Quin Houff: Journey to the NASCAR Cup Series

Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP Photo

By: Sarah Handy, Staff Writer 

NASCAR Cup Series Rookie driver of the No. 00 Chevrolet for StarCom Racing, Quin Houff is in his first full-time Cup season. The season may be on a temporary hiatus, but his journey to get to this point began as a hobby at the young age of eight.

All drivers have a story, this is Quin Houff’s story. 

The Early Days 

Houff, a Virginia native began racing go karts at a young age. 

“I started out at a local go kart track at age eight as a hobby with my dad and moved into local Mini-Cup racing shortly after,” stated Houff.

By thirteen, he had moved on to limited late model cars often competing at well-known South Boston Speedway.

When 2015 rolled around, Houff then 17 ran the entire CARS Super Late Model Series schedule. In 10 starts, he earned one win at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, NC.

He also had five top-five and seven top-10 finishes on the season.

Between 2016 and 2017, Houff made nine more starts in the series where he earned five top-five and eight top-10 finishes. 

“The cars tour was a great platform for me to learn race craft more and more every race,” Houff told Kickin’ the Tires. “They had a great schedule and talent show up every year. To be able to have that and be successful at it helped me a lot as a young driver.”

ARCA Menards Series

In 2017, Houff joined forces with Mason Mitchell Motorsports to run in the Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 at Daytona International Speedway. He rolled off the grid in 16th and would lead for 23 laps in the event. But, a crash on Lap-66 relegated him to disappointing 28th place finish. It was Houff’s only start in the series that year.

The following year, Houff once again competed for Mason Mitchell Motorsports. This time, the 20-year old competed in four events at Daytona, Charlotte, Michigan and Pocono. Houff’s best finish was sixth at Charlotte. Overall, he had two top-10 finishes in four starts.

Houff’s career to this point hasn’t seen him make a start in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, but he said he would consider the opportunity to race in the series if the right opportunity presented itself.

“I would never cross a racing vehicle off my list. My career path never landed me in the Gander Outdoor Truck Series,” said Houff. “But I love watching that series. The racing is some of the best of the weekend and those trucks look like a blast. I would be willing to give those a try one day if the opportunity presents itself.

NASCAR Xfinity Series 

That same year (2017), Houff would make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Bristol Motor Speedway driving the No. 46 BeatinCancerWithDuke.org Chevrolet for Precision Performance Motorsports.

Houff spoke about his time working with the Duke Cancer Institution in the past.

“I had a great opportunity to work with the Duke Cancer Institution to help raise money through my racing for cancer research,” recalled Houff. “As a thank you to Duke for helping my mother beat cancer for the second time and in honor of my Grandmother who we unfortunately lost in her second battle. Currently we are not raising money, but I wouldn’t say we won’t again especially if a sponsor or opportunity presents itself.”

He went on to finish 15th in his series debut. Houff made four more starts for the team that season with a best finish of 12th coming at Iowa Speedway.

(Photo By: Russell LaBounty/NKP)

Looking Back On His Xfinity Days 

Without a doubt, Houff told Kickin’ the Tires he remembers those races well.

“Absolutely I remember those races. Those races are what helped me get to where I am now,” said Houff. “People thought I was crazy to debut in the Xfinity Series at Bristol with a small part-time team. Obviously, it paid off for us and to knock down more solid finishes after that was gratifying!”

With a difference between the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Cup Series, Houff explained the difference to him personally. 

“The biggest difference from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series to me is not only the length of the races but the pace of the races,” Houff said. “You would think with these races being so long there would be points where the pace would feel slower, but these are the 40 best stock car drivers in the world. They never let up, so there was an adjustment to that right out of the gate.”

NASCAR Cup Series 

At the beginning of the 2019 season, Quin Houff announced he would drive Spire Motorsports No. 77 Chevrolet on a part-time basis. He also announced his series debut would take place at Phoenix Raceway. Houff went on to finish 30th in his debut at NASCAR’s elite level that March.

(Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP Photo)

He went on to compete in 16 additional races last season. His best finish of 28th came in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway last May.

Then last November, StarCom Racing announced that Houff would drive the teams No. 00 Chevrolet on a full-time basis during both the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

StarCom Racing signs Quin Houff as full-time 00 driver

A two-year contract deal is something that is reassuring for the young driver.

“It’s definitely reassuring to have a two-year contract,” expressed Houff. “I know that I can really get connected with this team and be more prepared than ever heading into next season with the NextGen car. I look forward to being one of the drivers that gets to turn the page if you will with NASCAR to the next great thing!”

Also, guidance from Team Manager, Derrike Cope has been beneficial for him as well. 

“It is extremely helpful to have someone like Derrike who has been so hands on in the sport in every category in your corner,” Houff said. “He is a big help for me as a rookie, to listen to and bounce ideas off of.”

(Derrike Cope, Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP Photo)

Race Preparations and Learning 

Preparation for athletes is key and race car drivers are no different.

They can prepare for upcoming races in different ways but many use iRacing as it’s the closest thing to the real on-track activity that one can get. Drivers may also review data from races they’ve competed in and film, Houff is no different and explained what’s the normal for him when preparing for upcoming events.

“StarCom gives me great tools to prepare for tracks I have never been to with SMT data,” said Houff. “It shows me exactly what each driver did at each track from their line to their throttle / brake pedal input. I also have a great partner out of Richmond VA called Sim Seats. They are hooking me up with a top of the line iRacing setup to help me further prepare for each race. Lastly, I always watch film, just like any other sport watching film can teach you a lot!”

Furthermore, Houff also explained how important communication is when it comes to success.

“Communication is huge in success in our sport,” expressed Houff. “I have been going to the shop when I can since I got signed this past off season and getting to know each of our guys and girls more and more every week. At StarCom, we have a lot of great personality and talent. I can’t wait to see all of us come together as the season goes on and lead to more and more success.”

Seize Each Opportunity 

Never knowing when his next race would come along, Houff has learned to seize each and every opportunity that has come his way and to take each race week by week.

“I have always said in my career to this point to just take races one week at a time. To seize each and every opportunity that is presented each week,” said Houff. “I have had this mentality because up until this point in my career I didn’t know when the next chance I would have to be behind the wheel of a race car again. So now, even being full time I think this mentality will still work. If I take advantage of every opportunity each week for 38 weeks the results will show in the end.”

Race Day

Houff stated to Kickin’ the Tires that race day has multiple races in it for him and StarCom Racing. 

“Each race on Sunday has multiple races in it and as a driver you have to realize which race realistically you are running,” Houff said. “Being a smaller team, we can’t afford to go out there, over step our boundaries and tear up race cars and equipment. However, we know the cars we can beat and run the smartest race we can to do that.”

2020 Season Thus Far 

The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season has a stacked Rookie of the Year class. The drivers include Quin Houff as well as Christopher Bell, John Hunter Nemechek, Brennan Poole, Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick. Houff and StarCom Racing’s goals for this season remain a little different from their competitors. However, he is still honored to be on the ballot this year.

“I think this is one of the strongest rookie classes the Cup Series has seen in quite some time,” Houff said. “It’s an honor to be on that ballot. Obviously, our teams realistic goals may be a little different from others, but I know if we keep our heads down and work hard, we will be proud of the results.”

In four starts, Houff’s best finish is 32nd in the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He sits 35th in the driver points standings. 

(#00: Quin Houff, StarCom Racing, Victory Weekend Chevrolet Camaro at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Photo By: Nigel Kinrade Photography / NKP)

 

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