Kumpen Sees Dream Come True

Kumpen Sees Dream Come True

Euro NASCAR Champion Reflects On First Title, Looks Forward To 2015

There is a flow of emotions in the voice of Anthony Kumpen, the 2014 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Champion, as he speaks about the journey that brought him to the top of the official NASCAR Series in Europe.

“It feels a little bit unreal to be a NASCAR Champion, because I would have never imagined it could be possible. We didn’t even have a NASCAR Series in Europe until a few year ago,” he said. “It’s a dream come true. The opposition was incredibly strong. I didn’t expect the field to be so competitive and that make it even more special!”

The 36-year-old Belgian driver built an outstanding resumé in GT racing across the World in his eclectic career, winning 10 Belgian GT Championships, a record six 24 Hours of Zolder and one 24 Hours of Spa before getting to know the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2013 and having the occasion to realize one of his dreams. As an avid NASCAR fan, Kumpen always looked at NASCAR with great interest and with his enthusiasm he involved in a new challenge his long time friend and racing partner Bert Longin and all the PK Carsport team.

The journey started right from a chassis and a lot of boxes full of parts and pieces of a Euro NASCAR stock-car and ended on the top step of the podium at Le Mans, where Kumpen received the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series trophy after celebrating in victory lane with his wife Griet Vanhees and all his team, including crew-chief Franck Steukers.

2014 ELITE 1 DIVISION STANDINGS | 2014 NWES RESULTS

“I’ve always been a NASCAR fan – it is no coincidence that I choose the number 24 – and as soon as I knew of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, in my mind I wanted to race in it, but a team is made of a lot of people, so during a winter team-building meeting I put a lot of effort in convincing everybody to do it, because I believe that NASCAR is the future of racing in Europe,” said the first driver to succeed Ander Vilarino in the history books of the European NASCAR Series. “Even though somebody had some doubts, everybody now is really happy, from the mechanics to the sponsors. I think this Series has a bright future, and the fact that everybody at PK Carsport is happy means that we took the right decision. We hope to be there for a long time”.

The season for the Hasselt native started on the right foot in Valencia: he and Bert Longin dueled all race long for the win in the Saturday Race but had to surrender the lead in the final stages of the race. The performances were there anyway, and from the second event in Brands Hatch, where Kumpen conquered the second step of the podium in the Sunday Race, the future champion put together a string of impressive finishes, collecting a total of ten top-5s in twelve races. He was on the podium again in the Semi-Finals at Magione, Italy, and won his first race of the season in the Le Mans Finals, delivering a clutch performance that culminated in a perfect overtaking maneuver on Vilarino in the last race of the season. The move granted him the title by just one point on the Spaniard.

“It was a fantastic season and I honestly didn’t expect to win the championship.”, said Kumpen, who was one of the six different drivers to win at least one race in 2014. “The really positive thing is that the Series is growing in the right direction and in the right way. I think it is important that I help this growth, by trying to be a good ambassador for the sport. The main goal is to grow the championship and make it one of the most important in Europe.”

Becoming a NASCAR champion drew attention on Kumpen so much that on November 18 he received a public acknowledgement from the Belgian Minister of Work, Economy, Innovation and Sports, testifying the growing relevance of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in Europe.

“It was really special, because in Belgium there are other sports, like soccer and cycling, which are very popular and very present on the mass media. Never before a Belgian race car driver received this kind of recognition,” said Kumpen. “I’m the first and I never had this opportunity in my entire career. I feel honoured and it also means that the NASCAR concept is very appealing for the general sports market in Belgium.”

In few days for Kumpen it will time to celebrate his achievements in Charlotte, but in the meantime he already announced that he will defend his title in 2015 and expand his program with races in the United States with the help of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series organization.

“While this year I kept racing also in the Belgian GT Championship, for 2015 I will completely switch to stock-car racing,” said the Belgian. “I will try to go back-to-back in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and I also want to put together a program in the US consisting of five to ten races, to gain more experience and continue to grow as a NASCAR driver. We are working very hard with all the parties involved to be ready with a good program”. 

Kumpen will receive the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Champion Ring on December 13, during the NASCAR Night Of Champions Awards at the Charlotte Convention Center in NASCAR Hall of Fame complex, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Anders Ready To Celebrate Title In Style

Anders Ready To Celebrate Title In Style

South Carolina Driver Becomes First New Champion Since 2010

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — When he was 16 years old, Anthony Anders began working with dreams of retiring by the time he was 40.

Racing was also a dream he started having roughly 20 years ago while watching some races with friends at Greenville Pickens Speedway. This season his dream became a reality in the biggest way possible.

While he might still have dreams of retiring from his day job he’s showing no signs of slowing down on the racetrack.

Anders enjoyed a season for the ages at Greenville Pickens, and in the process became the first new NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion since 2010.

“It’s amazing how things have come together for me since 2011,” said Anders. “I can remember when I first started racing one of my goals was just to make it on the scoreboard to see my number in the top five and now we have gone from leading races to winning them and championships. It has been a wonderful past couple of years for our team.”

Anders, 43, lead the national standings from start-to-finish in 2014 thanks to impressive statistics that included 30 wins, 44 top-five and 48 top-10 finishes in 51 starts between Greenville Pickens and nearby Anderson Motor Speedway.

CHAMPION CREW CHIEF: LEE MCCALL

It was Anderson coming back under NASCAR sanction in 2014 that made it possible to pursue the championship.

“In year’s past I have been able to win races but never able to make much of a dent in the national standings,” Anders said. “I was thinking one year at the banquet that if I was ever going to be able to challenge for the national title I had to figure out a way.”

Anders kept racing and after winning the state title in 2013 he was content to give up racing for a national title until he heard Anderson was going to be sanctioned, and he had a timely meeting with cars owners Lee McCall and Randy Hawkins.

Anders was ready to return to his family-owned team until veteran crew chief and car owner McCall and Anders met just before the start of the 2014 campaign. After the duo worked out a deal the rest is now well-documented history.

“This is an unbelievable accomplishment for our company because it was not expected,” McCall said. “We have been fielding late models for a few years now and have been content helping develop young talent and race at a bunch of different tracks. We really didn’t think much about competing at one track until we put a deal together with Anthony just before the season started.”

The new partnership produced results right of the box. In addition to GPS and Anderson, the team made starts at Myrtle Beach and Hickory Speedways.

“We had an unbelievable season and we ran up front and were fast everywhere we went this year,” Anders said. “And one of the things I am proudest of is that I have been able to win at least one race a year since 1993.”

Anders also joined an impressive list of drivers to have his name painted on the Wall of Champions on the backstretch at Greenville Pickens, a list that includes legendary names like David Pearson and Ralph Earnhardt. The only other driver to earn the NWAAS national title from Greenville Pickens was Dexter Canipe in 1997.

The Easley, South Carolina, driver also celebrated his fourth consecutive South Carolina NWAAS state title.

“One of the biggest honors you can have racing at Greenville Pickens Speedway is to have your name on the wall at the track,” Anders added. “For all of us who live in this area and have competed at the track, that is a very big deal for us and on the night I clinched the championship we went back there and put my name up there as national champion and that is something I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Anders also made it known after clinching the NWAAS championship that he will not compete full time next season.

“I will still race some next year but I am going to be focused in helping my son Brandon Lee Fox go after a track title at Greenville Pickens,” Anders said. “He is a talented driver and finished second to me this season and I want to help him go after a track title.”

Anders – along with his crew members Fox, Derek Smith, Derek Latham and Greg Guarry – will be recognized in conjunction with champions from each of the 58 NASCAR-sanctioned tracks at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 12 in the Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Greenville Pickens Speedway honors Anders winning the 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship by painting his name on the wall at the track. Here Anders stands with his wife Tammy during the ceremony.

2014 NWAAS Champion Logo

Fast Finish Earns Pendleton Sweep

Fast Finish Earns Pendleton Sweep

Wins Ohio Crown With Third Consecutive Columbus Title

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Chad Pendleton’s third straight Shamrock Towing Late Model Division championship at Columbus Motor Speedway may have been the hardest to each.

Pendleton entered the season finale third in points. He ended the race in Victory Lane and captured the track title in the process.

“This track title race was more dramatic this year,” said the 34-year-old Grove City, Ohio, driver. “I knew going into it, that I could win if all the stars aligned. Misfortunes to the other cars helped me.”

Pendleton started the final race in eighth, behind both drivers he was chasing. But Kyle Purvis dropped out with ignition failure and multi-time track champion Donnie Hill was sidelined by engine woes. That opened the door for Pendleton, who drove to his seventh win of the season.

Pendleton had 18 top fives and 19 top 10s in 21 starts at the Columbus and Kil-Kare Speedway in Xenia to also be crowned the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Ohio champion.

Pendleton and his three consecutive titles is the third longest streak in Columbus’ history book. Hill holds the record with five straight between 2005-09. Robbie Dean won four in a row from 1980-83.

“Drivers either love or hate the track,” Pendleton said. “It’s a place where you need to make your car more consistent on the outside.”
 
“I started going to the track at around 2 or 3. My dad and uncles raced there. I started racing on the quarter midget track located behind the speedway. When I was sixteen and got my racing license, I started racing there.”

Pendleton will be honored at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards at the NASCAR Hall of Fame/Charlotte Convention Center on Friday, Dec. 12.

NASCAR will crown 58 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champions across the United States and Canada. In addition, NASCAR will celebrate the top three finishers in the national standings, as well as the U.S. state and Canadian province champions, top finishers in the Div. II-V and special award winners in Charlotte.

Pendleton prepared for this season a little differently than previous years, with the purchase of a new ride.

“I bought a new car at the beginning of last winter. It came from a really good home and not much needed to be done with it,” said Pendleton.  “Corey at Advance Racing Suspension, helped us with little fixes that made it three times better.”

The start of the season however, didn’t start out the way he planned.

“I felt like something was lacking in the car a couple races into the season,” said Pendleton. “After a couple losses, the Memorial in particular, I figured out there was a minor problem with the car. Once we got it fixed, everything fell into place.”

Pendleton just finished his sixth season driving for Gary and Connie Busch, Gary also serves as crew chief for his Late Model.

“I am definitely thankful to Gary and Connie Busch for all of their support over the years,” said Pendleton. “I also owe a huge thanks to my crew members Chad Webb, Nick Brown and Justin Wither as well as sponsors Shamrock Towing, Joe’s Automobile Repair, Sports On Tap and Your Custom Graphics.” 

Pendleton’s plans for this upcoming season are pretty simple.

“I love what I do and the people I get to do it with,” said Pendleton. “As long as I continue to love what I’m doing and keep having fun out there, count me in.”

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Div. I drivers are ranked by their best 18 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.

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, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.

nwaas_champion_feature_chad_pendleton_race_action_ohio_112614

Pendleton was named the Columbus Motor Speedway track champion for the third year in a row. Douglas Nicodemus/TracksidePix.com

Zacharias Continues Championship Run

Zacharias Continues Championship Run

Four NASCAR Track Titles In Five Years At Chemung

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jimmy Zacharias’ past success at Chemung Speedrome has elevated his expectations to the point that winning 40-percent of this year’s modified races qualified as just okay.

“It wasn’t bad,” Zacharias said of his latest championship season at the .375-mile oval located in the hills of New York’s Southern Tier. “It wasn’t as good as the previous four, but it was still good.”

2014 NASCAR TRACK CHAMPIONS

The 23-year-old Zacharias won six of 15 Sunoco Modified division races at Chemung in 2014. While that was technically a step back from wins in eight of 17 features a year ago, it was still plenty sufficient to take home the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track championship for the second season in a row, and fourth time in five years.

The one season that the Candor, New York, driver didn’t take the track title in the last half decade, his brother T.J. Zacharias did. Five in a row for the family has become a point of pride.

“The whole family is proud of pretty much taking over the speedway the last five years,” Zacharias said. “Between me and my brother, we’re doing everything we can to win races and keeping it all in the family.”

When competing on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, T.J. serves as a crew member for Jimmy’s efforts, but on Friday nights at Chemung the brothers go head-to-head, Jimmy in the No. 71 and T.J. in the 17.

“When we’re competing, we’re still in the same camp, but we do run each other like anybody else,” Zacharias said. “I think we might actually run each other a little harder just for bragging rights at the dinner table.”

Zacharias was able to brag six times in 2014, but his first win didn’t come until the sixth race of the season. It was the consistency that he exhibited in the early going that ultimately put Zacharias in position to win another championship. He was a top-10 finisher in all 15 features, including 13 in the top five behind the wheel of the No. 71 Central States Used Clothing Chevrolet.

“It was more difficult, I can tell you that,” Zacharias said when comparing 2014 to previous seasons. “I had a lot of mechanical problems. We kind of started the year out bad and I didn’t think it (a championship) was going to happen again this year, but nobody gave up and we kept doing everything right. We didn’t have as many wins this year as we’ve had in the past, but we had more consistent finishes this year.”

Zacharias’ main competition this year came from Connor Sellars, a 15-year-old driver who rose from quarter midgets a year ago to compete in Chemung’s NWAAS Division I Sunoco Modifieds this year.

The competition wasn’t quite what you might expect from two front-runners, however.

“His car came out of my camp too,” Zacharias said. “He’s a good friend. Me, my brother and my dad helped him and his dad all year. I helped him on the setup, gave him what he needed and helped him grow into it. It was his first year in the car and he did really great. He raced everybody clean and it was fun racing with him.”

In the end, Zacharias clinched the title with two races to go on the schedule and out-pointed Sellars 970-864 in the final rundown. T.J. Zacharias finished fifth in the track standings.

Since the modern era at Chemung began in 2001 with NASCAR-sanctioned of racing, Zacharias’s four championships are more than any other driver. He was tied with J.R. Kent with three titles entering this year.

“Winning four out of five championships and pretty much dominating all of the races the last five years is something I definitely hold pride in,” Zacharias said. “Nobody has really accomplished that in Chemung’s history, so to be young and to be able to do that is something that is going to carry on with me throughout my life.”

Zacharias’ 2014 championship effort was supported by Floyd’s Used Clothing, NAPA Auto Parts of Candor, Penguin’s Cooling System and Buckley’s Automotive in addition to primary sponsor Central States Used Clothing. Zacharias’ grandfather, Jim, and his parents Terry and Gina own the cars and additional crew help came from his brother T.J., Mike Bohling, Chris Clemens, Matt Clemens, Corey Mosher and Josh Sinsabaugh.

Zacharias’ accomplishments will be recognized alongside champions from each of the 58 NASCAR-sanctioned tracks at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 12 in the Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Zacharias in the No. 71 Central States Used Clothing Chevrolet. Chemung Speedrome

2014 Was A Solid, Successful Season For Team Penske

Brad Keselowski won six races in 2014 and was an integral part of Team Penske's successful season.

Brad Keselowski won six races in 2014 and was an integral part of Team Penske’s successful season.

The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season was the year of Team Penske.

The two-car Ford team was, in the end, the best in the sport. Its drivers, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, combined to win 11 races and ultimately finish fourth (Logano) and fifth (Keselowski) in the final point standings.

But that is hardly the full story.

For most of the season Hendrick Motorsports held sway. The four-car team was in front, or near the front, of the point standings for the majority of the season.

After Atlanta, one race before the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup at Richmond, Hendrick teams claimed three of the top five in the point standings, with Jeff Gordon in first followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in second and Jimmie Johnson fifth.

The Hendrick foursome claimed 10 victories and, with all drivers in the Chase, there was little reason not to think that one of them would claim the title.

However, Logano was third in points and Keselowski fifth.

Keselowski dominated the last event before the Chase, at Richmond, which moved him to No 1 in points as the “playoffs” began.

Joey Logano, who won five races for Penske this year was, like Keselowski, ranked first in points more than once during the Chase.

Joey Logano, who won five races for Penske this year was, like Keselowski, ranked first in points more than once during the Chase.

He won again at Chicago and scored top-10 finishes at Loudon and Dover to be atop the standings after the first elimination round.

But guess what? In that first round Logano scored three top-five finishes, including a win at Loudon.

Penske was one-two in points with Keselowski in the lead. Hendrick drivers Johnson, Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon, were fourth, sixth and seventh, respectively.

As has been reported often, the end for three of the Hendrick teams came at Kansas, the first race of the second elimination round.

Kasey Kahne finished 22nd, Earnhardt Jr. 39th after mechanical problems and Johnson 40th after he was involved in a multicar accident.

Their chances for survival quickly took a big hit, something not unusual in the new Chase format.

Keselowski didn’t fare much better. He wound up 37th and after the race, he, Earnhardt Jr. and Johnson were at the bottom of the 12-man ranking. Only eight would move on.

But consider this: Logano won at Kansas, which meant he would safely advance to the next round. Penske teams won five   three of the first five Chase races and finished second in another.

However, while Logano was atop the standings Keselowski was scrambling for his life.

He had only two races to save himself – and that he did with a victory at Talladega. He advanced and was eighth among the competitors who did so.     Consider that Penske won four of six Chase races. At the same time Hendrick had only one winner -Gordon – and three of its drivers were no longer in the Chase.

In the end, it wasn’t to be for Penske. Hendrick won the next two races with Earnhardt Jr. and Johnson.

Going into the third round, at Phoenix – the one that would determine the championship finalists – Logano was first in points and Keselowski seventh and holding on. 

Keselowski didn’t make it to Homestead. Logano did and was second in points.

It evolved that Kevin Harvick won at Homestead, as he did at Phoenix, and became he 2014 champion.

Logano, in the hunt at Homestead for most of the day, was very disappointed in his final 16th-place finish.

“I screwed up and hit the wall early and we were able to recover then had the mistake on pit road which didn’t give us enough time to recover from that,” he said. “It is unfortunate.

Execution was our strong point all year and we just didn’t do it at Homestead. For that reason we finished fourth after I think we scored the most points this whole Chase.

“This was an awesome experience. This is the first time I have had a shot at winning a championship and the first time I won more than one race in a season. It has been a spectacular year.”

Keselowski, who wound up a solid third at Homestead, was philosophical about the season.

“The fastest car all season – Kevin (Harvick) – won the championship,” he said. “I think that is right. We had the most wins and finished seventh.

“You can argue every case for a championship scenario but the reality is that we all knew what it took to win going in and Kevin and his team did it.”

But it must be said that what Team Penske – Logano and Keselowski – did was very admirable.

Eleven victories in 2014 joined by 33 finishes among the top five and 42 among the top 10.

With four cars, twice as many, Hendrick earned 13 wins, 40 top-five finishes and 74 among the top 10.

In seven of the 10 races that made up the Chase, a Penske car was ranked No. 1 in points. A Hendrick car was atop the standings only once.

The highest Hendrick finisher for the season was Gordon, in sixth.

All of this might be, to you, nitpicking.

But I don’t think there is any argument that when it came to the Chase – the time that mattered – Penske was clearly superior.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulliam Nets Virginia State, Motor Mile Titles

Pulliam Nets Virginia State, Motor Mile Titles

Two-Time National Champion Finishes A Close Second This Season

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — For most NASCAR drivers, a 2014 résumé with 25 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series wins, a track crown at Motor Mile Speedway and Virginia state title would be something to be ecstatic about, but then again, most drivers aren’t Lee Pulliam.

Pulliam, who was the two-time defending NWAAS champion, finished in the top three in the final national standings for the fourth consecutive year. This time, however, Pulliam came up 12 points shy of what could have been a record-setting third straight national title.

“We had a phenomenal year getting 25 wins at four different tracks,” Pulliam said. “We came up just a little short of the national title, but I can’t thank everyone enough for their support.”

Pulliam is always looking for an advantage and opportunity to get better and despite coming off two straight national championships with his family-owned team. The 26 year-old driver decided to join forces with car owners Travis and Eddie Kiker in 2014 and the new partnership provided immediate results.

Pulliam and the Kikers first teamed up last November to compete in the Myrtle Beach 400 and they won the race right out of the box. The Kikers, who previously fielded cars for veteran late model drivers Frank Deiny Jr. and Brandon Dean, picked up the track championship at Motor Mile and the Virginia state title with Pulliam behind the wheel in their first full season together.

“After the end of the regular season last year, I talked with Travis and Eddie and we decided to go down and run the race in Myrtle Beach and see how we did and we wound up winning,” Pulliam added. “After we won that race we decided to partner up for this season and the results speak for themselves.” 

Pulliam picked six wins en route to his third consecutive track championship at Motor Mile in Radford, Virginia. In addition to racing at Motor Mile, Pulliam also competed at South Boston Speedway in Virginia and North Carolina ovals Caraway Speedway and Southern National Motorsports Park.

While the partnership with new car owners has been successful on the track, he is quick to credit his family who helped him get his career off the ground.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of my family – especially my mom (Debra) and dad (Stuart),” Pulliam said. “We have had an unbelievable run since we started racing years ago in a limited late model. I would put our current run up against anyone in the country and it all started with my parents and a lot of good people believing in me.”

How good a stretch has it been since 2011 for the Semora, North Carolina native? How does over 100 wins (97 in NWAAS sanctioned events) with a third place finish in the final standings (2011), and back-to-back national titles (2012 & 2013) in addition to this year’s runner-up finish.

Along with his success on the track, Pulliam has also ventured into the business side of racing, opening Lee Pulliam Performance. Pulliam prepares his cars out of the shop along with cars for drivers Dalton Sargeant and Rusty Skews, and also fielded a car last spring for Matt Kenseth to race in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Challenge at South Boston.

“We have a dedicated group of guys who help me with the cars here at the shop,” Pulliam said. “We built this shop on my grandmother’s farm. She (Muriel Dawson) passed away last year and was always one of my biggest supporters and she always believed in me. I wish she was here to see what we have accomplished so far.”

Crew chief Winston Brooks and crewman Chris Crosby work on all the cars in the shop with Pulliam, and when he isn’t racing, he’s at the track working with drivers who compete in cars prepared by the two-time NWAAS champion and his staff.

“I have to pinch myself with how things have gone for me in my career over the past four years,” Pulliam said. “It is a dream come true for me and we’re not finished. We plan on coming back next year and going after more championships. We want to win another track, state and national title.”

Pulliam will be recognized alongside champions from each of the 58 NASCAR-sanctioned tracks at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 12 in the Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Lee Pulliam finished second in the final standings in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series this season. 

Toyota Series Celebrates Best Of 2014

Toyota Series Celebrates Best Of 2014

Calderón Honored As Series Champion

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — All the action, excitement and intensity of the 2014 NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series was on display last night in Mexico City for the series’ awards gala at the Plaza Condesa. Drivers of Latin America’s most important motorsports series joined sponsors, team owners, series’ executives and media members to celebrate the top accomplishments from the recently completed season. 

Without a doubt, the driver that earned the loudest ovation at the moment his name was announced was Abraham Calderón. The driver of the No. 2 Telcel Toyota finished the 15-race season atop the championship standings, securing for the Telcel team its first championship since 2011.

“This trophy reflects the hard work of everyone on the team,” said Calderón. “Without them, this championship wouldn’t be possible. It was a very complicated, tiring season, but in the end it was all worth it. I appreciate all the support that Jimmy Morales, Carlos Slim and my teammates gave me this year.”

Federico Alamán, General Director of NASCAR Mexico, Juan Carlos Ortiz, Director of Operations of NASCAR Mexico, Enrique Contreras, Directo of the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series, José Sánchez Jassen, President of the Mexican Federation of Automotive Sports, Jorge Murakami, Senior Marketing Manager at Toyota Motor Sales in Mexico, George Silbermann, Vice President of Regional and Touring Series for NASCAR and Joe Balash, International Competition Liaison, were all on hand to present the championship ring. 

Alejandro Vega earned the Crew Chief of the Year award for his work at the helm of the No. 2 Telcel Toyota.

“I’d like to congratulate Abraham Calderón for his championship and every one of the drivers that competed to the best of their ability,” said Alamán. “We’ve created a very successful sports platform where young drivers from the V6 series have made the jump to NASCAR Mexico and are now being successful abroad like is the case with Daniel Suárez, Germán Quiroga and all those that will follow in their footsteps.”

In addition to honoring the new series champion and crew chief, other notable accomplishments of the 2014 season were celebrated during the awards ceremony. Top Desafío drivers Rubén García Jr, Rubén Rovelo, Rubén Pardo, Antonio Pérez, Daniel Suárez, Irwin Vences, Rogelio López, José Luis Ramírez, Luis Felipe Montaño, Homero Richards and Carlos Peralta received trophies for the strong 2014 campaigns. 

Mario Dominguez took home Rookie of the Year honors in the Toyota Series while Hugo Oliveras was awarded the Carlos Pardo award for his outstanding work in promoting the series and expanding its reach to new fans.  

Pérez won the “Camry Champions” award, Suárez earned the distinction of “Poleman” for his three pole awards in 2014, and Rodrigo Marbán was voted the series’ Most Popular Driver by the fans. 

In the Stock V6 Series, Ramiro Fidalgo Jr. was honored for his championship season in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series’ support division. The San Luis Potosi native also earned the series’ Rookie of the Year honors. Edgar Mondragón, Julio César Villalobos, Giovanni Rodrigo and Neftalí Mondragón were honored for their top-five finish in the overall points standings.

Victor Pineda, Competition Director for the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series, and Gabriel Zúñiga “Blue,” Coordinator of Garages, presented the Series Official of the Year and Series Official Rookie of the Year awards to Jesús Ramírez and Mauricio González respectively.

“It’s very exciting that seven years ago we saw drivers debut in the V6 series and now they’re champions of NASCAR Mexico,” said Contreras, referring to Calderón and 2013 champion Rodrigo Peralta, both of whom debuted with the V6 series. “Their progression through the sport is reflected in their work, their determination and their desire to win. We had a lot of new challenges this year, including the new chassis in the V8 series and every year we keep working towards our goal of being a highly competitive series. Congratulations to everyone.”

To close out the ceremonies, NASCAR Vice President of Touring of Regional and Touring Series took the stage to praise the drivers.

“In the coming weeks, we are going to open a new section in the NASCAR Hall of Fame that will include the names of all the Mexico series champions, including Abraham Calderón. On behalf of all the NASCAR employees, I congratulate you for the extraordinary work you put forward and for being one of the best series outside of the United States.”

The next stop for the Toyota Series is Charlotte, North Carolina, where they will join the top names from across NASCAR’s other touring series on Saturday, Dec. 13 at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards in the Grand Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

ntsmx_awards_champion_abraham-calderon_speech_112014.jpgAbraham Calderón won his first NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series championship and the first title for Telcel Racing since 2011. Courtesy OCESA Sports / Carlos Herrera De Los Santos

Touring Series Most Popular Drivers Revealed

Touring Series Most Popular Drivers Revealed

Champions Rhodes, Seuss Lead 2014 Honorees

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The fans have spoken, and they have selected a pair of series champions as well as a pair of repeat award winners in balloting for the NASCAR regional touring series’ 2014 Most Popular Driver Awards.

The Most Popular Driver Award winners for 2014 are:
• Ben Rhodes (Louisville, Ky.), NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
• Brandon McReynolds (Mooresville, N.C.), NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
• J.R. Fitzpatrick (Ayr, Ont.), NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1
• Rodrigo Marban (Mexico City), NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series
• Freddy Nordstrom (London), NASCAR Whelen Euro Series
• Melissa Fifield (Wakefield, N.H.), NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
• Andy Seuss (Hampstead, N.H.), NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour

First-time award winners from the group include Rhodes, McReynolds, Marban and Fifield while Nordstrom and Seuss retained their popular status from last year’s balloting.

Rhodes, the 2014 champion of the K&N Pro Series East, garnered the most votes of any driver in 2014, 450 more than Marban of the Mexico Toyota Series. K&N Pro Series East drivers also received the most collective votes of any series, 2,133 more than the Mexico Toyota Series.

The closest race was in the Canadian Tire Series where championship runner-up Fitzpatrick edged Alex Tagliani by just 48 votes. Fitzpatrick was also the Most Popular Driver in the series’ inaugural 2007 season.

McReynolds captured 42-percent of the K&N Pro Series West vote for the largest individual share of any series while the largest margin of victory came in the Mexico Toyota Series where Marban outdistanced the nearest competition by 1,226 votes.

Fifield, a rookie in 2014, made history as the first female competitor to take home the Most Popular Driver Award in 30 years of Whelen Modified Tour competition.

Nordstrom and the Whelen Southern Modified Tour titlist Seuss now have the most career awards among the 2014 selectees with three apiece. Nordstrom’s have come in successive fashion while Seuss previously won in 2009 and 2013.

The Most Popular Driver Award winners will be recognized as part of the NASCAR Touring Series Awards on Dec. 13 in the Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Ursetta Achieves Childhood Dream

Ursetta Achieves Childhood Dream

Colorado Champ Takes Title At Hometown Track

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Dominic Ursetta has been dreaming about winning at Colorado National Speedway since he was a little boy.

“I use to pray that I would get the chance to race there when I was little,” said Ursetta of the track in his hometown of Dacona, Colorado. “It’s an honor to race on my home track alongside some of the people I used to watch.”

In 2014, the 26-year-old took that dream a step further: He won the Gillet Vet Clinic Super Late Model Division championship in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track’s top division.

It was his first championship at the .375-mile paved oval. And the fact that it came at the track he grew up watching – one known for its competition – made it all the more sweeter.

“The Colorado National Speedway has a lot of character. It’s a rougher track that always has good racing,” said Ursetta. “To win there this season and become the track champion is awesome.”

In his third season racing in asphalt stock cars, Ursetta had nine wins, 11 top fives and 13 top 10s in 15 starts.

In winning the track title, Ursetta out-distanced eight-time champion Bruce Yackey by 29 points. Ursetta also won the Whelen All-American Series Colorado championship over Yackey.

Ursetta will be honored at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards at the NASCAR Hall of Fame/Charlotte Convention Center on Friday, Dec. 12.

NASCAR will crown 58 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champions across the United States and Canada. In addition, NASCAR will celebrate the top three finishers in the national standings, as well as the U.S. state and Canadian province champions, top finishers in the Div. II-V and special award winners in Charlotte.

2014 NWAAS TRACK CHAMPIONS  |  STATE/PROVINCE CHAMPIONS

Ursetta’s success this year came with a lot of hard-work and preparation.

“We were more prepared this season and we had stuff go our way,” said Ursetta. “After winning my sixth race in a row, I knew I had a chance to win the title.”

One of his most memorable races was the Challenge Cup and the Challenge Cup XL.

After fininshing third in the Challenge Cup race, Ursetta went onto dominate the field in the Challenge Cup XL. He finished nearly half a lap ahead of the field and lapped all but three cars in the race.

“I grew up around the track and the Challenge Cup was always one of my favorite races. I prayed that I would one day get the chance to race in those races,” said Ursetta. “I was honored to race against the people I used to watch.”

“To go out there and dominate the field and earn the win was special.”

Although fairly new to racing on asphalt, Ursetta is no stranger to winning and earning titles. He spent several years racing on dirt where he won numerous trophies.

In 2012, Ursetta moved to Colorado National’s Late Model division.

“Racing on dirt and pavement are two different worlds. I struggled my first year on pavement,” said Ursetta. “Eventually I got with the right people and learned the right way to race on asphalt and all my stuggles and hard-work paid off.”

Dominic credits his amazing season to the support of sponsors Arvada Excavating and Productive Data Solutions, as well as his father (Dub Ursetta), his mother (Regina DeBaise), his stepfather (Joe DeBaise), and his crew of Scott and Anthony Rhoades, James “Gator” Prescott, Marcus Ratzlaff and Mike Bergle.

Ursetta is already looking forward to next season.

“As good as we ran, we want to improve,” Ursetta said. “We want to try to win everything we can in order to try and repeat.”

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Div. I drivers are ranked by their best 18 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.

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, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.

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In his third season racing asphalt, Dominic Ursetta won his first NASCAR championship at Colorado National Speedway. Joe Starr

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