Five-time Pro Cup Series champion Clay Rogers is well-known for his short-track prowess and it’s where the Troutman resident plans to focus his attention this season.
“There are a lot of these big super late model races I haven’t had the opportunity to run and I’d like to try to win them,” said the 33-year-old Rogers, who won the prestigious Snowball Derby in Pensacola, Fla., in 2006. “The Winchester 400, the All-American 400, races like that. There are a lot of big names that have won those races over the years, so I’d like to have mine there beside them. I’m not going to be a (NASCAR) Sprint Cup driver so I might as well focus on the opportunities that I do have.”
A Concord native who grew up in Mooresville, Rogers initially entered the Feb. 15 ARCA season opener at Daytona but withdrew when his sponsorship deal fell through a few days before the event. Instead, he accompanied Steven Wallace to New Smyrna Speedway (Fla.) to assist his friend in the nine-day World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
“I’ve got to figure out a way to race these cars (super late model) more often because everyone has gotten so good,” said Rogers, who plans to defend his X-1R Pro Cup Series championship. “A few years ago we could race Pro Cup all year and then show up at the end of the year at the Snowball Derby and race and be competitive. It’s just not that way anymore.
“There are a lot of young guys that have good backing and have good people working for them full time. Ten or 12 years ago you got some buddies together, got a super late model and went out and raced it. Now you have a bunch of teams with full-time employees and they prepare cars for multiple different drivers. Right now it’s where the stiffest competition is.”
Rogers is no stranger to tough competition. He began racing karts at age 7 at Two Flags Raceway in Concord and won his first track championship in 1991. The following year he acquired his first World Karting Association national title and then another in 1995.
He then advanced to the Allison Legacy Series, where he won the North Carolina state title in 1997. He ended the ‘97 racing season with his inaugural late model race at Concord Motorsports Park, a track where his victory total reached double digits over the next two years.
Rogers made his Hooters Pro Cup Series debut in 1999 and matured quickly into a formidable competitor on the circuit now known as the X-1R Pro Cup Series. In 177 career races, Rogers has produced 36 victories, a series-record 39 poles, 99 top-fives and 126 top-10s. He’s led 9,269 laps in 110 races, both series records.
His first Pro Cup championship came in 2004 and he followed with his second two years later. Rogers dominated the series in 2009 and 2010, capturing the title both years to tie Bobby Gill for the most series championships. Last year he broke Gill’s record.
“I thought being tied with Bobby Gill with four championships was a huge accomplishment in itself, being able to be tied with somebody who has a short-track career record like Bobby Gill,” Rogers said. “To be able to surpass something he did, I felt was pretty special.”
In addition to his accomplishments in the Pro Cup Series, Rogers has competed in 12 NASCAR Nationwide events and 36 Camping World Truck Series races, with his best finish in the latter being third in the season opener at Daytona in 2011. In 13 ARCA races, Rogers has recorded two top-fives and four top-10s with his best performance coming in 2012 at Iowa Speedway when he finished fourth.
Many drivers now buy rides in those series, paying a car owner to allow them to compete in their car or truck. It’s a trend that Rogers refuses to follow.
“I don’t pay to drive anything. I do this for a living. If I can’t drive something I can win in, then there’s no sense in me doing it anymore,” Rogers said.
Pro Cup Series moves
The X-1R Pro Cup Series offices have moved to a new location in Mooresville. Formerly located in Lakeside Business Park, the offices have relocated to 223 Mayfair Road in Mooresville. The series’ telephone numbers haven’t changed.