NASCAR Driver Limits Won’t Boost Xfinity Series

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Now, in what cynics tag the “Kyle Busch Ban”, NASCAR has announced caps for Cup drivers participating in the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series events.

NASCAR is struggling with brand identity for both the Xfinity and Truck Series, so the sanctioning body is taking a deeper dive into unchartered waters with further rule changes for 2017.

At the start of the current season, NASCAR extended the Chase playoff system down to both the Xfinity and Truck developmental circuits to intensify drama and hopefully get fans to pay attention to the upstart talent in each race series.

Now, in what cynics tag the “Kyle Busch Ban”, NASCAR has announced caps for Cup drivers participating in the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series events.

Beginning in 2017, Sprint Cup drivers with more than five years’ experience will be limited to ten Xfinity and seven Truck races. Furthermore, those Cup drivers also will be ineligible to compete in the final eight races in each series, including the Chase playoffs.

The Xfinity Series motto drives home the narrative that “Names Are Made Here”, intending to showcase popular, up-and-coming racers that will bond with the next generation of fans.

However, NASCAR TV ratings are still slumping, and a viewer only needs to tune in to a race to see that fans are not exactly beating down the turnstiles to attend these support events, even with the today’s cut-rate ticket prices.

Certainly, these driver restrictions address fears that Sprint Cup drivers have been dominating the races in the “lower” series. Cup Series regulars have won nearly 75% of the Xfinity races since 2011, including 21 of the 26 regular-season races this year, which surely creates a predictable futility and overshadows the emerging stars of the future.

At the start of the current season, NASCAR extended the Chase playoff system down to both the Xfinity and Truck developmental circuits to intensify drama and hopefully get fans to pay attention to the upstart talent in each race series.

At the start of the current season, NASCAR extended the Chase playoff system down to both the Xfinity and Truck developmental circuits to intensify drama and hopefully get fans to pay attention to the upstart talent in each race series.

But the real problem is the product on the track is lackluster and mind-numbing, with races where a small cadre of Cup drivers runs away from the pack. Exhibit A is Kyle Busch, last year’s Sprint Cup Champion, who has already dropped down to win 9 of 16 Xfinity series races in 2016, extending his win total to 85 victories over his entire Xfinity career. With Busch crushing his competitors and often lapping 75% of the field, the anticipated storyline is known before the wave of the green flag.

Per Jim Cassidy, NASCAR SVP of Racing Operations, the new rule is designed to aid the up-and-coming driver talent, and not target any one competitor or team.

“Certainly, we’re not going to focus on any one participant and make a rule based upon that,” Cassidy said. “What our approach is in this case is making sure that the brands of these drivers have a chance if they are successful on-track, that people understand who these drivers are and that they continue to have a chance to build their brands. The goal is to strengthen the entire sport.”

Then again, capping experienced Cup drivers does nothing to solve the monetary predicament that these developmental series are now dominated by a few mega Cup-owners with large racing budgets. So far in 2016, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) has captured the checkered flag in 17 of the 30 Xfinity races among its stable of four cars.

I remain skeptical that these new guidelines will have much impact. A Cup Series regular may still participate in up to ten Xfinity races, and the powerhouse teams such as JGR can cycle through its fleet of Cup racers to uphold their dominance. When you have a dominant team with an annual racing budget that is 10X the size of its smaller competitors, the restrictions on drivers is not going to change much.

Additionally, the wave of successive rule modifications may result in fan confusion as well as unintended consequences, such as sponsors stepping away from these series entirely.

Ideally, instead of relying on the five-year experience threshold, NASCAR could have made a major statement. With the new Chase elimination playoff, the Xfinity and Truck championships should be exclusive to drivers who have declared their eligibility to earn points and compete for a championship in that series at the start of the year.

Regrettably, NASCAR’s hands are bound, as many sponsor budgets are already set for 2017, so it would be unrealistic to completely ban or overly restrict Sprint Cup driver participation. So, instead of Kyle Busch, we can look forward to a rotating parade of Cup stars with less than 5 years of experience, such as Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney, dropping down to steal the thunder from the Xfinity Championship contenders.

By Ron Bottano. Let’s connect on Twitter @rbottano.

 

 

 

 

Hockenheim Joins The 2017 NWES Calendar!

Hockenheim Joins The 2017 NWES Calendar!

Hockenheimring will host the first dedicated NASCAR Event in Germany!

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will race in Germany in early July 2017 with a spectacular American-themed event at the world-famous Hockenheimring. EuroNASCAR and the German track signed an agreement on a multi-year base to bring to German fans a unique “Made In The USA” weekend.

“We are very proud of this agreement and can’t wait to see our Euro NASCAR cars race at Hockenheimring! With Mr. Seiler, CEO of Hockenheimring, and Mr Bensemann, president of BMC Hockenheim, we have the same vision: to offer German fans a great American show and a complete fan experience, on and around the track,” said Jerome Galpin, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series President /CEO. “Knowing the passion and enthusiasm German fans have, the NASCAR Hockenheim event will have everything to develop into one of the biggest racing event of the year.”

The event will be the perfect occasion for European fans and Americans living in Europe to celebrate in perfect American style Independence Day and the birth of the United States.

“After having almost every class of motorsport in Hockenheim during the last 85 years we can now say we are proud that NASCAR Europe will fill one of the last empty spots,” said Georg Seiler, the CEO of Hockenheimring.

Located in the south-west of Germany between Frankfurt and Stuttgart, the Hockenheimring was originally built in 1932 using public roads. Through its legendary history, the track hosted all major motorsports events from Formula 1 to MotoGP and ranks among the most prestigious racing venues in Europe. It features state-of-the-art facilities and one of the most spectacular views for fans in motorsports thanks to its famous “Motodrom” section.

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will race on the the 15-turn, 3.692 km layout, ensuring close competition on track and a great show for the fans.

The full 2017 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series schedule will be unveiled in the upcoming weeks before NWES Champions and Trophy winners head to Charlotte for the Dec 10 NASCAR Night Of Champions Touring Series Awards at the NASCAR Hall Of Fame.

Sellers Remembered For His Colorful Career

Sellers Remembered For His Colorful Career

West Series Veteran Passes Away At 72

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Through 32 seasons competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Jack Sellers never visited Victory Lane. In fact, he never had a top-five finish. But that didn’t deter him from having fun and being a big part of the West Coast series.

Sellers – who finished 14th in his last series start at his home track of All American Speedway on Oct. 15 – passed away at his Sacramento, California ranch over the weekend at the age of 72.

A familiar sight in the K&N West garage with his trademark cowboy hat, Sellers was best known to his close friends for his life-long passion for hunting. He developed a similar enthusiasm for stock car racing, however. Maybe it was because he got a late start in racing, at the age of 40; but he never gave it up. Many of his competitors decided to pursue other interests as the years went along. Not Sellers. It seemed like he was just having too much fun.

He talked of his longevity in the series during an interview in 2011.

“I never would have dreamed that I would go this far,” Sellers said with his familiar chuckle. “When you’ve been doing it so long, it’s not something that you can just quit.”

In his 32 seasons in the series, he had become a friend to many in the racing community. He would take the time to get to know others and sincerely cared about those friendships. Not one to ever get in a hurry, he enjoyed spending time talking with others in the garage – even if it meant being late to a drivers meeting.

Those who got to know Sellers were also familiar with his sense of humor. He enjoyed a good laugh and liked to share that with those around him. He would often have a sly grin and twinkle in his eyes as he would pause to wait for someone to pick up on a bit of his humor.

The series was known as the NASCAR Winston West Grand National Division when Sellers made his debut at Sonoma, California on April 28, 1985. He entered more than 300 events and is listed as competing in a record 282 series races. There were good times, with 32 top-10 finishes. And, of course, there were the bad times – failing to finish a race due to a blown engine or an accident. But Sellers didn’t quit.

In more than three decades on the circuit, he had a career-best seventh-place finish on five occasions, with the most recent at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington in August of 2013.

Sellers wasn’t in the racing just for himself, however. He would assist anyone in need of help.

Sellers was known through much of his career for operating a multi-car team. That expanded race team stemmed from a need to bolster the car count at some series events through the years. With crew members, who in addition to turning a wrench were talented behind the wheel, Sellers didn’t hesitate to start fielding backup cars for them and others to drive. He took pride in his role and for helping to keep the series alive during those lean years.

Sellers, whose family once owned the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Sacramento, continued to help others in recent years as he began to look at cutting back on his racing. He entered multiple cars in events as he provided an opportunity for several young northern California drivers to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. 

His contributions to the series were recognized in 2005, when Sellers was awarded the Sportsmanship Award at the year-end awards banquet.

Although he was having fun, Sellers was serious about his racing. He finished in the top 10 of the championship standings in seven of eight seasons between 1987 and 1994, with his best year being 1993 when he was fifth in points. In other years, Sellers opted not to compete in all the races. His last full season of competition was 2014, in which he finished ninth in the championship standings.

In addition to his passion for hunting and racing, Sellers also had a love for animals. For many years he would donate his winnings from a race to an animal rescue organization.

Huge Public Success For The NWES Finals At Zolder

Huge Public Success For The NWES Finals At Zolder

Action, Fun And Great Crowd Highlighted The Last Round Of The 2016 Season

The October 8-9 final event of the 2016 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season at Circuit Zolder left an indelible mark in EuroNASCAR’s history with a huge success, the result of a unique mix of exciting door-to-door action on track, a one-of-a-kind Grand Marshal in NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon and spectacular american-themed trackside attractions.

NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon joined thousands of fans on the grid before the start of the final ELITE 1 race of the season and not only gave the command to start the engines to the NWES drivers, but also presented Anthony Kumpen (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) with the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Trophy in Victory Lane after the race, celebrating the Belgian’s second title in three years and contributing once again as NASCAR ambassador to the growth of the sport all over the World.

“It was great to be a part of the season finale of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at Zolder, and I was impressed with the popularity of the series,” said Gordon. “I like that NASCAR has a presence in Europe and I look forward to seeing the sport grow there.”

“These great Finals perfectly ended the best season in NWES history. Since created in 2009, the series never stopped growing and became one of the most popular in Europe. How many series can attract over 25 000 fans per event ? Thanks to long term partnerships and great support from NASCAR, our sponsors and our track partners, NWES will continue to develop and I can’t see any limit. 2017 is already on the way and promise to be even better ! ” said NWES President / CEO Jerome Galpin.

A huge crowd of over 20.000 fans filled the grandstands, the paddock and the grid of the historic Belgian track and cheered hometown hero Anthony Kumpen (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) as the Hasselt-native brought home his second NWES title and performed a huge burn-out on the start-finish line to celebrate in perfect NASCAR style. Kumpen won the Saturday Race and a seventh place in the Sunday Race secured his Championship by 11 points on Frederic Gabillon (#3 Tepac RDV Compétition Ford Mustang) who went on to win his fourth race of the season, becoming the first driver in NWES history to never finish outside the top-5 in a full season but coming up just short once again in the title hunt.

“It was the most special racing weekend in my entire life. Winning in front of my crowd, on my own track, with Jeff Gordon there to support NWES is something unique and unforgettable,” said Kumpen, who will be rewarded at the NASCAR Night Of Champions Touring Series Awards on December 10 at the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. “All the friends and the sponsors that came to Zolder were really impressed by the huge crowd and the amount of activities and attractions available around the track for racing enthusiasts, families and kids. Zolder was one of the crown jewels of this incredible season.” 

The PK Carsport team completed a spectacular sweep by monopolizing the ELITE 2 Division at Zolder. Gabriele Gardel (#24 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) won the Saturday race to secure the Teams Championship for the #24 Chevrolet SS and jump back in title contention as Stienes Longin (#11 PK Carsport Chevrolet SS) hit trouble before the start, but on Sunday in was Longin who delivered yet another dominant performance to win his 8th race of the season – a new record across the two NWES Divisions – and clinched the ELITE 2 title by the widest margin in NWES history.

In the wake of the huge success obtained by the second edition of the American Festival Circuit Zolder NASCAR Finals, the contract between NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and Circuit Zolder has been extended until 2021, granting the Belgian fans at least five more years of amazing racing and entertainment. 

The date of the next edition of the Circuit Zolder Finals will be revealed in the upcoming weeks, together with the rest of the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series calendar. 

PEAK Becomes New Title Sponsor In Mexico

PEAK Becomes New Title Sponsor In Mexico

Returns In 2017 With Full Championship Schedule

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — During an event with team owners, drivers, local dignitaries and media at the InterContinental Presidente Hotel in Mexico City, NASCAR today announced plans to strengthen its presence in Mexico for years to come with a full slate of races in 2017 and beyond. Also announced was a multi-year agreement with Old World Industries (OWI) to make PEAK® title sponsor of the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series, only the third title sponsor in series history. Additionally, PEAK becomes an Official NASCAR Partner along with other key brands such as BlueDEF.

“The NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series is a place where young drivers are honing their skills and competing for a championship against the toughest competition in Latin America,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Officer. “The series drives interest in stock car racing in Mexico, while cultivating talented drivers and pit crew members who aspire to compete at the NASCAR national series level.”

The NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series will make its return with an exhibition race on December 3-4 in Mexico City. Celebrating its 10th season, the series will officially get underway in 2017, with a full championship schedule that will be announced at a later date. 

NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series has helped develop some of NASCAR’s best young drivers, including Daniel Suárez, who is the first Mexican-born driver to capture Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors; win a NASCAR national series race; lead a national series in points; and compete in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase for a championship – which he is currently pursuing. Furthermore, the continued development of young Mexican drivers, like reigning NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series Champion Ruben Garcia Jr., exemplifies the wealth of talent competing throughout the series.

“I am extremely proud to be a Mexican driver competing against the best young drivers making a name for themselves in the NASCAR XFINITY Series,” said Daniel Suarez, driver of the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. “I am lucky to have had the support of NASCAR’s developmental programs along the way – including the NASCAR Mexico Series. I am excited to see that other talented Latin American drivers will continue to have similar opportunities for many years to come.” 

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to develop young talent and engage our passionate fan base in Mexico,” said Lou Garate, Vice President, Partnership Marketing, NASCAR. “PEAK is a world-class brand and its three decades of experience in motorsports will help elevate NASCAR-sanctioned racing in Mexico.”

Old World Industries brands and products have a storied history in motorsports. PEAK held race entitlements in NASCAR – throughout the 1990s and 2000s. In 2016, OWI sponsored Clint Bowyer’s No. 15, including two primary races and a season-long associate sponsorship. PEAK is also the title sponsor of NASCAR’s eSports partner, iRacing.com, which has helped produce current NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series points leader, William Byron.  

“Old World Industries products have been a recognized part of the racing industry for decades, and we’re proud to help bring NASCAR to the passionate fans in Mexico and the U.S. for years to come,” said Bryan Emrich, Chief Marketing Officer at Old World Industries. “Whether in the garage or on the track, we’ll continue to deliver quality products that auto enthusiasts can count on.”  

As an Official NASCAR Partner, race fans will see the NASCAR bar mark on select products including: PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant (Official Antifreeze/Coolant of NASCAR), PEAK Windshield Wipers (Official Wiper Blade of NASCAR), BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid and Equipment (Official Diesel Exhaust Fluid of NASCAR® and Official Diesel Exhaust Fluid Equipment of NASCAR) and Herculiner Truck & Bed Liners (Official Roll-On and Spray-On Bed Liner of NASCAR). For more information on OWI products and the company’s involvement in motorsports, please visit www.PeakAuto.com. 

2016 NWAAS Track Champions

Looney Holds On For Martinsville Win

Looney Holds On For Martinsville Win

Outruns Pulliam To Take Late Model Showcase

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Mike Looney withstood a furious charge from Lee Pulliam over the final 10 laps but emerged victorious on Sunday in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway.

With nine laps to go, Pulliam actually got under Looney and climbed up his door panel when they came together off the exit of Turn 4. Looney escaped with the top spot but with visible damage across his quarter panel. Meanwhile, Pulliam was also able to keep going and they maintained the top two positions. 

Looney never looked back and won by half a second over the two-time former Martinsville champion. 

“I’m just a nobody from nowhere,” Looney said referencing his hometown of New Castle, Virginia. “We started the season in an open trailer and now we’re in Victory Lane at Martinsville. I can’t believe it.”

Looney and Pulliam have raced against each other primarily at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia, this season and have become close friends. The two joked that they would eventually bounce off each other on Sunday night but Pulliam never really thought it would play out with his Late Model pointed towards the sky on his friends’ door panel.

“All I could see was that it was a beautiful clear night,” Pulliam said. “I could see a lot of sky. I just let off the gas until I landed because I was afraid I was going to hit him in his head. I hit the race track and they told me to gas it because Kris was closing in.

“I didn’t even know if it would even turn getting into Turn 1 or what. It’s unreal. We battled a lot of adversity today and we still finished second.”

Looney called Pulliam “the most talented race car driver I’ve ever faced” and had no qualms with how his pal raced against him with 10 laps to go. In fact, he even accepted part of the blame, grateful that they were able to still finish first and second. 

“I was running for my life and running scared,” Looney said. “I bobbled a little bit getting into Turn 3. I left just a little hole and of course, I slammed it shut. We got togther and somehow I kept it straight and had air in all four tires. I’m just happy no one got hurt or torn us worse than we did.”

It’s worth noting that Pulliam was the first to greet Looney and congratulate him upon climbing out of his car.

“He’s one of my closest friends,” Pulliam said. “We joked all weel we that we were going to bounce off each other tonight but I didn’t mean it to go down that way. I’m just glad that neither of us wrecked. I’m just pleased to have finshed second.”

Kres Van Dyke, CE Falk and Austin Thaxton completed the top five.

Pulliam dominated much of the first half but not without worry as the three-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion had developed a transmission issue and was unable to shift into third gear. And yet, he was leading at halfway and was credited with the $2,000 Clerence’s Steakhouse Award.

Capturing that also cost him the lead as NASCAR inverted the top six positions following the intermission. 

The scoring tower announced the invert on Lap 60 in order to allow drivers time to decide whether to fight for the halfway bonus or position themselves ahead of the inversion. Looney spent much of the first half just a few tenths behind Pulliam but began dropping positions over the final 10 laps in order to play the invert. He fell back to fourth by Lap 100 and restarted third as a result.

JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry led early in the second half after restarting second but quickly saw his chances evaporate when Philip Morris doored him into the marbles on Lap 127 and spun around in Turn 3. Stripped of his track position, Berry was then caught up in a second crash just a few laps later when he collided with Brad Kurth. 

“It was just the worst case scenario for us,” Berry said. “We went from racing for the lead with Philip and he just beat me into the corner. Then we got stuck in the back and that’s what happens when you get stuck back there. It’s just how it goes sometimes.” 

The first half was marred by several multi-car crashes but none larger than the one that occurred at Turn 1 on the opening lap of the event. It began when Tyler Matthews and Bradley McCaskill collided in the corners and collected Mike Darne and Justin Carroll. Several other cars scraped by with only minor damage.

ValleyStar Credit Union 300 Finish

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Mike Looney takes the checkered flag to win the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway Sunday. Chris Owens/Special To NASCARHomeTracks.com

Coby Marches To Fourth Championship

Coby Marches To Fourth Championship

3rd Straight Whelen Mod Crown; Bonsignore Wins At Thompson

THOMPSON, Conn. — It took 10 seasons, bouncing between full and part-time rides, for Doug Coby to get his second career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory.

Since then, though, the Milford, Connecticut, driver has compiled a resume that puts him among the elite Modified drivers of all-time.

Coby drove his No. 2 Dunleavy Repair/A&J Romano Construction Chevrolet to a sixth-place finish in Sunday’s Sunoco World Series 150 presented by XtraMart at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park to cap off his fourth career championship. He finished 12 points ahead of race winner Justin Bonsignore to claim the trophy.

In the process, Coby joined NASCAR Hall of Famers Jerry Cook and Richie Evans, as well as NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Mike Stefanik and Tony Hirschman Jr., as the only drivers in NASCAR Modified 69-year history to win four or more championships.

He also became the first driver in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour era, which began in 1985, to win three straight titles. All three have come since he teamed up with car owner Mike Smeriglio III. Over the last six seasons, he’s collected 21 wins. In the two years he didn’t win the championship, he was fifth in 2011 and second in 2013.

Coby won five times this season, to move to seventh all-time on the tour’s win list. He entered the finale with a 20-point cushion on Bonsignore and needed to only finish 17th or better to wrap up the title.

Bonsignore qualified seventh and drove his No. 3 Phoenix Communications Inc. Chevrolet to the lead past Coors Light Pole Award winner Timmy Solomito with 21 laps remaining. But Coby, who started second and had drifted as far back as 14th, picked off enough positions in the closing laps to secure the crown.

Sunday was Bonsignore’s fourth win of the season.

Former tour champion and current NASCAR XFINITY Series regular Ryan Preece finished second at Thompson, followed by Jimmy Blewett, Donny Lia and Solomito.

After Coby, Woody Pitkat, Eric Goodale, Matt Swanson and Dave Sapienze rounded out the top 10. Swanson began the weekend having already clinched Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors.

The Sunoco World Series 150 presented by XtraMart will air on NBCSN on Friday, Oct. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.

Coby, Bonsignore, Swanson and other top performers from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be honored on Saturday, Dec. 10 in Charlotte for the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards celebration. The event will be held at the NASCAR Hall of Fame at the Charlotte Convention Center for the seventh consecutive year.

RESULTS | RACE CENTRAL LIVE REPLAY

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Justin Bonsignore collected his fourth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season on Sunday in the Sunoco World Series 150 presented by XtraMart at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Fran Lawlor/NASCAR

Gilliland Wraps Up Historic Season

Gilliland Wraps Up Historic Season

Becomes Youngest NASCAR Champ; Partridge Wins K&N West Finale

ROSEVILLE, Calif. – Todd Gilliland started the season with a historic winning streak. Wrapping it up Saturday night, an eighth-place finish was more than enough for the teenager to add to the record books.

The 16-year-old from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, clinched the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship with his 13th top 10 in 14 races. Ryan Partridge outlasted defending series champion Chris Eggleston and NASCAR Next driver Julia Landauer in a green-white-checkered finish to the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by TriCo Welding Supplies at All American Speedway.

Partridge’s third win of the season in the No. 9 Sunrise Ford/Eibach Springs/Lucas Oil Ford wasn’t enough to catch Gilliland, who won the crown by 13 points over the veteran driver from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

In the process, Gilliland became the youngest champion in the history of the NASCAR national or touring series at 16 years, 5 months. 

Gilliland breaks the record set last month when Cayden Lapcevich won the NASCAR Pinty’s Series championship in Canada at 16 years, 10 months, 16 days. They both eclipsed the previous mark by 2015 Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano (Logano was 17 years, 3 months, 28 days when he won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title in 2007).

It was just the latest NASCAR historic mark Gilliland matched or eclipsed in his first full season.

Gilliland’s six victories matched the win total posted by Greg Pursley (2011), Brendan Gaughan (2001) and Doug George (1995) as the most in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West since Jimmy Insolo won nine in 1978.

Gilliland joins Scott Lynch (2003) and Lance Hooper (1996) as the only drivers to win both the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title and the championship in the same year.

The NASCAR Next driver’s championship title also marks the second consecutive title for owner, Bill McAnally. It’s also Bill McAnally Racing’s seventh NASCAR K&N Pro West championship, as Gilliland joined Eric Holmes (2 titles), Brendan Gaughan (2), Sean Woodside (1) and Eggleston (1) as NASCAR K&N Pro West champions for BMR.

Gilliland lost the championship points lead to Partridge halfway through the season after being caught up in a first-lap wreck at Sonoma Raceway and finishing 24th. But he reeled off three straight wins to take the top spot back and he never relinquished it down the stretch.

Partridge was fastest in both practices Saturday morning at All American, and started on the front row after rain washed out qualifying. He dominated the evening’s race, which was delayed several hours because of the weather.

Noah Gragson finished fourth and Nicole Behar fifth.

Cole Rouse, Cole Moore, Gilliland, Blaine Perkins and Dan Phillippi completed the top 10.

Gilliland opened the season with a win at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. His seven total wins surpasses the mark set by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano (2007) and Dylan Kwasniewski (2014) of six NASCAR K&N Pro Series wins in a season since the East and West went to a unified rulebook in 2003. Gilliland started his winning ways in the 2015 K&N Pro Series West finale at Phoenix International Raceway, and in winning his first four career NASCAR K&N Pro Series starts, he matched the record set by International Motorsports Hall of Famer Dan Gurney. Gurney won the first four NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model Series races he entered. The Pacific Coast Late Model, which began in 1954, has evolved into the current NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.

And Gilliland joined his grandfather as a NASCAR champion. Butch Gilliland won the 1997 West crown, while Todd’s father David had his best series points finish of third in 2009.

Gilliland, Partridge and other top performers from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will be honored on Saturday, Dec. 10 in Charlotte for the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards celebration. The event will be held at the NASCAR Hall of Fame at the Charlotte Convention Center for the seventh consecutive year.

RESULTS | RACE CENTRAL LIVE REPLAY

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Ryan Partridge celebrated in Victory Lane following his third win of the season at All American Speedway in Roseville, California, on Saturday night. Jonathan Moore/NASCAR via Getty Images

Looney Locks In Martinsville Pole

Looney Locks In Martinsville Pole

Joined By Pulliam On Front Row For Late Model Showcase

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The front row for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 has been set with Mike Looney and Lee Pulliam earning the right to lead the field to green on Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

The duo bested a field of 71 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock teams and have become the only drivers officially guaranteed a spot in the 42-car starting field. The other 69 competitors will have to advance through a series of 25-lap heat races on Sunday just to make the 200-lap main event. 

Beyond the $1,000 Sunoco/Sparks Oil pole award payout, qualifying doesn’t count as a victory but Looney and his Billy Martin Racing team celebrated regardless. 

“I can’t believe this is real,” Looney said. “This is a huge deal for a team of our size and our budget to beat a field of this size and this quality. Qualifying is one thing and racing is another but man I can’t put it into words what this means. I really can’t describe what this means.”

The pole earns Looney and Pulliam security for the first 175 laps as they gets to bypass the heats and save their tires 25 laps of racing before the Lap 175 competition caution. Looney believes that will allow him to set the pace and manage his race better than the rest of the field.

“If you can beat these guys on Saturday, it’s an unbelievable feeling because they’re all fast,” Looney said. “But beyond that, we don’t have to run the heat race and are going to save 25 laps on our tires. That doesn’t hurt. I say we need to just survive the first 175, put on four tires at tbe break and see how it plays out.” 

After making several wholesale changes on his Kiker Motorsports No. 5, Pulliam was pleased with a runner-up qualifying effort and shared Looney’s sense of relief. 

“We made some pretty big changes there before qualifying,” Pulliam said. “That seemed to help the car. I know where we can be better. Hopefully we can get this thing just a tick better. So I’m happy about it. That’s a big deal. We’re in the show and on the front row. I couldn’t be more tickled.”

The biggest surprise in qualifying was 17-year-old Ryan Repko, whom posted the third-fastest time despite this being his first trip to NASCAR’s oldest track. 

“It’s huge being close to the top of the board with all these big names here,” Repko said.

He ran within a split second of some of the biggest names in the discipline thanks to video games and social media.

“I ran iRacing to try to get as much experience as I could,” Repko said. “I also watched a lot of YouTube videos.”

The race is NASCAR’s richest and most prestigious Late Model Stock Car event. The winner will take home $25,000 and the iconic grandfather clock trophy. The event begins at Noon ET with three 25-lap heat races and a 25-lap last chance race.

Each of these heats — including the last chance race — will take 10 cars to make up the 42-car starting lineup.

The complete qualifying results can be found below.

1    87    Mike Looney    20.323
2    5    Lee Pulliam    20.342
3    14    Ryan Repko    20.354
4    04    CE Faulk    20.383
5    08    Deac McCaskill    20.390
6    17A    Stacey Puryear    20.392
7    83    Matt Bowling    20.421
8    27    Tommy Lemons Jr    20.428
9    88    Josh Berry    20.435
10    02    Brandon Butler    20.448
11    33    Macy Causey    20.456
12    01    Phillip Morris    20.460
13    12    Nick Smith    20.463
14    26A    Danny Edwards    20.464
15    22    Trevor Noles    20.478
16    17    Ryan Millington    20.487
17    12B    Bobby McCarty    20.501
18    15    Kres Van Dyke    20.502
19    2A    Myatt Snider    20.507
20    97    Greg Edwards    20.518
21    1A    Christian Eckes    20.524
22    63    Tyler Matthew    20.532
23    4C    Annabeth   Barnes-Crum    20.534
24    4    Dylan Hall    20.536
25    57    Justin Carroll    20.541
26    03    Brenden Queen    20.546
27    24    Mason Diaz    20.546
28    50    Ross Dalton    20.552
29    73    Bruce Anderson    20.554
30    98    Stephan Parsons    20.555
31    4A    Kyle Dudley    20.558
32    16    RD Smith    20.561
33    54    Michael Fose    20.568
34    20    Sam Yarbrough    20.574
35    21A    Travis Swaim    20.581
36    99    Layne Riggs    20.590
37    50A    Garrett Bunch    20.599
38    2    Brendan Pierce    20.602
39    51    Chris Chapman    20.608
40    01A    GR Waldrop    20.616
41    98A    BJ Mackey    20.617
42    21    Mike Darne    20.622
43    12C    Ryan Wilson    20.623
44    12A    Austin Thaxton    20.634
45    81B    Patrick Coleman    20.636
46    5A    Tyler English    20.642
47    18    Bradley   McCaskill    20.669
48    41    Haley Moody    20.686
49    18A    Jason York    20.693
50    21B    Jimmy Wallace    20.715
51    1    Jamie Sweeny    20.728
52    55    Mark Wertz    20.729
53    90    Terry Carroll    20.747
54    51A    Kyle Plott    20.751
55    42    Mason Diaz    20.752
56    9    Brad Kurth    20.768
57    57A    Jimmy Mullins    20.790
58    8    Thomas Scott    20.791
59    19    Cameron Bowen    20.795
60    7    Dylan Ward    20.806
61    29    Brandon Baker    20.819
62    81A    Zack Clifton    20.828
63    81    Justin Johnson    20.873
64    38    Mark Kessee Jr    20.888
65    25    Derrick   Lancaster    20.901
66    26    Peyton Sellers    20.919
67    77    Trevor Ward    20.929
68    10    Keith Parker    20.931
69    4B    John Moore    20.937
70    78    Ricky Gillespie    21.069
71    36    Mark Simpson    21.215

nwaas_martinsville_pole_mike-looney_car_101516

Mike Looney has one of the two locked in spots for Sunday’s Late Model Stock Car showcase at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway, by virtue of his pole-winning run Saturday. Chris Owens/Special To NASCARHomeTracks.com

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