Perkinson named new driver for Cunningham Motorsports Ford

Buddy Perkinson has been named the new driver for Jim Cunningham Motorsports in 2011. Perkinson, 19, of Prince George, Va., will usher in the new year as one of NHRA’s newest professional drivers as he makes the jump from Comp eliminator to the ranks of Pro Stock piloting the team’s Jerry Haas-built Ford Mustang.

“Cunningham Motorsports welcomes Buddy Perkinson to our racing organization and we’re looking forward to the start of the 2011 NHRA season,” said long-time car owner and driver Jim Cunningham. “We’re adding some other additional personnel to the team in hopes of improving on our results from last year. We feel that Buddy will help us reach our goal for the up-coming season.”

Perkinson’s background comes from being an alumnus of the NHRA’s Jr. Drag Racing series before attending the Frank Hawley Drag Racing School to get his Super Comp license. He progressed up the ranks running Top Dragster and later attended the Roy Hill Drag Racing School to hone his skills behind the wheel of a Pro Stock car. Beginning in 2010, he ventured onto the Comp eliminator scene with Johnson and Russell Racing. Later, he made two semifinal appearances driving for family friend Larry Morgan, who Perkinson feels a great racing obligation to, before being granted his ultimate dream of driving a Pro Stock car in 2011 for Cunningham Motorsports.

“I know I’m young and have a lot to learn,” said Perkinson. “I know this is a great opportunity in the aspect of not having a lot of experience, so they can teach me what I need to learn and we can build off of that. To me, it’s a challenge that I’m very excited about. I’m going to study every part of the car to the best of my abilities. That’s a big plus for me to gather all the information I can.”

Perkinson will drive the team’s lone entry in 2010, but will have excellent tutelage in his bid as a rookie of the year candidate under 10-time NHRA Pro Stock champion and 85-time winner Bob Glidden, who drove the car last season.

“Bob Glidden has been around the sport forever and knows what I need to learn,” said Perkinson. “With having someone like Bob Glidden around the pits and behind the engine program, there’s an unlimited amount of knowledge that will only add a positive effect.”

Noted car-builder and renowned chassis man Haas was one of the major proponents in discussing with Cunningham and wife, Gloria, the possibilities in making the arrangements in placing Perkinson in the driver’s seat. His eye for talent has long been documented and Perkinson caught his attention while watching him as he drove his B/A Comp car.

“I’ve been around this sport for a long time and I know the people that I feel can go on to higher levels and watching Buddy race I had to say to myself, wow, this young man is really good and if he gets involved with the right team, he’s going to go places ,” said Haas. “I love having new people come into the sport and we really need them and when you have somebody like Buddy, it’s a win-win situation for the NHRA, for Buddy, for Jim Cunningham, and Ford Motor Company.

“Our product speaks for itself and we feel mighty grateful to have the people we have in the top-10 this past year. We’re proud of every one of our customers, but with Buddy coming in I think that is going to open it up and he’s going to move forward and he’ll be in the top-10 in 2011.”

Now it will up to Perkinson to manage himself in looking ahead for the season.

“I’m really looking forward to the 22 races in 2011,” said Perkinson. “I’ve raced probably around 16 to 18 races for the past five years. I guess that why they call it your rookie year with the understanding of the daily grind of keeping a competitive car running strong all-year long, but that won’t conceal my excitement. Winners, losers, champions, and heroes are made in the moment and I will have to prove myself every race. One day, I hope to be a champion and that’s my goal.

“Jim Cunningham wants to win and is putting people in the right places on the team to build a winning program. I never will be able to thank Mr. Cunningham or Jerry Haas enough for this great opportunity to begin my motorsports career with Cunningham Motorsports.”

Testing starts for Perkinson in January as he prepares for his debut at the 51st annual Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona on Feb. 24–27.


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