Andy Houston, 96 McDonalds’s team – Cal Wells Racing. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – 2000-2001
Andy Houston son of the legendary NASCAR Nationwide series driver Tommy Houston was expected to be a household name like his father. Unfortunately things didn’t quite work out for the younger Mr. Houston. Andy first gained notoriety in 1998 while driving for Addington Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Andy showed tremendous promise throughout the entire 1998 truck series campaign rolling off soild finishes leading up to his first career win at Loudon in August 1998. On that day Andy bested fellow rookie and future mega star Greg Biffle to capture his first career win in the series.
Greg Biffle and Andy Houston at the time(1998) appeared destin to embark on a lengthy rivalry that could potentially carry over into the Nationwide Series or Sprint Cup Series in the coming years. As the story goes we know Biffle would go on to become a major factor in both the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series, and not to mention winning championships in both Nationwide and truck series competition. Andy would be victimized by his early success in NASCAR competition.
In 2000 Andy Houston would make his first career Winston Cup series start driving for Cart series owner Cal Wells who earlier in the year joined the ranks of Cup series racing with former open wheel standout Scott Pruett. Things were really looking up for Houston in the year 2000 not only was he in the thick of a championship fight in the truck series, he was on the verge of landing a huge corporate deal to drive in the Winston Cup Series with fast food giant McDonald’s sponsoring the team’s efforts. Houston would run five races in the latter part of the 2000 season in preparation to run for the 2001 Winston Cup ROTY.
A year removed from scoring his best career truck series points finish (3rd) Andy Houston was set to drive the 96 Mcdonald’s ford for Cal Wells Racing. Although Houston was not the odds of favorite to win 2001 Winston Cup ROTY honors nobody could have imagined Houston struggling as bad as he did that season. Andy made the 2001 Daytona 500 qualifying 9th only to get caught up in the big one leading to a 38th place finish. Houston would miss the next two races before rolling off a 21st place finish at Atlanta the fourth race of the 2001 season. Houston would DNQ for 8 races in 2001. His best career finish would be 17th at the spring Martinsville race.
Houston’s failures were a product of moving up the rankings too soon without enough seasoning in the Truck series or Nationwide series. Although Andy Houston had a relatively successful truck series career, a few more seasons in the series could have better prepared him for a successful career in the two top NASCAR touring series. Houston also made the grave mistake of moving up to the cup series with a relatively unestablished team like Cal Wells Racing. Sadly we will never know what could have been for Andy Houston. Two negatives don’t make a positive.
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