At The Last Minute – Again – Kahne Advances In Chase

Kasey Kahne became eligible for the Chase only two races before it began. He's now on the bubble to move into the next round.

Kasey Kahne became eligible for the Chase only two races before it began. He’s now on the bubble to move into the next round.

This season Kasey Kahne has gotten the job done. But the thing is, it’s always been at the last minute.

Kahne and his Hendrick Motorsports team have spent anxious weeks wondering if they were going to accomplish what they should in order to advance – and have any shot at a championship.

For most of the season it appeared Kahne would be the only Hendrick driver to fail to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

After the 24th race of the season, at Bristol, Kahne stood 13th in points. That was good enough to make the field of 16 for the Chase but there was a problem.

Kahne was one of eight drivers who had not won a race. Five of them ranked higher in points, which meant the only sure way Kahne was going to make the “playoffs” was to win – and he had only two races in which to do so before the Chase began.

He won at the next race at Atlanta on Labor Day weekend, the 25th event of the season. With the win Kahne advanced to 11th in points and was certain to qualify for the Chase.

After Richmond, where he finished 17th, Kahne remained 11th in points after re-seeding.

It wasn’t a very safe position. After three races in the Chase, the Contender Round would begin at Kansas – and only 12 drivers would compete. Four would be eliminated.

Kahne finished 13th at Chicagoland and 23rd at Loudon. He came to Dover, the final race in the Challenger Round, 11th in points – two positions from elimination.

Kahne raced his way into the Chase with a victory in Atlanta in August, his only win of the season.

Kahne raced his way into the Chase with a victory in Atlanta in August, his only win of the season.

He managed to pull it off and, again, at the last minute.

That Kahne would advance after Dover was doubtful. He had his own set of problems and it appeared he was often swapping the last qualifying position with Kurt Busch, the Stewart Haas Racing driver who was 14th in points when the race began.

Busch finished 18th, two spots better than Kahne. But it wasn’t enough.

Kahne held on to 12th in points, two positions and six points ahead of Busch.

“You can’t expect to advance running 18th,” Busch said. “You’ve got to have better lap times every time you go and hit the track. If you’re off, it’s hard to put the car up on your back and run it.

“I just chalk it up to me not getting the job done. It’s all my fault that we didn’t advance.”

The race wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for Kahne. He had his anxious moments.

“Early we drove to fifth and then we fell back a few spots on pit road, then drove back to sixth,” he said. “We fell back a few more spots and then we had a loose wheel.  

“From that point on I was just hoping the cautions didn’t come out or that they came out at the right time. Really, they just didn’t come out and we just had to race, race, race.”

Racing, Kahne added, was the only way he made it. If he had to rely on caution periods and top-flight pit stops, he wasn’t sure the day would’ve ended as he would’ve liked.

“I am glad NASCAR let us race for it today because that is the only way I could have gotten in,” Kahne said. “I guess if a couple cautions came out or something, we could have gotten the lucky dog but we had a better car than some of the other guys and we were able to race our way in. 

“Kenny (Francis, crew chief) did a great job and our team did a great job in preparation in giving us a top five or top three car.”

Kahne said he was comfortable in his Chevrolet and did not feel anxious – until almost the very end, that is. 

“I never really got nervous at all and I just raced real hard the whole time,” he said. “Kenny started telling me we were tied for 12th and this was with 30 to go. 

“Then he would tell me we were one point in and then maybe two points in, and then he wasn’t positive. 

“Then I started getting a little bit worried, so it was intense inside the car.”

For Kahne, the worrying isn’t over. At 12th, he’s in last place in points going into the Contender Round, which lasts three races – Kansas through the always-treacherous Talladega.

Afterward four drivers will be eliminated and only eight will move on to the Eliminator Round.

To make it Kahne has to rank eighth in points, or higher, or win a race.

The feeling here is that he doesn’t want to wait until the last moment to do either one.

 

 

 

Preece Gets Back To Victory Lane At Stafford

Preece Gets Back To Victory Lane At Stafford

Defending Whelen Modified Champ Gets First Win Of Season

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STAFFORD, Conn. — Ryan Preece broke through Sunday after a season-long absence from Victory Lane, and collected his 10th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory by holding off Ted Christopher at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Preece, the defending tour champion, had to weather a final challenge by Christopher after a late caution set up a final restart with two laps remaining. Christopher had an early advantage but Preece was able to power back by for the victory. Preece led a race-high 79 laps in recording his first win since Sept. 14 last year at New York’s Riverhead Raceway.

Christopher settled for second. Earlier in the day, Christopher collected his 13th NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track championship overall and ninth in Stafford’s SK Modified Division in a race also won by Preece.

Ron Silk rallied back to finish third, followed by rookie Tommy Barrett Jr. and Patrick Emerling.

Woody Pitkat was sixth and Eric Goodale seventh.

Championship points leader Doug Coby finished eighth and took advantage of second straight rough outing by Justin Bonsignore (21st) to extend his points lead. Coby leads Christopher, who moved into second, by 28 points and Bonsignore by 39 heading into the season finale.

Donny Lia and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top 10. Bobby Santos, who won the Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying Saturday, finished 12th.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will conclude the season on Sunday, Oct. 19, with the Sunoco World Series 150 presented by Xtra Mart at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

RESULTS | RACE CENTRAL LIVE REPLAY | AUDIO: WINNER RYAN PREECE | AUDIO: SECOND-PLACE TED CHRISTOPHER | AUDIO: THIRD-PLACE RON SILK

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Ryan Preece (16) leads Ted Christopher en route to his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win Sunday at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. Darren McCollester/Getty Images for NASCAR

Brunnhoelzl Returns To Victory Lane

Brunnhoelzl Returns To Victory Lane

Holds Off Myers For Whelen Southern Modified Win At Caraway

SOPHIA, N.C. — George Brunnhoelzl held off Burt Myers Saturday night in a green-white-checkered finish and in the process kept alive his hopes for a fifth NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship with his win in the Zooland 150. 

JR Bertuccio finished third, followed by Danny Bohn and championship points leader Andy Seuss.

Brunnhoelzl cut Seuss’ championship points lead from 18 to nine with two races remaining. Myers, who entered the night winning three of the last four races, remains in third place 22 points out of the lead.

Jason Myers, Luke Fleming, Brian Loftin, and rookies Bobby Measmer Jr. and Joe Ryan Osborne completed the top 10. Loftin won the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day.

The victory is the 22 of Brunnhoelzl’s career and second of the season. Brunnhoelzl also became the all-time wins leader at Caraway Speedway with 11 wins.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour returns to Caraway on Saturday, Oct. 4, for the Prestoria Farms 150. The penultimate race of the 2014 season was rescheduled from March 29 after a rain-out.

RESULTS | RACE CENTRAL LIVE REPLAY | AUDIO: RACE WINNER GEORGE BRUNNHOELZL III POST-RACE | AUDIO: SECOND-PLACE BURT MYERS POST-RACE | AUDIO: THIRD-PLACE JR BERTUCCIO POST-RACE

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George Brunnhoelzl III (28) leads Burt Myers in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C., Saturday. Speed51.com

QUALIFYING: Loftin Back In Form

QUALIFYING: Loftin Back In Form

Veteran Scores Seventh Career Pole Award At Caraway

SOPHIA, N.C. – While Andy Seuss and George Brunnhoelzl III have gained most of the headlines from racing recently at Caraway Speedway, for a while Brian Loftin was the driver to beat at Caraway Speedway. After qualifying, Loftin might be ready to reclaim his success at the .455-mile track.

Loftin captured his first Coors Light Pole Award on the tour since July 1, 2011 during qualifying for the Zooland 150. Loftin led the field with a fast lap of 15.936 seconds (102.786 mph) to capture his 13th career pole and seventh at Caraway.

Brunnhoelzl followed closely in second with a fast lap time of 15.967 seconds (102.587) with defending race Caraway race winner Burt Myers third (16.004/102.349).

Danny Bohn (16.021/102.241) and Andy Seuss (16.050/102.056) completed the top five.

Kyle Ebersole, JR Bertuccio, Daniel Speeney, Spencer Davis, Bobby Measmer Jr. completed the top 10.

Brandon Ward was forced to withdraw due to mechanical issues in practice and was not able to qualify.

The Zooland 150 is slated to begin at approximately 8 p.m.

QUALIFYING RESULTS 

QUALIFYING: Santos Captures Fall Final Pole

QUALIFYING: Santos Captures Fall Final Pole

Third Whelen Modified Pole In A Row At Connecticut Oval

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STAFFORD, Conn. – Bobby Santos is such a dominant qualifier at Stafford Motor Speedway that the procedure has nearly become a formality.

Santos, from Franklin, Massachusetts, posted a fast lap of 18.506 seconds (97.266 mph) Saturday to capture the Coors Light Pole Award for the sixth time in the last eight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events at the historic Connecticut half-mile oval.

The NAPA Fall Final 150 qualifying effort secured Santos his 16th career Coors Light Pole Award in tour competition overall, and was his ninth at Stafford, including the last three races in a row there.

Santos, a two-time winner of the Fall Final, will be joined on the front row Sunday by rookie Tommy Barrett Jr., who laid down a fast lap of 18.529 (97.145). Season points leader Doug Coby qualified third at 18.548 (97.046).

Defending NAPA Fall Final 150 winner Donny Lia qualified fourth and Eric Goodale was fifth. Woody Pitkat, Ryan Preece, Glen Reen, Ron Silk and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top 10 qualifiers.

Coby, who enters the season’s penultimate event with a 26-point lead on Bonsignore, has an outside shot on Sunday at clinching what would be his second Whelen Modified Tour title. He would have to win the NAPA Fall Final 150 and see subpar finishes from the remaining contenders for an early championship clinch to happen.

Racing action begins on Sunday at Stafford with NASCAR Whelen All-American Series features at 1 p.m. The Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Fall Final 150 will go green at approximately 3:15 p.m.

QUALIFYING RESULTS

Hill Still The King Of The Monster Mile

Hill Still The King Of The Monster Mile

Closes K&N Pro East With 2 Straight Wins; Rhodes Takes Title

DOVER, Del. — Austin Hill mastered the Monster Mile. Again.

The 20-year-old from Winston, Georgia, returned to the track where he recorded his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win a year ago and put on a dominating display Friday in the Driver Sober 150. Not even a tire issue could keep Hill from becoming the first driver since 1997 to close out the series season with back-to-back wins.

Like South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway earlier this month, Hill again shared Victory Lane celebration with fellow NASCAR Next driver Ben Rhodes.

The 17-year-old Rhodes, from Louisville, Kentucky, clinched the series title with a race remaining back on Sept. 6 in a race Hill won. Rhodes finished 15th at Dover and officially received the championship trophy from NASCAR President Mike Helton at the Monster Mile. Rhodes had also previously secured the K&N Pro East Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.

Hill’s No. 22 A&D Welding/Don Rich Ford outdistanced Kaz Grala by 5.136 seconds to take the checkered flag. Hill joined Brett Moffitt as the only series drivers to win twice on the one-mile, high-banked concrete oval.

Hill’s day was nearly ended in a Lap 93 incident when he got together with Brennan Newberry in a battle for the lead. Newberry wound up spinning, while Hill was subsequently forced down pit lane with a flat tire. However, Hill was able to stay on the lead lap, came back out 13th, and marched his way back to the front.

He took the lead on Lap 120 and pulled away for the victory.

Grala, 15, scored his career best finish. Scott Heckert, Eddie MacDonald and Brodie Kostecki rounded out the top five.

Sergio Pena finished sixth, followed by J.J. Haley, Gray Gaulding, Ryan Gifford and Dylan Presnell.

Rhodes finished with a 60-point margin over Turner-Scott Motorsports teammate Cameron Hayley and 78 over Gaulding. Brandon Jones and Hill rounded out the top five. Rhodes gave Turner-Scott its second straight championship, following Dylan Kwasniewski last season.

The Drive Sober 150 will air on FOX Sports 1 on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 10 a.m.

Rhodes will be honored for his championship season along with NASCAR’s other touring series champions on Saturday, Dec. 12 at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards in the Grand Ballroom of the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

RESULTS | RACE CENTRAL LIVE REPLAY | AUDIO: RACE WINNER AUSTIN HILL | AUDIO: SECOND-PLACE KAZ GRALA AND THIRD-PLACE SCOTT HECKERT | AUDIO: CHAMPION BEN RHODES

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NASCAR President Mike Helton presented Ben Rhodes with the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship trophy Friday at Dover International Speedway. Getty Images for NASCAR

Umbanhauer, Plowman, Sanders & Beacham Earn National Titles

Umbanhauer, Plowman, Sanders & Beacham Earn National Titles

Whelen All-American Series Crowns Div. II-V Champions

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — For four drivers, Friday morning brought a unique phone call.

Jared Umbanhauer, Jon Plowman, AJ Sanders and Donavan Beacham got the news from NASCAR that they were 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champions champions.

“That’s crazy,” said the 26-year-old Beacham. “It’s kind of unbelievable. I never really ran for a championship. I wasn’t trying to run for points at the beginning of the season. We started getting a little better, started moving up (in the points) and it just kind of blew up from there.”

In 2014, for the first time, NASCAR recognized champions from each of its divisions of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Anthony Anders of Easley, South Carolina, officially won the Division I championship earlier this week. In previous year, NASCAR’s Finalist Program recognized the achievements of drivers outside of the Division I.

This year, they’ll be crowned champions. They’ll be honored at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards at the NASCAR Hall of Fame / Charlotte Convention Center on Friday, Dec. 12.

“NASCAR would like to congratulate Jared Umbanhauer, Jon Plowman, AJ Sanders and Donavan Beacham on their outstanding championship seasons,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president, regional and touring series. “We are proud to recognize the achievements of the drivers at every level of our NASCAR Whelen All-American Series – their hard work and dedication to racing and NASCAR is the foundation of our sport.”

In addition, 17-year-old Dillon Bassett 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. Bassett won 13 times in the Late Model Stock Division at seven tracks throughout the southeast and finished fourth in the Division I national standings.

“It’s truly an honor,” said Bassett. “It’s a big blessing to be part of it and to win it says a lot about our racing program. This year has been really good to us.”

UNOH YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: NATIONAL STANDINGS | TRACK STANDINGS

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards will take place on Friday, Dec. 12. Among those honored will be the 2014 national champion, as well as track champions from 58 tracks across the United States and Canada, state and province champions, and top rookies.

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division II-V drivers are ranked by their best 14 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of – up to 18 cars – and three points for a win, with an additional two points available if the driver starts 10th or lower.

DIVISION II | DIVISION III | DIVISION IV | DIVISION V 

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 Speedway in Bechtelsville, Penn.

“That’s awesome,” said the 23-year-old from Richland, Pennsylvania, after receiving the news. “The car was phenomenal this year. We had a couple bad nights, but other than that, everything went our way this season.”

Umbenhauer finished with 547 points to out-distance fellow dirt driver Jesse Dennis, who had 478 points racing at Nebraska’s I-80 Speedway and Iowa’s Adams County Speedway.

Plowman, who races in the B Modified divisions at I-80 and Adams County, pulled away to win the Division II national championship by 49 points over runner-up Josh Galvin of Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl.

The 21-year-old Plowman, from Woodbine, Iowa, had 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.

For Sanders, the championship is a high point in a long racing career.

The 46-year-old from Mocksville, North Carolina, has been involved in NASCAR racing for nearly three decades and has seen his share of ups and downs. He’s won track titles in and out of NASCAR. Two years ago, he was he was hit by a truck while pushing his race car into his shop’s driveway. Sanders said he was dragged more than 80 feet, and suffered a multitude of injuries.

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. He won a tightly contested national race, where the top six drivers were separated by just 34 points.

Sanders’ final margin of was eight points over Chris Kyer of Ohio’s Columbus Motor Speedway.

Likewise, Beacham was involved in a close battle. His, though, was with 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.

Beacham finished with seven wins, 23 top fives and 25 top 10s in 29 starts to edge King by eight points.

“I have been waiting on this all week,” said Beacham. “It was so close between me and Brian, we didn’t know which way it was going to go.”

Now it’s going to take him, as well as Umbanhauer, Plowman, and Sanders to the big stage in Charlotte in December.

Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 58 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.

Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.

QUALIFYING: Little On Roll At Dover

QUALIFYING: Little On Roll At Dover

NASCAR Next Driver Captures K&N Pro East Pole

DOVER, Del. – Jesse Little followed up his fast practice time earlier Friday with the the top lap in qualifying to earn the 21 Means 21 Pole Award at Dover International Speedway. It’s the second NASCAR K&N Pro Series East pole for the 17-year-old from Mooresville, North Carolina.

Little turned a past lap of 23.384 seconds (153.951 mph) in his No. 97 NASCAR Technical Institute Chevrolet, The NASCAR Next driver also won the pole at Iowa Speedway on Aug. 1.

Turner Scott Motorsports teammates Cameron Hayley (23.526/153.022) and Ben Rhodes (23.528/153.009) were second and third fastest. Kyle Benjamin and Kaz Grala rounding out the top five.

Brandon Jones was sixth fastest, followed by J.J. Haley, Scott Heckert, defending race winner Austin Hill, and Daniel Suarez.

Rhodes has already clinched the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship prior to the season finale.

The Driver Sober 150 green flag is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET.  The race will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1 on Oct. 4 at 10 a.m. 

QUALIFYING RESULTS

Scannell Is Canadian Tire Series’ Top Rookie

Scannell Is Canadian Tire Series’ Top Rookie

Third-Generation Driver Takes Home First-Year Honor

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Blood is thicker than frozen water for Matthew Scannell, who shelved his stick and skates in hockey-crazed Canada and followed in the family footsteps by grabbing a steering wheel and gear shifter.

Four years later, the 17-year-old Scannell became the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 Rookie of the Year.

Scannell, from Rockwood, Ontario, used to split his recreational time between hockey and racing, but when time commitments for the latter increased, the decision was easy.

“It’s always been pretty much racing,” Scannell said. “It’s something I thought I wanted to do in the future. I enjoyed hockey at the time because my friends all did it, but I started go-karts when I was seven and I always dreamed of going to the [United] States and trying to make a living at racing.”

Scannell is a third-generation driver. Howie Scannell Sr. was a Canadian stock car racer, as is the younger Scannell’s father, Howie Jr. A veteran of 26 Canadian Tire Series races, Scannell Jr. essentially vacated the driver’s seat for his son, for whom he now serves as the crew chief.

Scannell took home the Canadian Tire Series first-year driver award with 56 rookie points behind the wheel of the No. 56 OMVIC Dodge. He recorded three top-10s in eight starts, and a 12th-place ranking in the championship points standings.

“For what we had, I think we did fairly well,” Scannell said. “We had some good luck and some bad luck. I got a lot of seat time, good exposure, and I learned a lot. As far as the whole year goes, I think it was valuable towards my learning curve.”

Scannell showed progress as the season went along. His two best finishes were the last two races of the season, ninth at Barrie Speedway and eighth at Kawartha Speedway, which served as inspiration for the 2015 season.

“At the end [at Barrie] we were just as quick as the lead pack,” Scannell said. “It was a confidence boost to know that we could go out there and run competitive.”

The Scannells are currently seeking sponsorship, with the intent to compete full-time in 2015. He hopes to make a home in the Canadian Tire Series moving forward.

“It would be great to go run for championships in the Canadian Tire Series,” Scannell said. “The guys we’re going up against, they’ve been doing it for years, and it’s pretty tough to do. You’ve got to be on the ball every race, every week that you go to the track.”

Scannell has a success story to point to as a blueprint. This year’s series champion, L.P. Dumoulin, earned the rookie award in 2011.

The teen is appreciative of what it took to get him to this point, and of the opportunity he has been provided.

“I have to thank my dad for working on the cars all year, the crew for all of their support, car owner Jim Bray for providing me with the opportunity to race, and my mom and my family for supporting me throughout the season,” Scannell said.

Scannell’s accomplishment will be recognized at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards on Dec. 13 in the Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Scannell drove to his two best finishes in the last two races on the schedule. Matthew Murnaghan/Getty Images for NASCAR

Anders Completes Journey To National Title

Anders Completes Journey To National Title

South Carolina Driver Wins First Whelen All-American Crown

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Anthony Anders was sitting with friends in the grandstands off Turn 4 at historic Greenville Pickens Speedway when he got the itch to give this racing thing a try. Twenty years later, the Easley, South Carolina, driver has reached the pinnacle of short-track racing.

Anders is the 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship.

The 43-year-old Anders accomplished the feat by leading the national points standings every week of the season and finishing with 30 wins, ninth most in a single season in the history of the series.

“I remember being at the banquet and seeing all those banners (of past national champions),” Anders said. “I said, ‘I want to be there one day.’

“I’ve won a lot of races in my career. It’s just amazing to accomplish this.”

To win the national title, Anders had to fend off a pair of the best short-track racers in NASCAR.

Two-time national champion Lee Pulliam of North Carolina finished second, while Connecticut’s Keith Rocco finished third. It is the fourth straight year Pulliam has been among the top three, while Rocco stretched his run to eight seasons – every year under the current format – of being in the top four.

“NASCAR would like to congratulate Anthony Anders as our 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president, regional and touring series. “There have been a lot of great champions from Greenville Pickens Speedway over the years, and Anders continued that legacy with his tremendous season. We look forward to formally crowning him at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte in December.”

Anders finished with 720 points, to Pulliam’s 709 and Rocco’s 698.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards will take place on Friday, Dec. 12. Among those honored will be the 2014 national champion, as well as track champions from 58 tracks across the United States and Canada, state and province champions, and top rookies.

In addition to his national championship, Anders took home top honors in South Carolina for the fourth consecutive season and added his name again to the Wall of Champions as the Late Model Stock Car champion at Greenville. The outside retaining wall around the flat half-mile lists the names of all the track’s champions, including the likes of David Pearson and Ralph Earnhardt, as well as 1997 NASCAR national champion Dexter Canipe. The state championship traces its lineage back to 1953 and also includes Pearson, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Isaac.

Anders is the 25th driver in the 33 years of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series to win the national championship.

“Our goal was to win it in the beginning of the year,” said Anders. “It’s been an overwhelming blessing for us.”

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

NATIONAL STANDINGS | STATE & PROVINCIAL STANDINGS

Pulliam continued his incredible four-year run, adding 25 wins, 41 top fives and 42 top 10s in 46 starts to his resume. The 26-year-old from Semora, North Carolina, has 92 Late Model wins since 2011. He won his first North Carolina championship to go with the Virginia titles he has won in 2012-14.

Rocco also added to his own legacy.

The 29-year-old from Wallingford, Connecticut, won his seventh straight Connecticut championship. He has already clinched the SK Modified Division title at Waterford Speedbowl, and is third at Stafford Motor Speedway and second at Thompson Speedway heading into each track’s final weekends.

Rocco, who had 16 wins, 35 top fives and 40 top 10s in 46 starts, will be on the big stage in Charlotte for the awards as one of the top three drivers in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for the sixth straight year.

“Waterford, we absolutely dominate; Thompson, we were very, very strong; Stafford, we had a better year than we did last year but still not quite up to par,” said Rocco. “Stafford has the fiercest competition, I think, than anybody in the country. It’s tough to win up there. We definitely made big gains this year.

“We just work hard in the shop. All I do is live, eat and sleep racing. It’s truly what I enjoy to do and it’s what I put my heart and soul to do.”

Dillon Bassett, 17, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, collected 13 wins racing his Late Model at seven different tracks throughout the southeast and finished fourth in the standings.

Rounding out the top five is Chad Finchum, 20, of Knoxville, Tennessee, who won the Late Model championship at Lonesome Pine in Coeburn, Virginia, and finished second at Tennessee’s Kingsport Speedway.

Ryan Preece finished sixth in the national standings. Preece is six points behind Ted Christopher heading into Sunday’s SK Modified finale at Stafford, and leads Rocco by 10 points with one race remaining at Thompson. Fourth through sixth in the national standings were separated by just six points.

Kres Vandyke, who won the track championship at Kingsport, placed seventh, while former national champion Peyton Sellers finished eighth after winning the Late Model division at Virginia’s South Boston Speedway. Randy Porter, who competes against Anders at Greenville and Anderson, finished ninth. Completing the top 10 is Tommy Lemons Jr., who raced at Motor Mile, South Boston, Caraway Speedway in Sophia, North Carolina, and Southern National Motor Speedway in Lucama, North Carolina.

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Anthony Anders (36) drove to the Late Model Stock Car division championship at Greenville Pickens Speedway in South Carolina. Getty Images for NASCAR

WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES CHAMPIONS

Nick Heywood won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Rookie of the Year Award presented by Jostens.

Heywood, 26, of Plattsburgh, New York, competes in the asphalt modified division at Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh as well as Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, Vermont. He won the track championship at Airborne. Heywood won the national rookie award by 12 points, 597-585, over Kyle Plott, 18, of Marietta, Georgia. Plott competes in Late Models at Greenville, Anderson and Hickory. Mark Lamberton, who finished third at Airborne, placed third in the national rookie standings.

The rookie of the year is for first-year Division I license holders.

A driver’s top 18 finishes through Sept. 15 count toward the national championship as well a U.S. state and Canadian province championships and rookie honors, and champions are decided on overall point total.

Under the point structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of – up to 18 cars – and three points for a win, with an additional two points available if the driver starts 10th or lower.

Nine of Anders’ wins gave him the maximum 41 points in a race, including his final win of the season on Sept. 14 after starting 17th at Myrtle Beach.

Myrtle Beach is a track where Anders won the 2012 Late Model championship and scored a win in the 20th Annual Myrtle Beach 400 in 2013.

But it was Greenville where Anders fell in love with racing – enough to trade his red 1976 Mustang for a race car, a 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass that he competed with in the Charger Division. He moved up to Late Models in 2005.

When he’s not racing, Anders is operating one of his two companies – Anders Inc., a road construction outfit, and Busy Beaver Tree Service, which specializes in landscaping. A father of four, Anders said his car number – 36 – came from a combination of his favorite driver (Dale Earnhardt) and his wife’s (Mark Martin).

This year, he drove for Hawk-McCall Racing, which fielded a Late Model for 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Ben Rhodes last year.

“This race car has been really outstanding,” said Anders, who plans to compete in the annual Martinsville Late Model race on Oct. 26.

“It’s just like a dream come true for me,” said Anders. “It’s been an honor to be part of this program. I just can’t wait to get to Charlotte.”

Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 58 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.

Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.

A photo gallery of Anthony Anders’ 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship night at Greenville Pickens Speedway in South Carolina.

ANTHONY ANDERS RACE-BY-RACE

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