Daytona's Protect Plus Halfway Leader to rookie Houff

Daytona's Protect Plus Halfway Leader to rookie Houff

TOLEDO, Ohio (Feb. 26, 2017) -- Rookie Quin Houff's Daytona debut was an adventure all the way through. Despite getting caught up in a late-race skirmish on the backstretch, the 19-year-old racer "learned a ton," and led 23 laps in the No. 98 Mason Mitchell Motorsports Chevrolet. Houff was also leading at the halfway mark, earning the Protect Plus Halfway Leader of the Race award.

One of the takeaways for Houff was that he knows he wants to do it again.

"I really want to run Talladega now," said Houff. "I'm very confident in the performance we had. With the experience of Kevin Reed and the input of Mason be surrounded by all that, I could be so confident. It's like a big chess match...loved the strategy that goes into it. I had a blast."

Houff also taught himself that he can handle the big tracks.

"I come from the short tracks. I haven't been on a track more than a half-mile. Now I feel like I can handle it and continue to chase this dream of being a professional race car driver."

Houff also appreciated the thrill of leading at Daytona and the learning experience in getting there.

"I felt like Mason Mitchell Motorsports brought a great race car. It meant a lot to be up front...I gained a lot of experience and learned a ton. It was fun to go out and let people know we were there...I'm blessed to have the experience.

"You learn a lot about the aero and the draft...sucking up and the side draft. Be sure you're not bump-drafting in the tri-oval like you're not supposed to and you're good. I learned to be smooth on the wheel...let the car do what it wants to do. I think it's easier to lead rather than be mired in the pack. Leading is a lot less stressful...being out front was more like a Sunday drive."

Houff hopes to get back behind the wheel of an ARCA car soon, but he's not sure when.

"Daytona was a one-race deal. I needed to make sure I could handle something like that, and do it on a big stage. Hopefully, our performance will attract some help. I'm waiting to see what's going to happen...nothing's stapled down yet."

Houff, from Mt. Sidney, Virginia, is already a winner on the CARS Late Model Stock Tour.

Don Radebaugh