, followed by Mike Hilsabeck in “Arizona Thunder” and Tom Padilla in “Nasty Benjamin” with three wins apiece, Ron Hope in “Rat Trap” with two victories and Randy Bradford and the “Bradford’s Fiat” crew had one win.
Ironically, championship runner-up Maroney won his first championship last year driving, you guessed it, the “Nanook” machine that Hough piloted this year. Maroney took on the role until Hough got his license and then returned to his own team this year. Hough, on the other hand, went from crewing the car to making 220 mph passes all in the span of a year.
“I am definitely enjoying driving it. I loved tuning the car and doing everything on the starting line, but this is a lot different,” Hough said. “When you are in the seat it is just you. When that light turns green no one is there to help. It is all you and I love that.”
Now the “Nanook” team will gear up for a run at a third straight championship while Hough will work in reverse order as he tries to get his first career victory.
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