Best Of 2014: K&N Pro West

Best Of 2014: K&N Pro West

Pursley Goes Out With Second Title; Young Talent Shows Promise

See video

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – There is no better way to finish off a career than lifting the championship trophy over your head one last time.

For 46-year-old Greg Pursley, 2014 provided a storybook ending to a highly-decorated career.

The Newhall, California, driver had his hands full all season with some of the top young talent in the sport. And in the end, it was a near flawless season that delivered car owner Gene Price his third championship in four years and closed out a remarkable run.

It was fitting that in Pursley’s final race in November at Phoenix International Raceway, that Nick Drake – at the time just over a month shy of his 19th birthday – would end up in Victory Lane for his first NASCAR win.

Drake joined James Bickford, Christian PaHud, Chris Eggleston and Patrick Staropoli as first-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series winners in 2014. And the line of young talented drivers that immediately followed Drake across the finish line at Phoenix – Gray Gaulding, Cole Custer, Jesse Little and Dylan Lupton all made the top five and are all under 21 – is a testament to the fact Pursley is leaving the sport in good hands.

VIDEO: GREG PURSLEY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Top Driver
Greg Pursley:
Pursley had an unbeatable season. In addition to his two victories, he nearly snared two more. He finished in the top five in 11 of the 14 races and collected three Coors Light Pole Awards. Pursley led a series-high 454 laps and completed 1,800 of the 1,804 laps of competition for crew chief Jerry Pitts and Price’s No. 26 Gene Price Motorsports/Star Nursery/Real Water Ford. Pursley won the first race at Bakersfield’s Kern County Raceway Park and only a late-race penalty for jumping the restart prevented a sweep of the California track. He added a win as the highest finishing West driver at Iowa Speedway in August. Pursley logged 16 races in parts of four seasons between 1999 and 2008, including a full year in 2002 when he finished ninth in points. He’s raced full-time since 2009 and in that time he racked up 20 wins, 56 top fives, 70 top 10s in 83 races with two championships.

Dylan Lupton (Honorable Mention): A win, nine top fives – including six podium finishes – and a top 10 in all 14 starts would typically produce a championship season. Unfortunately, Lupton’s incredible sophomore season in the No. 9 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford for Bob Bruncati was not enough to supplant Pursley atop the K&N Pro West standings. For the 21-year-old NASCAR Next driver from Wilton, California, though, it was plenty impressive. Not only did Lupton complete all but one lap, he was in contention for a win in nearly every race and proved a worthy season-long challenger to Pursley.

Comback Driver of the Year
David Mayhew:
  The 32-year-old from Atascadero, California, hadn’t run a full season since 2010 when he finished second in the championship standings. Last year featured his fewest appearances (five) while he also claimed the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I track championship at the newly-opened Kern. Returning full-time, Mayhew notched a series-leading four wins to go with nine top fives and three Coors Light Pole Awards to finish third in the championship standings.

Top Team
No. 99 Bill McAnally Racing:
Had they run the entire season, Bill McAnally’s second car may have challenged for the owner’s championship. Instead, the No. 99 Toyota had to settle for collecting race trophies. Staropoli, winner of last year’s PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge, put the car in Victory Lane at California’s Irwindale Speedway in its first appearance in March. Eggleston, with NAPA Filters/H20 on the hood, won in the car at his home track of Colorado National Speedway in July. And 2014 PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge winner PaHud won in his first career start at All American Speedway in Roseville, California, in October. With NAPA Auto Parts back on the car, Drake closed the year with a fourth win. In just eight races, the No. 99 had seven top fives and eight top 10s in addition to tying the No. 17 for series wins with four.

Sunrise Ford Racing (Honorable Mention): Bruncati continues to field a two-car effort to provide exposure and opportunities to young drivers. This year, Lupton and Bickford combined for two wins, 17 top fives and 24 top 10s in 28 starts. Bickford, in addition to scoring his first career win, brought home the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award and finished fifth in the championship standings. It marked the fourth time since 2007 a Bruncati driver took home the top rookie honors, with Lupton winning the award in 2013.

2014_nknps-west_yir_mcanally_99_team_123014

In just eight races, Bill McAnally’s No. 99 scored four wins by four different drivers: Patrick Staropoli, Chris Eggleston, Christian PaHud and Nick Drake. Getty Images for NASCAR

Top Breakthrough Performance
James Bickford:
The 16-year-old from Napa, California, made the big jump from running the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at All American Speedway and got off to a rough start. He finished 25th, 15th and 10th in his first three starts. Bickford, however, showed rapid progress: In his next 10 races, he had eight top five finishes and nine top 10s. His only hiccup was a transmission failure in his first road-course race at Sonoma, and he finished third in his next road-course race in Utah.

Thomas Martin (Honorable Mention): The 36-year-old Auburn, California, driver finished sixth in the championship standings in his first full season in the NASCAR K&N Pro West. Prior to 2014, Martin had logged 16 starts across five seasons. Running for car owners Jack Sellers and Charlie Silva, Martin posted a pair of top five finishes and seven top 10s in the No. 5 Med Active Relief for Dry Mouth/Racers Drive Chevrolet. Martin completed 98.9% (1,782) of the laps run and had just one DNF.

Top Races
Toyota/NAPA 150, All American Speedway, Oct. 11:
Inside or outside? The preferred restart lane changed as the race went on, leaving PaHud, McReynolds, Bickford and Pursley to play a high-stakes guessing game. In the end, it was PaHud who chose right in his first NASCAR K&N Pro race and ended up in Victory Lane. He led twice for a race-high 29 laps and took the lead for good from McReynolds on a Lap 126 restart. Bickford got by McReynolds late but ran out of laps to chase down the winner.

NAPA Auto Parts 150, Irwindale Speedway, March 22: The series returned to the graduated-banking of the Los Angeles area half-mile and put on quite a show. The race had five lead changes amond five drivers. Some of the expected challengers dropped back in the field early to conserve tires – Brett Thompson led a race-high 102 laps – which led to some exciting racing throughout the field over the final 75 laps as the fast cars tried to make their way back to the front. Staropoli, making just his sixth career start, took the lead from McReynolds on Lap 137 and scored his first NASCAR win.

2014_nknps-west_yir_action_123014

Variable banking and various tire strategies made March’s race at Irwindale Speedway one of the most exciting of the season. Getty Images for NASCAR

Best Of 2014: K&N Pro West

Best Of 2014: K&N Pro West

Pursley Goes Out With Second Title; Young Talent Shows Promise

See video

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – There is no better way to finish off a career than lifting the championship trophy over your head one last time.

For 46-year-old Greg Pursley, 2014 provided a storybook ending to a highly-decorated career.

The Newhall, California, driver had his hands full all season with some of the top young talent in the sport. And in the end, it was a near flawless season that delivered car owner Gene Price his third championship in four years and closed out a remarkable run.

It was fitting that in Pursley’s final race in November at Phoenix International Raceway, that Nick Drake – at the time just over a month shy of his 19th birthday – would end up in Victory Lane for his first NASCAR win.

Drake joined James Bickford, Christian PaHud, Chris Eggleston and Patrick Staropoli as first-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series winners in 2014. And the line of young talented drivers that immediately followed Drake across the finish line at Phoenix – Gray Gaulding, Cole Custer, Jesse Little and Dylan Lupton all made the top five and are all under 21 – is a testament to the fact Pursley is leaving the sport in good hands.

VIDEO: GREG PURSLEY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Top Driver
Greg Pursley:
Pursley had an unbeatable season. In addition to his two victories, he nearly snared two more. He finished in the top five in 11 of the 14 races and collected three Coors Light Pole Awards. Pursley led a series-high 454 laps and completed 1,800 of the 1,804 laps of competition for crew chief Jerry Pitts and Price’s No. 26 Gene Price Motorsports/Star Nursery/Real Water Ford. Pursley won the first race at Bakersfield’s Kern County Raceway Park and only a late-race penalty for jumping the restart prevented a sweep of the California track. He added a win as the highest finishing West driver at Iowa Speedway in August. Pursley logged 16 races in parts of four seasons between 1999 and 2008, including a full year in 2002 when he finished ninth in points. He’s raced full-time since 2009 and in that time he racked up 20 wins, 56 top fives, 70 top 10s in 83 races with two championships.

Dylan Lupton (Honorable Mention): A win, nine top fives – including six podium finishes – and a top 10 in all 14 starts would typically produce a championship season. Unfortunately, Lupton’s incredible sophomore season in the No. 9 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford for Bob Bruncati was not enough to supplant Pursley atop the K&N Pro West standings. For the 21-year-old NASCAR Next driver from Wilton, California, though, it was plenty impressive. Not only did Lupton complete all but one lap, he was in contention for a win in nearly every race and proved a worthy season-long challenger to Pursley.

Comback Driver of the Year
David Mayhew:
  The 32-year-old from Atascadero, California, hadn’t run a full season since 2010 when he finished second in the championship standings. Last year featured his fewest appearances (five) while he also claimed the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I track championship at the newly-opened Kern. Returning full-time, Mayhew notched a series-leading four wins to go with nine top fives and three Coors Light Pole Awards to finish third in the championship standings.

Top Team
No. 99 Bill McAnally Racing:
Had they run the entire season, Bill McAnally’s second car may have challenged for the owner’s championship. Instead, the No. 99 Toyota had to settle for collecting race trophies. Staropoli, winner of last year’s PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge, put the car in Victory Lane at California’s Irwindale Speedway in its first appearance in March. Eggleston, with NAPA Filters/H20 on the hood, won in the car at his home track of Colorado National Speedway in July. And 2014 PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge winner PaHud won in his first career start at All American Speedway in Roseville, California, in October. With NAPA Auto Parts back on the car, Drake closed the year with a fourth win. In just eight races, the No. 99 had seven top fives and eight top 10s in addition to tying the No. 17 for series wins with four.

Sunrise Ford Racing (Honorable Mention): Bruncati continues to field a two-car effort to provide exposure and opportunities to young drivers. This year, Lupton and Bickford combined for two wins, 17 top fives and 24 top 10s in 28 starts. Bickford, in addition to scoring his first career win, brought home the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award and finished fifth in the championship standings. It marked the fourth time since 2007 a Bruncati driver took home the top rookie honors, with Lupton winning the award in 2013.

2014_nknps-west_yir_mcanally_99_team_123014

In just eight races, Bill McAnally’s No. 99 scored four wins by four different drivers: Patrick Staropoli, Chris Eggleston, Christian PaHud and Nick Drake. Getty Images for NASCAR

Top Breakthrough Performance
James Bickford:
The 16-year-old from Napa, California, made the big jump from running the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at All American Speedway and got off to a rough start. He finished 25th, 15th and 10th in his first three starts. Bickford, however, showed rapid progress: In his next 10 races, he had eight top five finishes and nine top 10s. His only hiccup was a transmission failure in his first road-course race at Sonoma, and he finished third in his next road-course race in Utah.

Thomas Martin (Honorable Mention): The 36-year-old Auburn, California, driver finished sixth in the championship standings in his first full season in the NASCAR K&N Pro West. Prior to 2014, Martin had logged 16 starts across five seasons. Running for car owners Jack Sellers and Charlie Silva, Martin posted a pair of top five finishes and seven top 10s in the No. 5 Med Active Relief for Dry Mouth/Racers Drive Chevrolet. Martin completed 98.9% (1,782) of the laps run and had just one DNF.

Top Races
Toyota/NAPA 150, All American Speedway, Oct. 11:
Inside or outside? The preferred restart lane changed as the race went on, leaving PaHud, McReynolds, Bickford and Pursley to play a high-stakes guessing game. In the end, it was PaHud who chose right in his first NASCAR K&N Pro race and ended up in Victory Lane. He led twice for a race-high 29 laps and took the lead for good from McReynolds on a Lap 126 restart. Bickford got by McReynolds late but ran out of laps to chase down the winner.

NAPA Auto Parts 150, Irwindale Speedway, March 22: The series returned to the graduated-banking of the Los Angeles area half-mile and put on quite a show. The race had five lead changes amond five drivers. Some of the expected challengers dropped back in the field early to conserve tires – Brett Thompson led a race-high 102 laps – which led to some exciting racing throughout the field over the final 75 laps as the fast cars tried to make their way back to the front. Staropoli, making just his sixth career start, took the lead from McReynolds on Lap 137 and scored his first NASCAR win.

2014_nknps-west_yir_action_123014

Variable banking and various tire strategies made March’s race at Irwindale Speedway one of the most exciting of the season. Getty Images for NASCAR

Change is Good, But So is Sports Tradition

With the exception of a few critical monitors, the pit road officials will be replaced by cameras in 2015.

With the exception of a few critical monitors, the pit road officials will be replaced by cameras in 2015.

“Sports tradition is as American as apple pie recipes on Instagram” — Junior Johnson

In a previous life, when I learned that multiple speeding tickets resulted in a conversation with a judge, rather than a conversation regarding me strapping in as a replacement driver for the #3 GM GoodWrench Service Plus Chevrolet Monte Carlo, I began researching alternate methods of being up close to my favorite sport. 

Outside of purchasing my own car and equipment, procuring sponsors and hiring a crew, there were only two alternatives: Move to North Carolina, get a job with a major team, sweep floors, tote sheet metal — ‘gopher work’ — until I was promoted to hauler driver or crew member, OR (and this seemed easier), get a job as a NASCAR official.  

Working as an official, I reasoned, would be just as good, as I would get to wear a cool fire suit, and a headset/radio, and have the best seat for every event and get paid for it. Glad it was a previous life. You see, for 2015, the job of pit road official is obsolete. 

While the need for live officials will never be eliminated, the need has definitely been reduced by the implementation of video officiating on pit road. See? I would have been out of work again. 

To be sure, this decision isn’t a reflection of the type of job the officials were doing. Officiating pit road isn’t an easy job, by any stretch of the imagination. But pit road is a congested place, and even the most experienced eyes in the world can’t monitor everything at once. 

For example, is it humanly possible to watch the crews’ feet to ensure they don’t hit the ground outside the wall UNTIL their car crosses the back line of its own pit stall every time? What about counting the pit stalls a car crosses before stopping in its own, making sure its no more than 3? 

I have yet to see an official make a ‘bad’ call, because there IS a layer of redundancy in that Race Control has the final say in everything, but sometimes, ‘no’ call isn’t ‘good’.

Can cameras add or detract from pit road safety?

Can cameras add or detract from pit road safety?

Example: If one second on pit road equals 300 feet on the racetrack, then a half second advantage in the pits equals 150 feet of track position. This is a very over-simplified example. 

The bottom line is that there are now less people on pit road in harm’s way. 

But, let’s not kid ourselves, money has a lot to do with it. Paying all those officials costs a ton. The cameras are a one time hit and then set-up expense at each track. It cost less.

No one can argue that technology hasn’t benefitted the sport. Gone are the days when drivers could contest their position by pulling alongside another car until the final say came down from Race Control. 

Scoring loops track every position with absolute accuracy and leave no ambiguity on who was where when a caution came out. There is no longer a need to compare stopwatches when there may be an instance of a car coming in too hot to pit road. The loops don’t lie. Which is why, in my roundabout manner I say that ultimately this change is for the better. 

If there is one aspect an ‘Eye In The Sky’ improves, it is safety. Frankly, that’s enough justification for ANY change. But it also ensures consistency, which improves competition, and that’s the point. 

By ensuring that all teams are adhering to the same standards, there can be no question of an unfair advantage. Questionable integrity is not good for any sport. 

When I’m not writing about the sport, I sometimes fall into the ‘Traditionalist Fan’ category. I emphatically stated that scoring loops were a horrible idea, because now the car number on the roof no longer needed to be positioned facing the infield, which would screw up the look of the cars. 

When the Chase was introduced, I questioned why non-championship drivers would even want to enter the final 10 races. But this is no longer a bootleg sport with bootleg competitors. 

Some of us traditionalists forget why certain things are the way they are while railing against changing them. For example, why do crews fuel the racecar using cans, when other racing series have different fuel delivery methods? It began with fuel tanks. 

NASCAR mandated a 22 gallon fuel tank for parity’s sake, so crews began adding ridiculous amounts of fuel line to hold additional fuel. When NASCAR caught on, they mandated that no more than 22 gallons of fuel could be added per pit stop, and enforced that rule by mandating the fuel can we see today (and let’s be honest, there were sponsorship dollars attached to that, but that’s an different article for a different day).

I sometimes think that it’s the cat and mouse game teams play with NASCAR to gain a competitive advantage that I enjoy, rather than the results. 

But no discussion of this sort would be complete without a quick point about current NASCAR leadership. Sometimes, when I’m wearing my traditionalist hat, I really think Brian France is hell bent on making sudden right turns with the sport in its entirety.

Perhaps its the secrecy in which leadership makes their decisions, or perhaps its the influence they wield on all aspects of the sport. 

Perhaps its hearing, time and again, that no changes are forthcoming, only to learn afterwards that changes were indeed forthcoming.

I understand the sport must change with the times to stay relevant. I get that. NASCAR is the #2 sport in the US, though I think they’re kind of like the band Nickleback: Everyone and their brother say they hate them, but Nickleback sells a lot of records. 

Note to Brian France: If Nickleback EVER plays a NASCAR event, we’re through.  

 

Best Of 2014: Whelen Modified Tour

Best Of 2014: Whelen Modified Tour

Coby’s Second Title In Three Years; Bonsignore, Pitkat Break Out

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Doug Coby capped the 2014 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season with his second title in three years, and in the process became just the fifth multi-time titlist in the 30-year history of the tour.

Coby, who captured his first crown in 2012 with Darling Racing, made the move to MS III Racing for the 2014 campaign amid high expectations. The pairing experienced immediate success when they won in their debut in the preseason UNOH Battle At The Beach on the short track at Daytona International Speedway in February, and the championship chase quickly took off once points racing got underway.

The Milford, Connecticut, native Coby’s run at a second crown wasn’t the only story of 2014 though. The 13-race slate produced seven different winners – including three first-time victors – and for the seventh season in a row the championship wasn’t decided until the finale.

SEASON STATISTICAL REVIEW  |  VIDEO: DOUG COBY’S CHAMPIONSHIP ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Top Driver
Doug Coby:
  Coby joined elite company with his second Whelen Modified Tour title, and while this one was earned in a different manner – one win versus five in his 2012 championship – the process was still the same: consistent top finishes. Coby posted tour highs for podiums (6), top fives (9), top 10s (12) and laps completed (2,011 of 2,013). His one win came in dominant fashion as he led 122 of 130 laps in the second visit of the season to Stafford Motor Speedway, and he had the No. 2 Chevrolet positioned as a threat to win in nearly every single race.

Justin Bonsignore (Honorable Mention):  The fifth-year competitor registered his finest career performance as he tied for the tour lead with three wins and finished a personal best third place in the final standings. Bonsignore won the season-opener at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and carried the points lead through three of the first four races. He tied career highs for poles (2), top fives (7) and top 10s (10), and also gained distinction as the winner of the first caution-free race in Whelen Modified Tour history when he took the checkered flag at Monadnock Speedway.

Comeback Driver of the Year
Ted Christopher:
  It wasn’t a comeback season in the literal sense for Christopher, he hadn’t gone anywhere, but it was a campaign that saw him return to championship contention. When the green flag dropped at the season finale, the veteran had a mathematical shot to walk away with the title at the end of the day, a position he hadn’t been in since his lone championship season of 2008. A second crown wasn’t in the works as he encountered multiple issues in the event, but Christopher more than proved that he was back on the scene as a title contender.

Ryan Preece (Honorable Mention):  For the defending champion, it was a comeback within the season itself. Preece ranked sixth in the standings with no wins after 11 events, but rode to victory in both races to conclude the campaign, and what looked to be a lost season resulted in a championship runner-up. With the pair of victories, he became just the fifth driver in Whelen Modified Tour history to win both the Stafford Fall Final and Thompson World Series in the same season.

Top Team
MS III Racing:
  Twice the championship runner-ups prior to Coby’s arrival, MS III Racing finally broke through for its first title since team owner Mike Smeriglio III founded the organization in 2006. Under the guidance of crew chief Phil Moran, the No. 2 Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair/HEX Performance Chevrolet led the Whelen Modified Tour in nearly every statistical category and held the points lead following 10 of the last 11 events on the schedule.

M3 Racing (Honorable Mention):  Bonsignore may have had a career year as a driver, but it was the work of his M3 Racing teammates that put a highly-competitive No. 51 chem3.com Chevrolet underneath him race after race. The team earned top-five finishes in six of the season’s first nine races and the No. 51 ran at the front of the field in four of 13 outings.

Top Breakthrough Performance
Woody Pitkat:
  When it was all said and done, Pitkat finished in the same points position he had the year before, and actually had two less top 10s, but it was a transformational year for the veteran. After seven seasons of mostly full-time competition, Pitkat scored the first two race and pole wins of his career, and registered a personal-best five top fives. The long-awaited first win appropriately came at his hometown track, Stafford, in the August event and he reached Victory Lane on the tour’s biggest stage three races later in the September New Hampshire race. 2014 was the year Pitkat became a contender.

Tommy Barrett Jr. (Honorable Mention):  On the opposite end of the spectrum as Pitkat, the rookie Barrett made his breakthrough in his first full season of Whelen Modified Tour competition. Barrett became the first true rookie to win on the tour since 2006 when he scored a convincing victory in the annual combination race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Contrary to conventional wisdom, he also quickly adapted to time trial qualifying with a pole in the second race of the season and registered six top-five starting positions.

Top Races
Sunoco 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, July 12:
  There’s always plenty of racing magic when the modifieds hit the “Magic Mile,” and 2014 was no exception. The Whelen Modified Tour’s 58th all-time points race at NHMS was a record-breaker as the lead swapped 35 times at the line to set the tour’s all-time mark. In the second and final green-white-checkered flag finish attempt, Christopher was well positioned to add to his Loudon lore as he led at the white flag, but Bobby Santos made the decisive pass on the last lap and won a drag race to the finish line by a 0.065 second over Coby in the closest finish of the campaign.

NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford Motor Speedway, April 27 (Honorable Mention):  It was the third win in the last four editions of the Spring Sizzler for Santos, but his hardest to earn. Santos had to skillfully hold off a hard-charging Coby in the closing circuits, which included using a lap car as a pick on the final lap to secure the win. The Spring Sizzler had the second-closest margin of victory of the season at 0.122 seconds, behind only the aforementioned July New Hampshire event, and the seven lead changes were the most in a Stafford race in four years.

The Stafford Spring Sizzler was one of the closest competitions of the season. Getty Images for NASCAR

Best Of 2014: Canadian Tire Series

Best Of 2014: Canadian Tire Series

First Title For Dumoulin; Hathaway Wins A Pair Of Barn-Burners

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The compact five month journey that was the 2014 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 season once again produced many memorable moments and performances, none more notable than those of first-time champion L.P. Dumoulin.

Dumoulin became the fourth different driver in series history to capture the title. In just his third full-time season, the former sports car racer capitalized on two personal milestone visits to Victory Lane en route to the crown: a hometown win in the prestigious Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres, and his first oval track triumph was earned at Saskatoon’s Auto Clearing Motor Speedway.

The Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, native Dumoulin maintained command of the points lead for more than half of the season, but his championship bid was not unchallenged. Behind a career-high three victories, J.R. Fitzpatrick contended until the final laps of the campaign and came up just three tallies shy.

The points race between Dumoulin and Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only story of 2014, however. The 11-race slate produced six different winners – including four different multi-race victors – and six were decided by a margin of victory of less than four-tenths of a second. There were six series race records and eight individual marks were extended or established.

SEASON STATISTICAL REVIEW (PDF)  |  VIDEO: TSN SEASON REVIEW

Top Driver
L.P. Dumoulin:
  The series champion is a natural selection for the season’s top driver. Dumoulin registered those two wins and led the series with nine top fives. A midseason run of five consecutive podiums propelled him into the championship lead, and he maintained sole possession of the top spot through the final seven events of the year. VIDEO: L.P. DUMOULIN’S CHAMPIONSHIP ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

J.R. Fitzpatrick (Honorable Mention):  The points runner-up tied Dumoulin for the series lead with 11 top-10 finishes, but bested the champion by a win and two poles. Like Dumoulin the year before, Fitzpatrick swept the two events at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and added a third victory in the finale. Voted the series’ Most Popular Driver, Fitzpatrick led six races for 377 laps.

Comeback Driver of the Year
Andrew Ranger:
  After making just three starts in a part-time role in 2013, the two-time titlist stormed back into full-time action this season with a pair of wins and a series-best three poles. Ranger was dominant in victory at Circuit ICAR and returned to the Winner’s Circle five days later in the inaugural Edmonton International Raceway event, which marked his first oval triumph since 2009.

Alex Tagliani (Honorable Mention):  Following open wheel fame, Tagliani returned to run a Canadian Tire Series slate for the first time since 2008. He competed in nine of 11 races in 2014 and finished ninth in points with three top 10s. Tagliani earned the pole and led a career-high 268 laps at Edmonton and posted top fives at both ICAR and Saskatoon.

Top Team
Fitzpatrick Motorsports:
Although they didn’t take home the big trophy at the conclusion of the campaign, the No. 84 Equipment Express/Autism Speaks Chevrolet team behind Fitzpatrick put up impressive numbers. Fitzpatrick Motorsports recorded a series-high three wins, tied for the lead in top 10s and laps completed, and ranked second behind only Ranger with two poles.

King Autosport (Honorable Mention): The champions were as consistent as you can get, with top 10s each time out, and only two results outside the top five. Like Fitzpatrick, Dumoulin’s No. 47 WeatherTech Canada/Bellemare Dodge team completed all but one lap the series contested in 2014.

Top Breakthrough Performance
Donald Chisholm:
  In 15 previous series starts through 2013, the part-time competitor had led a grand total of 20 laps with one podium finish. On Aug. 16 at his home track, Riverside International Speedway, Chisholm had the breakout of all breakouts as he led 103 laps and ran away with a dominant first career victory. Chisholm’s performance was so strong that for an extended period late in the event, he had lapped all but one other competitor in the event.

Marc-Antoine Camirand (Honorable Mention):  Following a pair of starts in his 2013 debut season, Camirand competed in five races this year and exhibited plenty of potential. He started on the front row for back-to-back events – including his first career pole in the famed Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres – and recorded his first career podium finish in the series’ second visit to CTMP.

Top Races
VIDEO Wahta Springs 300 at Barrie Speedway, Sept. 6:
  When the leaders are side-by-side entering Turn 4 of the final lap in a short-track event, anything can happen, and that’s the situation Fitzpatrick and Jason Hathaway treated fans to at Barrie. The race featured eight lead changes, and seven were between Fitzpatrick and Hathaway, including two in the last three laps. Coming to the checkered flag, Fitzpatrick had a nose in front entering Turn 3, but Hathaway used his inside position to power off of Turn 4 for the win.

VIDEO Budweiser 300 at Autodrome Chaudiere, June 15 (Honorable Mention):  Hathaway had a flare for the dramatic in 2014. In addition to Barrie, his other win was also a barn-burner. In the series’ inaugural event at the northern Quebec quarter-mile, Hathaway and Mark Dilley traded the lead six times, including twice during a green-white-checkered flag finish that saw Hathaway come out on top.

It was a two-horse race for the title in 2014 between Dumoulin (47) and Fitzpatrick (84). Getty Images for NASCAR

Best of 2014: Mexico Series

Best of 2014: Mexico Series

Calderón’s Star Shines Brightest During Desafío

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In 2014, Mexico’s premier motorsports series was once again home to some of the most exciting NASCAR racing around the globe as the NASCAR Mexico Series wrapped up its eighth year under the NASCAR banner. From the season-opener at Phoenix International Raceway to the intense finale at Puebla, Mexico’s Autódromo Miguel E. Abed, the year was a constant showcase by the series’ drivers of the passion-fueled racing taking place south of the U.S. border.

Seven different drivers won a race during the 15-race calendar, but it was the year-long consistency and timely racing of Abraham Calderón that rose above all, helping the Monterrey, Mexico, native claim his first championship and fifth series crown for Telcel Racing.

Calderón’s championship wrapped up another strong year for the series in which nine different venues held at least one series event, including two races at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City. The famed track in the nation’s capital, which played host to the NASCAR Nationwide Series from 2005-08, will be closed for repairs and upgrades throughout most of the 2015 season and has hosted at least one series event since 2004.

Top Driver

Abraham Calderón – The 26-year-old began 2014, his first full season with Telcel with a 12th place finish in the Toyota 120 at Phoenix. He then went on a stretch where he finished inside the top 10 in six of nine events, including a runner-up finish in Mexico City and a fifth-place effort at Aguascalientes. He ranked sixth through the 10-race regular season, but took his racing to another level during the Desafío. Calderón opened the playoffs with three top fives, including two runner-up finishes in Chihuahua and Aguascalientes. He capped the five-race sprint for the championship with a pair of seventh-place efforts, finishing nine points ahead the rest of the field en route to the series crown.

VIDEO: Abraham Calderón’s acceptance speech at NASCAR Touring Series Night of Champions 

Daniel Suárez (honorable mention) – The Monterrey native began the year as the hottest NASCAR driver in the sport, winning the season opener just two weeks after back-to-back wins in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at New Smyrna (Florida) Speedway and the Battle at the Beach in Daytona. He would go on to win five Mexico Series races on the year and seemed poised to claim his first championship before a broken rear axle in the penultimate race of the season knocked him back in the standings, ruining his goal of winning the title before heading to the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015 as a full-time driver with Joe Gibbs Racing.

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Monterrey’s Abraham Calderón lifted the NASCAR Mexico Series championship trophy at Puebla. Courtesy NASCAR Mexico Series 

Comeback Driver Of The Year

Rubén Pardo – After being locked out of Victory Lane throughout the entire 2013 season, Pardo returned to his winning ways this season, scoring  two wins on the year to compliment his six top fives and 10 top 10s. The Mexico City driver won the Queretana 200 on May 25th to earn his first victory since Oct. 28, 2012. His next win came during the first race of the Desafío, the Chihuahua 240 on Sept. 7, where he survived four late-race restarts, including a green-white-checkered finish.

Rubén Rovelo (honorable mention) – Rovelo finished the season third in the championship standings after putting together a solid numbers in 2014. The 26-year-old earned his seventh and eighth career series wins, his first trips to Victory Lane since Aug. 2012, to go along with his six top fives and nine top 10s. His 14 races left him one shy of a full season but earned him honorable mention on this year-end list.

Breakout Performance

Rubén García Jr. – It’s difficult to award a former Rookie of the Year (2012) and championship contender (fourth in the final standings in 2013) as the top breakout performer on the season, but for the second consecutive year, García Jr. found himself within striking distance of the series championship heading into the final event of the season. Racing with a new team, the 18-year-old was the runner-up in the championship standings after an accident in the season finale ruined his chance at overtaking Calderón for the series crown. García Jr. was named to the 2014-15 NASCAR Next class and also made his Nationwide Series debut a day after finishing seventh in the Mexico Series season-opener in Phoenix.

Santiago Tovar (honorable mention) – The 2013 Rookie of the Year followed up his award-winning first year with a strong sophomore season. He earned his first two career pole awards and finished 2014 with two top fives, the firsts of his career, and four top 10s.

Top Team

Telcel – The prestigious racing team led the series with five team wins (Suárez) en route to its first championship since the 2011 season. Calderón  and Suárez  combined for five wins, 12 top fives and 20 top 10s, including three pole awards. Calderón’s title now gives them five, the most by any team in series history.

AXTEL M Racing (honorable mention) – This first year team hit the ground running, falling one win shy of tying for the most victories on the year. AXTEL M Racing began 2014 as a two-car team with Homero Richards and Enrique Contreras III behind the wheel of their Toyota Camrys. Midway through the season, they added Irwin Vences as a third driver. The moved proved to be a good one for the Mexico City based team as Vences and Richards both qualified for the Desafío, with each driver finishing the season with two victories apiece, including a win by Richards in the season finale at Puebla.

Top Races

Phoenix International Raceway – The season-opening Toyota 120 event at Phoenix, the second year that the series opened its calendar in the United States, had something for everyone. Suárez began the race from the outside pole position, quickly getting around pole sitter Pardo for the lead. After a speeding penalty on pit road on Lap 46 dropped him to the rear of the field, the NASCAR Next and Drive for Diversity program alum methodically marched through the field until reaching the top three before Lap 90. Over the final 10 laps, Suárez waged a nip-and-tuck battle with race-leader Antonío Peréz, with Peréz holding the edge until the final lap. Shortly after the white flag flew, Suárez shortcut the backstretch dogleg to gain the advantage and score his first of five Mexico Series wins of the season.

El Dorado Speedway – Exciting lead changes, late race restarts and a green-white-checkered finish are all ingredients for heart-pounding racing. The Chihuahua 240 had all of those in abundance, including the added drama of being the first race of the Desafío round, culminating in a the second victory of the season for Pardo and a drama-filled race for the spectators in attendance. The race was dominated early by pole winner Vences who was looking to win back-to-back races from the pole position. On Lap 18, Vences began to lose speed, allowing Suárez to take the lead as Vences was forced down pit road.  Several drivers would battle for the top spot, including García Jr. who led the second-most laps at 55 behind Suárez’s race-leading 79. Pardo passed García Jr. for the lead on Lap 203 of 245, but the two drivers would exchange the top spot several times over the next few laps, with Pardo eventually holding off the young driver and the rest of the field for the remainder of the race, including four late-race restarts.

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The season-opening race at Phoenix International Raceway was once again one of the highlights of the NASCAR Mexico Series calendar. Getty Images for NASCAR

Best Of 2014: Whelen Euro Series

Best Of 2014: Whelen Euro Series

Kumpen Wins In Record Setting Season

In 2014 the NASCAR Whelen euro series sat a number of records, showing in it’s third year under the NASCAR banner an ever increasing level of competition and parity on track. Both the divisions were decided in the last race of the Le Mans Finals, with Anthony Kumpen edging two-time champion Ander Vilarino by just one point to claim the title -and the ring – of European NASCAR Champion. 

A spectacular seven different drivers won at least one race and led at least one lap in the ELITE 1 Division, while eight won in the ELITE 2 Division and a grand total of completed one lap ahead of the field.

The number of NASCAR dedicated events increased to four thanks to the addition of the season opener in Valencia, Spain and the Semi Finals in Magione, Italy. All four the American-themed weekends had an incredible success, drawing thousands of fans to the track to enjoy great racing and family entertainment. The excitement was so high that for 2015 all six events in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series calendar will revolve entirely around NASCAR.

Top Driver

Anthony Kumpen – After building himself an impressive resume in GT racing all over the world, the 36-year-old Belgian realized one of his dreams by winning his first NASCAR championship in his rookie season. And he did it in tremendous fashion, by showing an unmatchable consistency all season long and delivering under pressure at Le Mans, where he also won his first career NASCAR race.

Ander Vilarino (honorable mention) – The Spaniard kept up with his reputation in 2014 and won a series-high 4 races, but came just one point short in his quest for the third title in a row. The result is mostly due to a couple of on-track episodes that prevented him from scoring important points, but he led the series not only in wins, but also in laps led and fastest laps, demonstrating once again his strength. 

Comeback Driver Of The Year

Frederic Gabillon – Frederic Gabillon earns this recognition for the second consecutive time thanks to another spectacular comeback after a disappointing weekend in Valencia that left him far down in the standings. The Frenchman, who finished second behind Vilarino in 2013, climbed back steadily and put himself back in contention for the Le Mans Finals, but a problem with his car killed his hopes while he was leading in the first race on the French weekend.

Philipp Lietz (honorable mention) – With no experience at the wheel of a stock-car and a background mostly consisting in rallies, the Austrian driver initially approached the European NASCAR Series using consistency as his strongest weapon, but as the race passed he also picked up his pace and became a contender. After winning his first race in dramatic fashion at Magione in the Semi Finals, Lietz almost turned the tables at Le Mans, falling just 7 points short of ELITE 2 Division title with his #86 TB Renauer Motorsport Ford Mustang.

Top Team

PK Carsport – By winning the ELITE 1 Division championship with Anthony Kumpen and the ELITE 2 Divison title with Maxime Dumarey, the Belgian team completed the en-plein conquering also the Teams Championship in a perfect debut season for the #24 Chevrolet SS. Bert Longin in the #11 also finished sixth in the standings.

CAAL Racing (honorable mention) – The Italian team fielded three cars for the entire season and collected an impressive amount of trophies along the way, thanks to the efforts of Eddie Cheever, Fabrizio Armetta -winner of the Challenger Trophy – Nicolò Rocca, Gianmarco Ercoli and Simone Laureti.

Top Performances

Eddie Cheever – In his first season racing with closed wheels, the son of former Indianapolis 500 winner left a deep mark and showed an enormous potential. The Italian consistently fought for the win and brought home three races on his way to the third place in the standings and the first in the Junior “Jerome Sarran” Trophy. He also won the Race And Win Pole Award for scoring the highest number of poles during the season.

Thomas Ferrando (honorable mention)– At just 17 years of age, the NWES Drivers Program member made an impressive debut in the European NASCAR series. Fast and consistent all year long, Ferrando’s progresses culminated in a fantastic weekend at the Nurburgring, in which he won both the ELITE 2 races in exciting fashion, becoming the youngest race winner in the Series’ history. He also concluded the season third in points.

Top Races

Tours Speedway ELITE 1 Sunday Race – The first ever NASCAR Whelen Euro Series race held on an oval under the rain couldn’t be more spectacular. The track added a second banking in turns 1 and 2 this year and Mathias Lauda took advantage of the outside line to climb from fourth to first in the last ten laps of the race, for the delight of the French crowd.

Valencia ELITE 1 Saturday Race – The first race of the 2014 season was dominated by the PK Carsport duo of Bert Longin, who started from the pole, and Anthony Kumpen, but while the two Belgian drivers were battling for the lead in the final minutes of the race, it was Yann Zimmer to complete an astonishing move on both of them in turn two to steal an incredible win.

Best of 214: Whelen All-American Series

Best of 214: Whelen All-American Series

Anders Outruns Tough Competition To Achieve Dream Season

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Anthony Anders completed his dream season in 2014, adding to his legacy at South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway, taking home yet another South Carolina championship and finally capturing his first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I national championship.

The 43-year-old from Easley, South Carolina, took aim at national crown in the offseason, moving to the potent Hawk McCall Motorsports late model team from Travelers Rest, South Carolina. With the addition of Anderson Motor Speedway as a NASCAR-sanctioned track in 2014, Anders had three tracks in-state in which to chase wins and points.

“We’re focused on national points. The bottom line is we have to win races,” said Anders in May. “We want to have staying power.”

Mission accomplished.

They burst out of the gate with eight wins before the calendar turned to May and led the championship standings the entire season.

Two-time national champion Lee Pulliam of North Carolina made a midseason push for a third straight title but came up short. Likewise, former national Keith Rocco of Connecticut put together another banner season. But it too was not enough to erase Anders’ advantage.

Anders finished with 30 wins, 44 top fives and 48 top 10s in 51 races at Greenville, South Carolina’s Anderson and Myrtle Beach Speedway, as well as North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway.

Top Drivers

Anthony Anders: Anders’ 30 victories was the ninth highest single-season total in series history and most wins since Larry Phillips tallied 32 in 1995. In addition to his national crown, Anders took home top honors in South Carolina for the fourth straight season, breaking a tie he held with Ralph Earnhardt and Marty Ward. Earnhardt won three straight state Sportsman championships from 1965-67 and Ward won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series state honors from 2008-10. Anders won his second Late Model Stock Car crown at Greenville Pickens. He excelled away from his home track, too. Anders recorded a second-place finish in the middle of the summer at Hickory and closed the season by coming from 17th to win at Myrtle Beach.

Lee Pulliam (Honorable Mention): The 26-year-old Late Model driver from Semora, North Carolina, did everything but win the national championship. Pulliam finished the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season with 25 wins, 41 top fives and 42 top 10s in 46 starts. He collected his third track title at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia, and  won the state honors in both North Carolina and Virginia. Pulliam capped his season with a win in the prestigious Late Model race at Martinsville Speedway for the second time.

Comeback Driver of the Year

Jeff Strunk: The Boyertown, Pennsylvania, driver won his first 358 Modified Division championship at Pennsylvania’s Grandview Speedway since 2011. It gave Strunk his 10th track title at Grandview since 2000 and 14th NASCAR Whelen All-American Series crown – second most in series history. Strunk had two wins and 18 top 10s in 20 races at the high-banked dirt track known for large car counts and a handicap system that makes the top drivers come from the back of the field every weekend.

Top Breakthrough Performances

Dillon Bassett: The 17-year-old driver from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, put together an ambitious schedule in 2014. He raced his Late Model at seven tracks throughout the southeast. The travel did little to slow him down. Bassett rolled up 13 wins and finished fourth in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I national standings. Bassett also earned the inaugural UNOH Youth Achievement Award national title Friday. The award recognizes the top drivers 17-and-under in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series across all divisions.

Nick Heywood (Honorable Mention):  A first-year NASCAR participant, the 26-year-old from Plattsburgh, New York, won the asphalt modified division championship at his hometown track of Airborne Park Speedway en route to earning the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national Rookie of the Year Award presented by Jostens. Heywood, who also competes in the asphalt modified division at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, Vermont, won the national rookie award by 12 points over 18-year-old Kyle Ploff of Marietta, Georgia. Plott competes in Late Models at Greenville, Anderson and Hickory. The rookie of the year is for first-year Division I license holders.

Top Race

Motor Mile Speedway, June 28: It took three days and more scrutinizing of grainy footage than the Zapruder film before track officials were able to declare Tommy Lemons Jr. the winner of the track’s New River Bank Twin 75’s nightcap. The photo finish between Lemons and Peyton Sellers resulted in Motor Mile’s first electronically recorded tie. The track originally credited Sellers with the win pending review, and after an exhaustive examination of all the available data, Lemons was named the winner. The real winner may have been the fans, who witnessed a door-to-door battle between the top two over the final three laps before the to-close-to-call finish.

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Tommy Lemons Jr. (top) was declared the winner over Peyton Sellers of Friday’s Late Model feature at Motor Mile Speedway in a photo finish. Courtesy of Motor Mile Speedway

Other Notable Achievements

• Keith Rocco of Wallingford, Conn., the series’ 2010 national champion, continued his unprecedented run of success. Rocco won his fourth SK Modified championship at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl for his 10th NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track title between Waterford, Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park since 2007. Rocco finished in the top three in the national standings for the sixth straight season and has finished in the top four in all eight years under the current format. He also won a record seventh state title.

• Ted Christopher of Plainville, Conn., the 2001 national champion, added to his own record with a ninth SK Modified championship at Stafford Motor Speedway. It was also Christopher’s 13th NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship overall. Only three drivers have more in Whelen All-American Series history.

• Steve Carlson, of West Salem, Wisconsin, added to his impressive resume with a third Wisconsin title and second in a row. Carlson won his fifth Late Model Division championship at Wisconsin’s LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway with five wins and top fives in all 14 of 16 outings. The 2007 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion is one of the most decorated short-track racers in NASCAR. In addition to his weekly series honors, is also a five-time champion of NASCAR’s former Midwest Series for Late Models.

• Stewart Friesen of Sparkers, New York, had a dominating season at New York’s Utica-Rome Speedway in the track’s return to NASCAR. The dirt-track wheelman had six wins and 17 top fives in 18 starts to earn the championship at Utica-Rome Speedway. Friesen also won the opening Saturday night show at Grandview and added a non-points win in Grandview’s 44th annual Freedom 76 Modified.

Four More National Champions
• For the first time, NASCAR recognized champions from each of its divisions of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In addition to Anders, Jared Umbanhauer (Div. II), Jon Plowman (Div. III), AJ Sanders (Div. IV) and Donavan Beacham (Div. V) were honored as NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champions.

The 23-year-old Umbenhauer ran away with the Division II title on the strength of 11 wins and 15 top fives in the Sportsman Division standings at Grandview.

Plowman, 21, who races in the B Modified divisions at I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Nebraska, and Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa, pulled away to win the Division II national championship with 14 wins, 18 top fives and 19 top 10s in 21 starts at the two tracks and won the B Modified championship at Adams County.

The 46-year-old Sanders won 15 races in 26 starts this year in the Mini Stock/Stadium Stock divisions at North Carolina’s Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, Caraway Speedway in Sophia and Southern National Raceway Park in Lucama to win a tightly contested national race, where the top six drivers were separated by just 34 points.

And Beacham edged his friend Brian King as they went back-and-forth at South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway and Anderson Motor Speedway. Beacham won the championship in the Four Cylinder division at Greenville, while King won the Front-Wheel Drive division at Anderson.

In previous year, NASCAR’s Finalist Program spotlighted the achievements of drivers outside of the Division I.

Notable Among State And Province Champions

Nineteen out of 31 are first-time champs;

With an impressive nine wins in 10 events, Erica Thiering won the championship at the quarter-mile Edmonton International Raceway in Wetaskiwin, Alberta, for the sixth time in the last seven years, and claimed her sixth Alberta crown and fourth in a row; David Rogers, the 1994 national champion, won his second straight Florida title; Alex Papini missed out on the track title at Rockford, but won his second consecutive state title with nine wins and 14 top fives in 16 starts; Jacob Goebe improved from 16th to first to become the first driver other than Adam Royle or Donny Reuvers to win the Minnesota title, after recording seven wins and 16 top 10s in 18 outings en route to the Elko Speedway championship; Duane Howard also missed out on his eighth Grandview title but claimed his fourth Pennsylvania championship with five wins and 14 top fives in 20 starts; Scott Gafforini  won his third Nevada championship with six wins and 12 top fives in 13 starts at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Mike Kourkoubes, the 2013 Texas rookie of the year, won the state title with two wins and 11 top fives in 13 starts at Houston Motorsports Park; California’s Ryan Partridge drove to seven wins and 17 top fives in 18 starts at Irwindale Speedway and Kern County Raceway Park, picking up his second straight track title at Irwindale and first California crown; 21-year-old Kody Brusso, from Pensacola Florida, had three wins and top 10s in all 12 races to secure top honors in Louisiana and her first title at Revolution Park Racing Complex in Monroe.

Notable Among Track Champions

Of the 58 NASCAR-sanctioned tracks in 2014, there were 15 repeat champions from 2013 and 29 first-time NASCAR champions.

Jay Linstroth won the track title at All American Speedway in Roseville, California for the second year in a row; South Carolina’s Anderson Motor Speedway returned to the NASCAR family in 2014 and David Roberts hooked the hardware with a win and top 10s in all 15 outings for his first NASCAR late model stock title at Anderson; another short track that returned to the NASCAR fold this season was Quebec’s Autodrome St-Eustache, where Jean-Francois Bouvrette scored a win and nine top 10s in 10 features to take home his first NASCAR championship; Ontario, Canada’s Barrie Speedway championship was won by Gord Sheherd for the second year in a row and third overall with seven victories and top-10 finishes in all 28 of his starts; Dave Farrington Jr. registered 14 top 10s in 15 outings to capture his first title at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine; The famed modified track championship at Winston-Salem, North Carolina’s historic Bowman Gray went New Jersey’s third-generation driver Danny Bohn on the strength of a pair of wins and 16 top 10s in 21 outings.

New Richmond, Wisconsin features racing at Cedar Lake Speedway, where Chad Mahder took home his second title – and first since 2010 – with a win and seven top 10s in eight events; Chemung Speedrome in New York features modifieds, and Jimmy Zacharias drove to the track title with six wins and top 10s in all 15 starts for his fourth championship in five years; Dominic Ursetta won nine times in 15 races with 13 top 10s to capture the Colorado National Speedway crown out in Dacono over eight-time titlist Bruce Yackey; Another stellar season for this driver saw Chad Pendleton win seven of 19 races to remain the Late Model champion at Columbus Motor Speedway in Ohio for the third straight year; Todd Stone was the asphalt modified track champion for the second year in a row at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, Vermont, thanks to four wins and 17 top 10s in 18; The very first East Carolina Motor Speedway NASCAR track title was earned by Jeff Shifflett with 11 top fives in 12 races on the asphalt tri-oval in Robersonville, North Carolina.

Mike Holden rolled to fieve wins and top 10s in 10 of 11 outings to earn his first track title at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington; Racing late models at another historic southern short track, Josh Berry took home his first crown at Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina with eight wins and top 10s in all but one of his 19 races; A win and top 10s in all 10 starts took home the title for Amy Catalano at New York’s Holland Motorsports Complex for a second time; Cory Dumpert dominated at Junction Motor Speedway with 11 wins in 13 late model features at the McCool Junction, Nebraska dirt oval; Mike Brooks  earned his first super late model title at Michigan’s Kalamazoo Speedway with five wins and 13 top fives in 15 outings; In the second year of competition at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California, Brian Richardson earned the title with 10 wins and top-five finishes in all 22 starts; Cody Robinson had five wins and top 10s in all 15 starts this year, he captured the Kil-Kare Raceway championship in Xenia, Ohio, in just his second year of late model competition; Kres Van Dyke totaled six wins and top 10s in all 19 starts to secure the championship at Tennessee’s Kingsport Speedway as he tamed the Concrete Jungle to earn his first NASCAR track title; Scott Skufca took the title at Lake County Speedway in Painesville, Ohio with four wins and top 10s in all 18 races; Randy Culver scored seven wins and 12 top fives in 13 starts to earn the Lake Erie Speedway title in North East, Pennsylvania; The championship at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia was secured with eight wins and top 10s in all 22 races by Greg Edwards, his fourth Langley title overall and second in three years.

Kaleb Allison emerged as the champion at historic Lebanon I-44 Speedway thanks to a pair of wins and top fives in all 15 of his starts at age 15 this year; Consistency was the key for Jake Stergois as a win and top fives in all 14 starts took home top honors at New Hampshire’s Lee USA Speedway; Todd Sherman secured the crown at Limaland Speedway in Lima, Ohio with four wins and top 10s in all 11 outings, as Sherman has won the Limaland title in each of its four seasons in the Whelen All-American Series program; Coeburn, Virginia’s Lonesome Pine Raceway returned to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program in 2014 and Chad Finchum posted 10 wins with 17 top fives in 18 outings; Kristopher McKean won the Magic Valley Speedway title in Twin Falls, Idaho, for the second time in three years with five wins and top fives in all 14 features; Todd Patnode registered eight wins and top 10s in each of his 16 starts took home his fifth track title at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire, two more than any other driver; Bobby Henry won his second title – and first since 2007 – at Motordrome Speedway in Smithton, Pennsylvania by way of three wins and 17 top fives in 18 starts; Sam Yarbrough won his second straight track title and third overall with six wins and top 10s in all 14 races at Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina; With four wins and top 10s in all 25 races, Howie Brode bested the field to secure a third track title at New York’s Riverhead Raceway (his first came back in 1998).

Racing at one of NASCAR’s toughest weekly tracks, Jon Reynolds Jr. registered three wins and top 10s in all but one of the 17 events to capture the title at Illinois’ Rockford Speedway; With nine wins and top 10s in all 21 features Jeran Frailey took home his first track title at Salina Highbanks Speedway in Oklahoma; Four wins and top 10s in 20 of 22 late model features took home the championship at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, North Carolina for Lemons; The Spencer Speedway track title up in Williamson, New York was earned by Rusty Smith for the third consecutive year with four wins and top fives in all 14 races; Justin Philpott had five wins and top 10s in all eight races to earn his second career title at California’s Stockton 99 Speedway; Ryan Preece captured his second title in three years at Thompson with four wins and top 10s in all 10 feature events; Historic Tucson Speedway returned home to the NASCAR family in 2014 and Ron Norman posted a pair of wins to earn his fourth NASCAR championship.

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The 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I track champions were honored at the annual awards in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday, Dec. 12. Getty Images for NASCAR

Garbo To Chase K&N East Championship

Garbo To Chase K&N East Championship

Connecticut Driver Signs With Marsh Racing, Whelen

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Connecticut-based Marsh Racing announced its return to NASCAR’s top developmental series, the K&N Pro Series, with David Garbo Jr., driving the No. 31 car sponsored by long-time partner Whelen Engineering Company, Inc.

The 18-year-old from Stonington, Connecticut, ran a limited NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule in 2014 highlighted by a top-10 finish at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Garbo is scheduled to compete full-time in 2015 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. The season kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 15, at central Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway during the track’s annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.

“He’s a remarkable young man,” said Marsh Racing car owner Ted Marsh. “We don’t know how he does it all so effectively at just 18 years old. He’s a national racing champion, a college freshman, a licensed private plane pilot, and he has an established charitable organization. We feel not only is he a talented and committed racer, but also someone who represents the future of the sport.  We’re quite impressed!”

“With the talented David Garbo Jr. as our pilot we are looking forward to a lot of excitement and great racing in a very competitive field,” said Phil Kurze, vice president of motorsports at Whelen.

Whelen and Marsh Racing have been involved with racing together since 1995 and raced in the K&N Pro Series East with numerous drivers as well as appearances in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

Garbo’s racing resume also includes championships in Legends cars in 2011 and a top-25 national finish in 2013 in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. He scored top-10 finishes in the prestigious Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown in 2013.

Outside the cockpit Garbo has a great passion to help students with learning difficulties.  He established a charitable organization, The David Garbo Jr. Fund, to aide other student athletes with learning differences. This passion was fueled in part due to his own learning disabilities, which he overcame to become an honors student at the Forman School in Connecticut while racing full-time. That achievement helped him gain accepted to High Point University for 2015.

Whelen Engineering Company, Inc., is the “Official Warning Lights of NASCAR” and “The Official Automotive Illumination Lights of NASCAR” which is primarily off-road vehicle illumination lights.  Whelen has been involved with NASCAR since 1995 and has been a sponsor on a racecar in every NASCAR racing series.  They presently are the entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR Whelen All American Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.

Garbo To Chase K&N East Championship

Garbo To Chase K&N East Championship

Connecticut Driver Signs With Marsh Racing, Whelen

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Connecticut-based Marsh Racing announced its return to NASCAR’s top developmental series, the K&N Pro Series, with David Garbo Jr., driving the No. 31 car sponsored by long-time partner Whelen Engineering Company, Inc.

The 18-year-old from Stonington, Connecticut, ran a limited NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule in 2014 highlighted by a top-10 finish at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Garbo is scheduled to compete full-time in 2015 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. The season kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 15, at central Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway during the track’s annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.

“He’s a remarkable young man,” said Marsh Racing car owner Ted Marsh. “We don’t know how he does it all so effectively at just 18 years old. He’s a national racing champion, a college freshman, a licensed private plane pilot, and he has an established charitable organization. We feel not only is he a talented and committed racer, but also someone who represents the future of the sport.  We’re quite impressed!”

“With the talented David Garbo Jr. as our pilot we are looking forward to a lot of excitement and great racing in a very competitive field,” said Phil Kurze, vice president of motorsports at Whelen.

Whelen and Marsh Racing have been involved with racing together since 1995 and raced in the K&N Pro Series East with numerous drivers as well as appearances in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

Garbo’s racing resume also includes championships in Legends cars in 2011 and a top-25 national finish in 2013 in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. He scored top-10 finishes in the prestigious Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown in 2013.

Outside the cockpit Garbo has a great passion to help students with learning difficulties.  He established a charitable organization, The David Garbo Jr. Fund, to aide other student athletes with learning differences. This passion was fueled in part due to his own learning disabilities, which he overcame to become an honors student at the Forman School in Connecticut while racing full-time. That achievement helped him gain accepted to High Point University for 2015.

Whelen Engineering Company, Inc., is the “Official Warning Lights of NASCAR” and “The Official Automotive Illumination Lights of NASCAR” which is primarily off-road vehicle illumination lights.  Whelen has been involved with NASCAR since 1995 and has been a sponsor on a racecar in every NASCAR racing series.  They presently are the entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR Whelen All American Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.

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