COPPER HILL, VA :: Last season, Michael Rouse found himself sitting in victory lane at Southern National Motorsports Park.  This season, Rouse hopes to visit victory lane more often as he plans to compete in the Dirty Dozen.

Rouse, who drives for a family owned operation, has competed in Late Model Stock Car racing for seven years.  He’s competed in the UARA-STARS tour where he has won a race and has experience at almost every track in the region.  Now, Rouse has his sights set on the North Carolina State Championship.

“We’d like to win the State Championship,” Rouse said.  “The competition at Southern National is definitely more enjoyable.  The more competition there is, the better.  The last couple years, everyone good has run here.

“We’re shooting for five to eight wins this season.  I want to win every once in a while for sure instead of just once a year.  We’ve got a new car and we’re working with new people, so we’re stepping our program up a little bit.”

Rouse may have only had one win but his lone victory was a popular one.  Deac McCaskill had been dominating the races at Southern National throughout the early part of the 2012 season, so Southern National put a bounty on the line.  Rouse collected the bounty with a late race pass on McCaskill to win the race.

Despite only winning the bounty race, Rouse ran strong all season.  Rouse scored eight top-five finished and 17 top-ten finishes in the regular season at Southern National.  In the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic, Rouse put up a respectable ninth place finish.

Racing is in Rouse’s blood.  He says he’s been around it his whole life.

“My dad’s been building race motors for 25 years,” Rouse explained.  “I started out that way.  My grandfather raced at Wilson County Fairgrounds.  I’ve always been around it.”

Rouse was excited when Southern National reopened.

“That was great to see it reopen,” Rouse stated. “We live five miles from the track so we tested at least once a week.  A couple new guys came on with us and it helped us out a bunch.”

Last season, he ran solid all season long with a low budget effort.  When the money’s on the line, Rouse is a factor.  In 2013, Rouse could certainly be a contender all season.  The focus is there for the veteran driver.

Rouse plans on testing the car on Thursday during Southern National’s open testing.

The first race in the Dirty Dozen, and in the “regular season” of Late Model Stock Car racing season is on Saturday, March 2nd at Southern National Motorsports Park. will be there for the start of the new season with Five Star RaceCar Bodies Live Coverage of the Southern National Motorsports Park season opener on March 1st for practice and March 2nd for the season opening race.