Brown Crowned Division IV Champion

Brown Crowned Division IV Champion

Wins First National Title In Family History

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A third-generation driver, 15-year-old Grant Brown has achieved a family first: A NASCAR national championship.

The Prior Lake, Minnesota, teen became the first in his family to win a title when he was crowned the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division IV champion while racing at Elko Speedway in Minnesota.

“It feels really good to be the champion,” said Brown. “We came a really long way in a short period of time. It wasn’t handed to us, we worked really hard and earned the title. It was a cool experience and a fun ride.”

nwaas15_champBrown earned six wins, 15 top fives and 18 tops 10s and the track championship in Elko’s Pepsi Powerstock division, a title he was gunning for after coming close to winning it last year during his rookie season.

At the end of last season, Brown was tied with Nick Oxborough in the division standings with 922 points. Brown ended up losing to Oxborough via the track’s tiebreaker; Oxborough had three wins to Brown’s none.

“It was a pretty good season for us,” Brown said of his 2015 run. “We had six feature wins and four heat wins and we were consistent. We lost the track championship last year, so we wanted redeem ourselves this year and earn some wins to avoid a similar situation.” 

There to help along the way was Brown’s dad, Doug, a fellow Elko competitor and four time track champion in the track’s Big 8 Division.

“My dad always gives me solid advice,” said Brown. “He gives me tips on how to get better and how to beat the competition. When I started to move up and battle for both titles, he would tell me to be consistent and that I didn’t need to wreck to win, I just needed to finish.”

He also had his grandfather former racer, Doug LeFebvre, in his corner as well.

“My grandfather raced in the early 90s,” Brown said. “He came out to the track a couple of times this season, but he always supported and offered advice when I needed it.”

Brown followed in his dad and grandfather’s footsteps and began competing in quarter midgets when he was just 5 years old. He moved up Elko’s ranks over the years and won their Bandolero division title in 2012.

When he’s not at the race track winning national titles, Brown is a normal teenager. He is attending high school and making plans for his future. He’s previously won a scholarship to the University of Northwestern Ohio, and if racing doesn’t pan out, he plans to attend in order to study the business side of racing.

In fact, he found out he was the national champion while he was at school and most of his peers didn’t even know he was competing for the title.

“My dad sent me the text while I was at school,” said Brown. “He sent me a phone number and said I needed call. I spoke with someone at NASCAR and they told me I was the Division IV champion, then I went back to class.

“Most of my classmates were and still are unaware. Only my friends knew I was competing for a track and national championship. So the day went on as normal.”

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division II through 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.

Brown finished with 470 points, to edge defending champion AJ Sanders (464) and Glenn Forward (462). Sanders races at North Carolina’s Bowman Gray Stadium and Caraway Speedway, while Forward competes at New York’s Utica-Rome Speedway.

One person who shared Brown’s joy about his new championship title was his father.

“He was so excited,” Brown said. “It was not only my first championship, but the first national championship my family has won. It’s a great experience for not only me and my family, but my team as well.

“This season wouldn’t have been possible without them. My mom and dad, my crew chief Mark Berg, the team: Mike, Chris, Darrell, Doug and Mike. Along with my sponsors Advance Auto Parts, Doug’s Auto Service and Matt’s Engine’s. Without them and everyone else who supported my throughout the year, none of this would be possible.”

Brown and his family will celebrate his titles at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 11 at the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“We can’t wait to go to Charlotte to celebrate,” said Brown. “We’re really looking forward to it.”

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 series tracks throughout the United States and Canada participated in 2015.

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


Brown, a third generation driver, celebrates a win at Minnesota’s Elko Speedway. Martin DeFries/Redline Graphics

NASCAR: Will Danica Patrick and Stewart Turn It Around in 2016?

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart

The crew chiefs in NASCAR have begun to rival the drivers when it comes to silly season rumors, but unlike F1, you tend to know earlier who the crew chiefs will be. Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick have brought in new crew chiefs for their respective cars.

Danica:

Patrick, who brings a whack of cash to the SHR organization is often vilified. On the other hand, there seems to be a reason as she changes crew and chiefs like red lights in Shanghai. She’s hard to work with is what most of my sources say. My sources who were close to her at one point tell me it’s the IndyCar effect: Most of the IndyCar drivers are used to working with engineers rather than old school crew chiefs.

Patrick has seemingly developed the attitude of the Diva. It’s a common occurrence in open-wheel: ‘It’s the car, not me.’ That’s something the drivers in IndyCar can get away with for only so long as everything they do in their cars is captured on software, so you can run, but you can’t hide from the dreaded software. It tells all.

Her former crew chief, Daniel Knost is heading for a new position in the SHR camp as manager of vehicle dynamics, Knost will oversee a number of the organization’s technical efforts, with a specific focus on track simulation and racecar performance.

The 36-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, has been a crew chief at SHR for two years, spending 2014 with the #41 team of Kurt Busch and 2015 with the #10 team of Patrick.

Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick

Knost joined SHR in 2008 when it was Haas-CNC Racing after earning Master of Science and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Childers remains as crew chief for the #4 team of Harvick and Tony Gibson remains as crew chief for the #41 team of Busch.

Don’t expect the dynamics to change as Patrick has a reputation for being the “Alonso” of the Cup Series. All one has to do is listen to her radio in snapshots from all of the races and you begin to see where the difficulty lies.

Maybe Billy Scott, the replacement for Knost, will have a better experience as the problem seems to lie in the chemistry department. Knost joined SHR in 2008 when it was Haas-CNC Racing after earning Master of Science and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

The 38-year-old from Land O’ Lakes, Florida, comes to SHR from Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) where since 2014 he was the crew chief for the No. 55 team.

Stewart:

It had to be a very difficult season for Stewart with injuries and legal battles all the while trying to remain relevant as a team owner. It was a hard road for Stewart who unlike Patrick blames himself and not the car. Stewart has always been a driver who would look from within to seek the answers as opposed to calling the car out.

That’s a rare quality, how many drivers do you know who would say: ‘It’s my fault, not the car’. It’s very rare in all types of motor racing, but an admirable quality nonetheless.

Look for Stewart to try and capitalize on the 2016 package which should see the cars as tough to handle given the new low-downforce rules. However Stewart has to buckle down and try and develop the chemistry with his new crew chief, Michael Burgarwicz.

Michael Bugarewicz has been promoted from race engineer on the #4 team to crew chief for the #14 team of Tony Stewart. The 33-year-old from Lehighton, Pennsylvania, replaces Chad Johnston, who has left SHR to pursue a new opportunity. Bugarewicz joined SHR in 2014 where in his role as race engineer, he helped Kevin Harvick secure his first Sprint Cup championship.

You have to wonder how Kevin Harvick let him go, but Tony has the final say and seems to know what he’s doing. Uncle Gene, not withstanding.

There’s not much to say about Tony Stewart except one has to hope that he can emulate Jeff Gordon’s retirement year. If the 2016 low-downforce cars suit him, he will be a factor for the Chase. Well, if the Chase does have an eraser change before Daytona.

Let’s hope the best for Tony as the, hopefully, looser cars will suit his driving style.

He needs a spark and a good performance to motivate him as the 2015 season took a toll on Smoke.

But Hey, Smoke rises-right?

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Surprised With Success In 2015

Thomas Surprised With Success In 2015

Wins NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division III Title

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Every year there is a driver who is honestly surprised with their success and this year’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division III national champion fits the bill.

Patrick Thomas started the season at New Smyrna Speedway – just down the road from the Daytona Beach, Florida, home office of NASCAR – just wanting to have fun and drive his sportsman car with no idea what was potentially in front of him.

The first-time NASCAR license holder can now call himself a champion.

After he finished his daytime job of designing blue prints to build screen enclosures for Florida residents to enclose their pools and backyards, the Oviedo, Florida, native would jump into a hobby of his since he was a kid. He just never thought the hobby would lead to a championship.

“I never thought much about the NASCAR points structure for weekly racing because I never knew much about it,” Thomas said. “We didn’t even realize that we had a chance to win the Division III title until we were about halfway through the season.”

Thomas traveled to different tracks competing in the Southern Sportsman Series from 2004-08 and captured the series title during his final season on the tour. 

“This was the first year I’ve ever competed full-time in a weekly racing program,” Thomas said. “I won a lot of races in the past but this year everything just fell into place for us.”

Thomas finished the season with 11 wins and 14 top fives in 15 starts. Thomas outdistanced Brent Kane of Minnesota’s Elko Speedway by just 10 (513-503) points for the Division III national crown and he also won the New Smyrna title over Earl Beckner by 43 points (832-789).

The 38-year-old driver started his career in 1985 in quarter midgets and moved up to street stocks about a decade later and eventually moving to sportsman cars.

The second-generation driver is appreciative of his most recent accomplishment behind the wheel.

“I want to thank NASCAR and Whelen Engineering for making this championship available to racers and winning this title has already opened doors for me to continue driving,” Thomas said. “After I won the NWAAS Division III title I had another car owner approach me to drive his car next year.”

Thomas damaged his car after the end of the NWAAS points season and was able to fix his car in time for a special event race. That is when the car owner, Jim Harris, met with him and the two put together a deal to finish out this year and all of next year.

“I really appreciate New Smyrna Speedway partnering with NASCAR with their NASCAR Whelen All-American Series,” Thomas said. “What they do for short track racing at the local level is really special.”

Thomas has a small crew of helpers and he said he wouldn’t be the champion without their help.

“My wife Kristi spots for me and Brad May is my crew chief who helps with my setups, and we are the only ones who were there every week and we did the best we could,” Thomas said. “The great thing about partnering with Jim next year is we’ll have more resources and double the crew members to try and win another title.”

Thomas is also slated to change is his car number. In 2015 he drove the No. 25, and next year it will be the No. 111 Chevrolet sponsored by Harris Oil/Harris Mini Storage.  

Thomas will be honored for his NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division III championship along with other division, track and state/province champions from across North America as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 11 at the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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 participated in 2015.

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 are among the many showcases for Whelen products.

Gibson Piled Up Numbers & Trophies

Gibson Piled Up Numbers & Trophies

Career Year Produces Anderson Title, S.C. Runner-Up

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – At just 23, Trey Gibson proves that champions are not defined by numbers.

Although his numbers are pretty darn good.

Ending the season with 15 victories, 29 top fives and 30 top 10s – as well as ranking 55th in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and second in South Carolina – the Easley, S.C. native earned the 2015 Division I championship for Anderson Motor Speedway in the Late Model Stock Car Division.

“This year has been, by far, the best year I’ve had in my racing career,” he said. “We had a phenomenal season – you couldn’t ask for a better year.”

Situated in Anderson, S.C., the .375-mile oval is dubbed the “Supertrack of the Carolinas” – known for producing close, competitive short track racing every weekend. Gibson scored four of his wins at Anderson and edged R.A. Brown by eight points.

“It’s great side-by-side racing,” Gibson said. “It’s ran by great people, the people who work there are nice, the facility’s nice – just an ait’s ll-around great race track.”

This season, Gibson also finished second in points at South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway.

Gibson said when the season first started, their strategy was just to go to the track every weekend and get a win.

“We weren’t even worried about the points,” he said. “We went there for a win. We just let it play out, and fortunately, it played out well for us.”

Gibson started his racing career when he was 8 driving go-karts, eventually moving to four-cylinder stocks when he was 14. He said racing runs in the family, and his 2015 track championship has made them very proud.

“Especially my papa,” he said. “To be able to share this moment and this year with him is just awesome.”

Two years ago, Gibson collected four wins in 13 starts between Greenville and Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Last year, he made 12 starts between Greenville and Hickory. He had nine top fives but didn’t have a win. He finished 199th in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I standings.

Gibson will be honored for his Anderson Speedway crown along with other track and state/province champions from across North America as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 11 at the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.

Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. Competitors at 58 paved and dirt tracks throughout North America vied for track, state and province, and overall series championships in Divisions I-V throughout the 2015 season.

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

nwaas_anderson_trey-gibson_car

Trey Gibson drove to the Late Model Stock Car championship at Anderson Speedway in South Carolina. Blakely Sheriff Photography

Eggleston Will Return To Defend K&N Title

Eggleston Will Return To Defend K&N Title

Gilliland And Herbst Join BMR Roster For 2016

ROSEVILLE, Calif. – Bill McAnally Racing today announced that Chris Eggleston, Todd Gilliland and Riley Herbst will drive for the team in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series for 2016.

Plans call for all three drivers to run the full schedule in the K&N Pro Series West, with select events in the K&N Pro Series East worked into the schedule.

Eggleston returns for a second year after capturing the 2015 championship in the K&N Pro Series West in his first full season in the series.  Gilliland, the 15-year-old son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran driver David Gilliland, is coming off a win at Phoenix in his series debut – becoming the youngest winner in the series. Herbst, who comes from a racing family well known in off-road competition, is coming off an outstanding season where he won a championship as a rookie at Irwindale (California) Speedway. The 16-year-old will be making his debut in the K&N Pro Series West.

“We’re excited to announce this portion of our program for the K&N Pro Series in 2016,” said BMR President Bill McAnally. “It’s great to have Chris return to defend his title and to have such talented young drivers as Todd and Riley join the team. We have high expectations, based on what we have seen from all three of them.”

The team is focused on building on its performance from this past season, McAnally said.

“We finished the year strong, with Chris clinching the championship at Phoenix and Todd scoring the win in his series debut,” he said. “We plan to work hard in the off-season to carry that momentum forward into next season.”

Eggleston won his first race with BMR in 2014 and that led to him running the full season and capturing the title in 2015. The 26-year-old hails from Erie, Colorado and is a graduate of Colorado State University. He has accumulated three wins, 11 top-five, and 12 top-10 finishes in 17 career starts in the K&N Pro Series West.

“Chris took the opportunity he had in 2014 and responded with a win,” McAnally said. “And with the opportunity to run a full season in 2015, he responded with a championship. We’re looking forward to continued success with him.”

Eggleston honed his talent competing at his home track of Colorado National Speedway, a 3/8-mile short track just north of Denver. It was the site of his first career series win in 2014.

“I am very excited and fortunate to have the opportunity to join forces again with Bill McAnally Racing for the 2016 season,” Eggleston said. “I am really looking forward to building on the success that we had this year and have high hopes to defend our championship.

“Bill has a lot of great guys that work very hard week in and week out to prepare fast race cars, and I’m honored that he has invited me back to be part of his team again,” he said. “Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without all the great people at NAPA AUTO PARTS, NAPA Filters, NAPA Belts & Hoses, and Toyota.”

Gilliland captured the spotlight at Phoenix, going to Victory Lane in his first race in the K&N Pro Series West and winning at a track where his father won in 2005. The teenager from Sherrils Ford, North Carolina has quickly added to a driver resume that also includes being the youngest winner in the history of the ARCA racing series, capturing a victory just two days after his 15th birthday in May.

“It’s great to have Todd join the ranks of the K&N Pro Series West as part of the BMR team,” said McAnally. “I continue to be amazed by his accomplishments and want to help him fulfill his potential in this series.”

Gilliland will be competing full-time in a series where his family name is well known. His father won the rookie title in 2004; and his grandfather, Butch, won the 1997 series championship.

“I look forward to running a full season in the K&N (Pro) Series and being part of the BMR team,” Gilliland said. “I think it’s going to be a great learning experience. It will be good to have a championship driver like Chris Eggleston to lean on and learn from, especially early in the season.”

Gilliland has embraced his role as a third-generation competitor in the series, meanwhile.

“It’s a really cool experience,” he said. “Hopefully, I can carry on the family tradition.”

Herbst grew up watching his father and grandfather compete in off-road racing classics such as the Baja 500 and Baja 1000. After starting his racing career with go-karts at the age of 5, he progressed to trophy karts, Legends cars, speed trucks, and late models.

“Riley demonstrates a great passion for racing every time he gets behind the wheel,” McAnally said. “We anticipate great success from him as he graduates to the K&N Pro Series West. We’re glad to have him become a part of the BMR team.”

Herbst did double duty as a rookie at Irwindale (California) Speedway in 2015, winning the championship in the Irwindale Speed Trucks, and finishing fifth in the final standings in Irwindale’s late model division.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to drive for Bill McAnally Racing in 2016,” Herbst said. “I’m looking forward to a great season. Coming into the K&N Pro Series, I plan to learn as much as possible, with a goal of finishing every lap.

“The knowledge and experience of everyone at BMR will be a great benefit to me as I tackle the challenges of my rookie season in the series,” he said.

Gilliland and Herbst were among a group of talented young drivers who participated in the NAPA Filters Drivers Expo presented by Toyota that BMR conducted this past summer.

“I was impressed with the way they both conducted themselves on and off the track,” McAnally said. “Joining with Chris, they make for a trio of drivers who we are proud to have represent BMR and our corporate partners in 2016.”

BMR captured its sixth K&N Pro Series West championship this past year, which tied a record for the series and throughout NASCAR’s Regional Touring level. The team also celebrated its 25th anniversary with NAPA AUTO PARTS as a sponsor.

bmr_announcement_todd-gilliland_112515

Todd Gilliland became the youngest race winner in K&N Pro Series history with his victory at Phoenix International Raceway in November. NASCAR via Getty Images

Eggleston Will Return To Defend K&N Title

Eggleston Will Return To Defend K&N Title

Gilliland And Herbst Join BMR Roster For 2016

ROSEVILLE, Calif. – Bill McAnally Racing today announced that Chris Eggleston, Todd Gilliland and Riley Herbst will drive for the team in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series for 2016.

Plans call for all three drivers to run the full schedule in the K&N Pro Series West, with select events in the K&N Pro Series East worked into the schedule.

Eggleston returns for a second year after capturing the 2015 championship in the K&N Pro Series West in his first full season in the series.  Gilliland, the 15-year-old son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran driver David Gilliland, is coming off a win at Phoenix in his series debut – becoming the youngest winner in the series. Herbst, who comes from a racing family well known in off-road competition, is coming off an outstanding season where he won a championship as a rookie at Irwindale (California) Speedway. The 16-year-old will be making his debut in the K&N Pro Series West.

“We’re excited to announce this portion of our program for the K&N Pro Series in 2016,” said BMR President Bill McAnally. “It’s great to have Chris return to defend his title and to have such talented young drivers as Todd and Riley join the team. We have high expectations, based on what we have seen from all three of them.”

The team is focused on building on its performance from this past season, McAnally said.

“We finished the year strong, with Chris clinching the championship at Phoenix and Todd scoring the win in his series debut,” he said. “We plan to work hard in the off-season to carry that momentum forward into next season.”

Eggleston won his first race with BMR in 2014 and that led to him running the full season and capturing the title in 2015. The 26-year-old hails from Erie, Colorado and is a graduate of Colorado State University. He has accumulated three wins, 11 top-five, and 12 top-10 finishes in 17 career starts in the K&N Pro Series West.

“Chris took the opportunity he had in 2014 and responded with a win,” McAnally said. “And with the opportunity to run a full season in 2015, he responded with a championship. We’re looking forward to continued success with him.”

Eggleston honed his talent competing at his home track of Colorado National Speedway, a 3/8-mile short track just north of Denver. It was the site of his first career series win in 2014.

“I am very excited and fortunate to have the opportunity to join forces again with Bill McAnally Racing for the 2016 season,” Eggleston said. “I am really looking forward to building on the success that we had this year and have high hopes to defend our championship.

“Bill has a lot of great guys that work very hard week in and week out to prepare fast race cars, and I’m honored that he has invited me back to be part of his team again,” he said. “Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without all the great people at NAPA AUTO PARTS, NAPA Filters, NAPA Belts & Hoses, and Toyota.”

Gilliland captured the spotlight at Phoenix, going to Victory Lane in his first race in the K&N Pro Series West and winning at a track where his father won in 2005. The teenager from Sherrils Ford, North Carolina has quickly added to a driver resume that also includes being the youngest winner in the history of the ARCA racing series, capturing a victory just two days after his 15th birthday in May.

“It’s great to have Todd join the ranks of the K&N Pro Series West as part of the BMR team,” said McAnally. “I continue to be amazed by his accomplishments and want to help him fulfill his potential in this series.”

Gilliland will be competing full-time in a series where his family name is well known. His father won the rookie title in 2004; and his grandfather, Butch, won the 1997 series championship.

“I look forward to running a full season in the K&N (Pro) Series and being part of the BMR team,” Gilliland said. “I think it’s going to be a great learning experience. It will be good to have a championship driver like Chris Eggleston to lean on and learn from, especially early in the season.”

Gilliland has embraced his role as a third-generation competitor in the series, meanwhile.

“It’s a really cool experience,” he said. “Hopefully, I can carry on the family tradition.”

Herbst grew up watching his father and grandfather compete in off-road racing classics such as the Baja 500 and Baja 1000. After starting his racing career with go-karts at the age of 5, he progressed to trophy karts, Legends cars, speed trucks, and late models.

“Riley demonstrates a great passion for racing every time he gets behind the wheel,” McAnally said. “We anticipate great success from him as he graduates to the K&N Pro Series West. We’re glad to have him become a part of the BMR team.”

Herbst did double duty as a rookie at Irwindale (California) Speedway in 2015, winning the championship in the Irwindale Speed Trucks, and finishing fifth in the final standings in Irwindale’s late model division.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to drive for Bill McAnally Racing in 2016,” Herbst said. “I’m looking forward to a great season. Coming into the K&N Pro Series, I plan to learn as much as possible, with a goal of finishing every lap.

“The knowledge and experience of everyone at BMR will be a great benefit to me as I tackle the challenges of my rookie season in the series,” he said.

Gilliland and Herbst were among a group of talented young drivers who participated in the NAPA Filters Drivers Expo presented by Toyota that BMR conducted this past summer.

“I was impressed with the way they both conducted themselves on and off the track,” McAnally said. “Joining with Chris, they make for a trio of drivers who we are proud to have represent BMR and our corporate partners in 2016.”

BMR captured its sixth K&N Pro Series West championship this past year, which tied a record for the series and throughout NASCAR’s Regional Touring level. The team also celebrated its 25th anniversary with NAPA AUTO PARTS as a sponsor.

bmr_announcement_todd-gilliland_112515

Todd Gilliland became the youngest race winner in K&N Pro Series history with his victory at Phoenix International Raceway in November. NASCAR via Getty Images

Touring Most Popular Drivers Announced

Touring Most Popular Drivers Announced

Four Rookies & Two Repeat Winners Among 2015 Honorees

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After nearly 34,000 votes were cast around the world for NASCAR regional touring series’ 2015 Most Popular Driver Awards, seven drivers earned the ultimate honor from fans – including four rookie drivers and a pair of repeat winners.

The Most Popular Driver Award winners for 2015 are:
• Rico Abreu (St. Helena, Calif.), NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
• Nicole Behar (Spokane, Wash.), NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
• Jason Hathaway (St. Thomas, Ont.), NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1
• Rodrigo Marban (Mexico City), NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series
• Alon Day (Ashdod, Israel), NASCAR Whelen Euro Series
• Melissa Fifield (Wakefield, N.H.), NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
• Trey Hutchens (Lexington, N.C.), NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour

Underscoring the exciting young talent entering NASCAR’s ranks, award winners Abreu, Behar, Day and Hutchens are all in their first full season of NASCAR touring series competition, with Hutchens also earning the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.

Both Fifield and Marban won the Most Popular Driver Award for their series last year, with Fifield making history as the first female to win the award for the tour. 

Marban of the NASCAR Mexico Series garnered more votes than any other driver in 2015, just ahead of NASCAR Next drivers Behar and Abreu. Behar dethroned 2014 Most Popular Driver Brandon McReynolds, while Abreu earned the award in his first year in stock cars after transitioning from a successful open-wheel career.

The closest race was in the Canadian Tire Series where championship runner-up Hathaway edged Alex Tagliani by just 104 votes. It is the second year in a row in which Tagliani missed out on the top spot by a slim margin. Last year, he was beaten by JR Fitzpatrick by just 48 votes.

Similarly, Fifield beat Preece for the Whelen Modified Tour award by 110 votes. Hutchens collected more than 40 percent of the Whelen Southern Modified Tour vote to top tour champion Andy Seuss, a three-time winner of the award.

Day won three of the final four races of the Whelen Euro Series season to finish as runner-up in the championship standings in his first year in the series.

The Most Popular Driver Award winners will be recognized as part of the NASCAR Touring Series Awards on Dec. 12 in the Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The 2016 NWES Car Rocks The ROC

The 2016 NWES Car Rocks The ROC

Game Changing Euro NASCAR Car Impresses World-Class Drivers In Racing Debut

The new “Game Changing” NASCAR Whelen Euro Series car made its racing debut in London the context of the 2015 Race of Champions and it was a resounding success, with some of the best drivers in the world praising the 2016 Euro NASCAR car as one of the fastest and most entertaining to drive in the traditional end-of-season event.

Motorsport legends and top drivers such as Sebastian Vettel, Tom Kristensen and Petter Solberg competed for three days on the 565 meter-long ROC stadium track in wet and dry conditions. The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series cars delighting drivers and the thousands of fans that crowded the Olympic Stadium. All the drivers were impressed by the car’s handling and power and found the new 2016 body style spectacular and fascinating. Due to Friday’s rainy weather, the drivers could also discover how funny it is to drive the 400 hp European NASCAR car in wet conditions, thanks to it’s extremely communicative handling and the grip provided by the tires Michelin developed for the official NASCAR European Series.

Here’s what the Champions said about the new NASCAR Whelen Euro Series car: 

Tom Kristensen (9 times Le Mans 24h winner, 2013 FIA WEC Champion): “It is always a pleasure to drive the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series car at Race of Champions. It’s one of the cars I have always a lot of fun! It has a very good handling, there’s a lot of steering lock so you can basically put in the way you want. You have a good feedback from the brake, it’s very hard but I like that. I left-brake and you have to change first, second, third gear all the time, so it’s very busy in the cockpit, but it’s sticking well to the track thanks to the Michelin tires. So it’s a very competitive car on the track, one of the fastest on track. It was the same last year in Barbados and here too it is one of the fastest cars on the lap time.”

Petter Solberg (2003 World Rally Champion and 2014 World Rallycross Champion): “It is really good fun! I remember last year I also enjoyed it a lot and it’s good fun because it’s very progressive to drive and I’m sure many people can drive it much faster but the most important thing is to enjoy it when you drive it, and I did, very much!”

Ryan Hunter Reay (2012 IndyCar Champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner): “The NASCAR is my favourite car so far! Maybe it is because I have had a little bit of experience in a stock car before, but it was a lot of fun. It was one of the fastest when I was in it! It definitely has a lot of power, so you really have to balance between using all that torque and spinning the wheels. It’s tough. With the track conditions the way they are, you’re tiptoeing around and trying to control the raw horsepower, it’s a lot of fun!”

Andy Priaulx (2015 ROC Cup Nation Winner, 2004 ETCC Champion and 3 times WTCC Champion): “This car is amazing, the handling is fantastic. It’s probably my favorite car of the Race Of Champions! I love this car! That car’s meat! It’s big, it’s powerful and turns in really well so that was a really nice first race. I’m very happy to win because it’s our home race and I’m happy to go through.”

Pascal Wehrlein (2015 DTM Champion and AMG Mercedes F1 test driver): “It’s really nice! Last year I drove it for the first time the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series car in Barbados and I have to say it was a bit strange. The car was so big and if you come from single-seaters or DTM, you are used to a very responsive car and that’s a bit of the opposite. But now, in the stadium, it was completely different, maybe because it was wet. It was much more fun, you could play a lot with the car and you can drift a lot, but definitely it’s a huge car!”

The 2015 season of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will officially end on December 12 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame / Charlotte Convention Center with the NASCAR Night Of Champions Touring Awards, the ceremony that will reward 2015 Champions, Trophy winners and Cups winners at the end of a week of celebrations. 

Lanpher Doubles Up In Maine

Lanpher Doubles Up In Maine

Captures First Career Beech Ridge, State NASCAR Titles

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — In a sport where it is common for one team to help out another in need, Reid Lanpher went the extra mile in the finale at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.

In the closest race for a state championship in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series during the 2015 season, Lanpher entered the finale at the Scarborough, Maine, oval with a 10-point lead on Garrett Hall. The challenger wrecked his car in practice, but in an act of exceptional sportsmanship, Lanpher offered his backup car to Hall to be able to compete in that night’s feature.

“Garrett is a great competitor. He always runs me clean and he was a very talented driver as a rookie this year,” said Lanpher, a 17-year-old racer from Manchester, Maine.

“As soon as he wrecked we went right down and offered it to him. We were more than happy to do it.”

As it turned out, Lanpher’s generosity nearly cost him the crown.

“We were eight positions apart at the end of the race, so nobody really knew (who won the state title),” Lanpher said. “Come Monday morning we were calling NASCAR to figure out who the champion was. It was pretty cool how close it was.”

In fact, it couldn’t have been any closer. Lanpher and Hall ended up tied in NASCAR state points at 378. NASCAR U.S. state and Canadian province championships are determined by the best 18 finishes at tracks within the respective state or province. Lanpher was awarded the Maine championship on a tiebreaker by virtue of his four wins on the season to zero for Hall.

The good karma didn’t hurt either.

In addition to his first career state championship, Lanpher also outdistanced Hall for Beech Ridge’s Division I title by final score of 763-737. A high school senior, Lanpher posted seven top fives and 12 top 10s in 15 starts in addition to his four checkered flags.

2015 STATE/PROVINCE CHAMPIONS  |  2015 TRACK CHAMPIONS

It was a midseason streak of success that positioned Lanpher for the titles. His first win didn’t come until the ninth feature of the season on July 25, but it began a run of victories in four of six races during the second half behind the wheel of his No. 59 Mission Trailers/Team EJP Racing Chevrolet.

Lanpher took some satisfaction in his accomplishments due to the level of competition that is featured weekly at the .333-mile asphalt oval. In 2015 Lanpher was one of eight different winners in the track’s headlining pro series late model division.

“Beech Ridge is probably one of the toughest weekly divisions out there,” Lanpher said. “It’s crazy how competitive it is. There so little separation. The handicap system definitely also makes it a challenge every week.”

Lanpher’s achievements have not been limited to the racetrack either. He was a member of the Maranacook High School boys soccer team that captured two state titles and recorded a 50-game winning streak. He is a member of National Honor Society and is simultaneously working to complete an associate’s degree at Thomas College in addition to his high school diploma. Lanpher intends to continue his higher education upon graduation next spring.

As for racing in 2016, the plan is still coming together. He is leaning towards returning to defend the Beech Ridge championship and hopes to branch out even more than he did this past season for some of the bigger late model and touring series events.

The support for Lanpher’s 2015 titles came from Scott’s Recreation and Docks.com in addition to his primary sponsors Mission Trailers and Team EJP Racing. Jason Ricker was the team’s crew chief while Lanpher’s father, Scott, was his spotter. The rest of the support staff and crew members included Lanpher’s mother Holly, sister Emily, girlfriend Alexa Perkins, Tommy Ricker, Erin Collomy, Jason Collomy, Larry Collomy, Wayne Ladd, Mike DiBaise and John Jacques.

Lanpher will now be honored for his Beech Ridge and Maine crowns along with other track and state/province champions from across North America as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 11 at the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Beech Ridge held its own 2015 Awards Banquet on Nov. 14 and recognized Lanpher’s accomplishments as well as that of its other four Whelen All-American Series weekly divisions.

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 participated in 2015.

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 are among the many showcases for Whelen products.

Lanpher (No.59) recorded four wins in the pro series division at Beech Ridge in 2015. Jamie Williams/Finish Line Photography

Mission Accomplished For Anthony Kumpen

Mission Accomplished For Anthony Kumpen

Closes His Season With Another Strong Result In NASCAR XFINITY Series

Anthony Kumpen completed another stage of the Nexteer Road To Daytona – the path designed by NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and Nexteer Automotive to bring European drivers to race at NASCAR’s top-level in the US – by finishing 27th on Saturday in his 1.5-mile oval debut in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 

The 2014 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Champion successfully tackled the challenge of the ultra-competitive NASCAR XFINITY Series finale, improving throughout the weekend and putting up another consistent performance on a track averaging nearly 270 Km/h per lap. Kumpen posted the 25th fastest lap in practice, qualified 30th and climbed his way up to 27th in the Ford Ecoboost 300 at the wheel of the #55 Nexteer Chevrolet Camaro.

“It was maybe the toughest race in my NASCAR career because with so much traffic at such a high speed your car’s aerodynamics keep changing and you have to adapt quickly, but we worked well and everybody did a fantastic job. We had a great car, great support and a smart strategy. I learned a lot and I’m really happy with what we achieved,” said Kumpen.

“Anthony did an outstanding job once again! Since we built this US program for him, he did not make one single mistake, finishing every race. It was a huge challenge to come and compete on very fast oval tracks against the best American drivers!” said Jerome Galpin, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series President / CEO. “He wasn’t great just in the car, but also outside the car, always available for media and fans. I’m really proud of him and of all our NWES drivers. We will build on this extremely successful season to keep creating opportunities and opening doors for them!”

Preparation is already in progress for the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway, but Kumpen is also focusing on his quest for another NASCAR Whelen Euro Series title.

“We took all the necessary steps, we finished every race and we finished in the top-30. That’s exactly what we wanted to achieve and now we are already working on Daytona and on the 2016 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season,” said the Hasselt-native. “I absolutely want to get the Championship back. The new car is amazing and I can’t wait to drive it, to fight again for the title and be back in the US for more races.”

“I want to thank NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Nexteer Automotive and all the people involved with the Series and the Nexteer Road To Daytona program for giving me this incredible opportunity. I believe this is the best way for a European driver to go racing in the US and I hope many other drivers in Europe will take this chance,” he concluded.

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will now head to Charlotte to honour 2015 European NASCAR Champion Ander Vilarino, ELITE 2 Division Champion Gianmarco Ercoli and all the trophies and cup winners in a week of celebrations that will culminate with the December 12 NASCAR Night Of Champions Touring Series Awards. 

Print This Post Print This Post