NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Springs Into Action
Four tracks open this weekend as short-track season gets underway
Four NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks in four states open for their 2011 season this weekend.

Three open Saturday, March 12. They include Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway, Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway, and South Boston (Va.) Speedway. Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., begins its season with a two-day show that includes a 200-lap event for its Division I Late Model Division on Sunday.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series includes 57 weekly short tracks in the United States and Canada. Drivers compete for track, state and national championships.

“We’re excited to begin the 30th season of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR managing director of racing operations. “In communities across North America, fans and racers are heading for their NASCAR Home Tracks to enjoy the type of grass roots racing we know as the ‘Soul of NASCAR.’ ”

Greenville Pickens, a half-mile paved oval, is one of nine tracks that have been part of the series since its inception in 1982. Marty Ward of Marietta, S.C., is the defending NASCAR Late Model track champion. In 1997 Dexter Canipe of Claremont, N.C., won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship racing there. Kevin Whitaker operates the track on Saturday nights.

Kingsport is a .375 mile banked concrete oval and is being reopened Saturday by former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver and first-year promoter Robert Pressley. The track had been dormant for several years. Wade Day of Blountville, Tenn., won a NASCAR regional championship racing there in 2000. The track hosts regular racing on Friday nights and is less than 30 miles from Bristol Motor Speedway.

South Boston produced 2005 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Peyton Sellers. Past track champions Barry Beggarly and Philip Morris also won the series’ national championship. Justin Johnson of Durham, N.C. won the 2010 track title. The speedway is a .400-mile paved oval located east of Martinsville, Va. and is operated on Saturday nights by Cathy Rice.

Travis Swaim of High Point, N.C., is the two-time defending Late Model champion at Caraway, a .455-mile paved oval. The track opens with a special two-day event that will also include the opening race for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Bobby Labonte, 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, won the track’s Late Model championship in 1987. The track is located south of Greensboro, N.C., and is operated on Saturday nights by Darren and Renee Hackett.

Tracks opening on Saturday, March 19, include Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway, a .363-mile paved oval and The Bullring at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway, a .375-mile paved oval.

Hickory Motor Speedway opens for its 60th season. Ralph Earnhardt won five Hickory track championships in the 1950s. Four-time track champion Max Prestwood won the 1990 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship. Andy Mercer of Cramerton, N.C.,  is the two-time defending track champion. The track is operated by Kevin Piercy.

The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway opened in 1985 and joined the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 1990. The track’s most famous graduates are Kurt and Kyle Busch who each won Bullring championships. Dustin Ash of Las Vegas won his second Late Model championship in four years in 2010. The Saturday night track is operated on by Speedway Motorsports, Inc., and managed by Tim Richter.

Houston (Texas) Motorsports Park, a .375 mile asphalt and concrete oval opened February 12 and its sister track, Thunderhill Raceway, a .375 mile paved oval in Kyle, Texas, opened March 5. Open-wheel Modifieds are the Division I at both tracks. Zachary Hausler won two features at Houston in February, while Michael Umscheid won the feature at Thunderhill Saturday.

Keith Rocco was the 2010 Whelen All-Ameircan National Champion.  Will one of the drivers racing this weekend dethrone him?