Winning Never Gets Old for Carlson
Veteran Scores Third Straight LaCrosse, Wisconsin State Titles
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Wisconsin has had its share of native sons enjoy success in NASCAR racing.
While 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth might get the most national publicity, and the late Dick Trickle became a cult hero thanks in part to the weekly updates on ESPN’s SportsCenter in the 1990’s, no driver has more NASCAR championship trophies than Steve Carlson.
Once again, it’s time Carlson made more room in his trophy case.
Carlson, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion, teamed up with car owner John Gilbertson to win his third straight track championship at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway. It was his sixth overall, and second Wisconsin state crown in as many years.
Carlson has won other titles throughout his career and sees no reason to stop anytime soon.
“I’m having fun in a fast and competitive car, Carlson said. “As long as I’m able to do that and keep winning races I see no reason to step away. Carlson also credited advice fellow Wisconsinite Trickle gave him years ago that helped him enjoy so much success at LaCrosse and other tracks when he traveled across the Midwest years ago winning races and championships in the former NASCAR Midwest Series.
“Dick told me years ago that if you could race well at LaCrosse and win races you could win anywhere, and he was right,” Carlson said. “LaCrosse has big sweeping turns and if you could learn to keep your momentum going and set up your car the right way you could run well at other tracks.”
Another reason the 58-year-old West Salem, Wisconsin, native still enjoys racing at LaCrosse is the time it gives him to race with his son Michael.
“Being out there with Michael each week keeps me motivated,” Carlson said. “I don’t know if he’ll get to travel around and race like I got to years ago so I want to enjoy the chance to help him and race with him at our home track. It’s a lot of fun and he’s a good racer.”
The elder Carlson got off to a fast start last season when he won the first three features on the schedule. He finished the season driving his No. 66 Johnnies Hobbies/Lloyd’s Speedshop entry to eight wins and 17 top-five finishes in as many starts in the Kwik Trip Late Model division at LaCrosse.
He used his strong performance to cruise past Bradley Powell for the state and track titles by 114 and 134 points, respectively.
Carlson closed out the NWAAS season sharing Victory Lane in August with Michael as a father-son duo each won a feature event during a doubleheader night at their home track.
The 2015 championships were also the first with new crew chief Al Hemmersback, who moved up from crew member to team leader last season. Chris and Craig Johnson along with Toby Nuttleman joined Hemmersback to get Carlson’s car ready each week at the legendary .545-mile track.
“I really appreciate all the guys that work had on the car each week and all of our sponsors who help make it possible for us to race,” Carlson said. “These guys have been with me a while now and they love to race. They even go out and help Ty (Majeski) when he travels and races. They love it.”
Carlson will return to LaCrosse in search of a fourth consecutive Late Model division championship when the track kicks off its 2016 season on Sunday, April 24.
“I’m looking forward to getting back on the track and having fun again this year,” Carlson said. “One of the best times I have at the track is helping Michael and getting to spend time with him. That means a lot to me. We’re ready to get going.”
Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 57 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.