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‘A DREAM COME TRUE’: Former kart competitor takes truck race win at Rockingham Speedway

Brandon Huff (No. 21) leads Jeremy Hill (No. 65) down the frontstretch of Rockingham Speedway on Sept. 24. Photos by William R. Toler, except where noted

ROCKINGHAM — Brandon Huff took the checkered flag and the $2,000 purse Saturday in the CRS Super Truck Series National Truck Invitational at Rockingham Speedway.

The race was part of a double-header with the FASS Big Rig Series, where each division alternated with two 15-lap sets, making each race 30 laps around the speedway’s mile-long oval.

Click here to read about the FASS race.

“It’s crazy enough to be able to come down here and race on a track like this, with such a legendary history,” said Huff, driver of the No. 21 truck, “…and then to win is all the better.

“It makes it a perfect day.”

The race was mostly without incident until Barney Gerber — in one of the two No. 3 trucks — blew an engine coming into the final lap.

Smoke billows from the hood of Barney Gerber’s No. 3 truck after pulling off of pit road heading to the garage. Photo by Russell Parker

Seven drivers started the race, earning $200, with Jeremy Hill and Mike Brooks finishing second and third, respectively.

Like most of the other race winners since the speedway’s revival in 2021, Huff is more used to half-mile — or smaller — tracks.

One of the main differences with running a larger track is the suspension setup, he said.

“We gotta really bump the springs up,” Huff said. “We’re running a lot softer springs to get traction and grip back home on the shorter tracks, but down here we’ve got to bump the springs up quite a bit just to keep the front end from bottoming out on the ground.

“Never been on a track this size and didn’t know what to expect,” he continued. “It was a good guess and worked out today, but, in the future, we’ll definitely have to change the setup a little bit more.”

Another challenge was the track itself.

“It’s got a lot of character with the old age,” Huff said. “You’ve got some bumps down on Turn(s) 1 and 2, and Turn(s) 3 and 4 — it just sucks you around the corner.

“The track’s got a lot of old characteristics to it and I like that, I like the challenge of that in a race track,” he continued. “With newer pavement, you can just drive around in circles all day long, but here you’ve got to fight it… (the) driver’s got a challenge all day long, so it makes it fun.”

Brandon Huff in the Papa Joe Hendrick Garage after the race.

Saturday wasn’t his first time at Rockingham.

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Huff, from East Palestine, Ohio, got his start racing go-karts in 1998 when he was 8 years old and in 2004 ran the World Karting Association Nationals on the infield road course.
“Just looking up at that one-mile track and the high banks, it’s wild,” Huff said about his visit as a 14-year-old. “You’re stunned looking at that as a teenager, now today, 18 years later, being able to go out there and run that track and then win on it — a dream come true.

The next year, he won two WKA National Championships, followed by a championship in each 2006 and 2007, according to his LinkedIn page. Huff raced Legend Cars from 2008-2010 and began driving in the ARCA Truck Series in 2011.

He also won the CRS Super Truck Championship in 2019.

Huff said he never would have imagined that he’d have a chance drive, much less win, at the Rock.

Seeing the older tracks like Rockingham and North Wilkesboro come back to life “and the enthusiasm behind it all is really exciting to see.”

“I grew up watching these tracks as a kid and just to be able to see these tracks back to life, that’s really cool, and that’s where the history was built in auto racing down South here and it’s cool to be at the rock and enjoy that.

“I just want to thank everybody that made it possible for us to be able to come down here and have fun,” Huff added. “It’s such an awesome track. Seeing this track on TV as a kid and you just dream to drive a track like this — and to be able to come down and do it, it’s just a dream come true to be able to do this.

“We’ve had a blast and hopefully look forward to doing it again one day.”

Brandon Huff poses in the winner’s circle after his win.

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.