The way the top contenders are piling up wins, the 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship is likely to come down to the final race weekend.
And Late Model fans in Virginia are getting an early preview of the fierce competition.
A week after coming up short to three-time NASCAR national champion Philip Morris at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, Lee Pulliam successfully defended his home turf by sweeping the twin features at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., this past Saturday.
Morris and Pulliam have accounted for 13 wins in 20 starts this season between the two tracks. Along with Frank Deiny Jr., they occupy spots second through fourth in the latest NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Top 500 standings.
“Just trying to get wins every week is getting tougher and tougher,” Morris said. “”It’s probably going to get even more fierce and competitive from here.
“It’s going to really come down to whoever wants it the most.”
Defending national champion Keith Rocco, of Wallingford, Conn., earned his sixth win of the season Saturday at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl. The 26-year-old has five wins and nine top 10s to lead the standings with 388 points. Rocco races in the asphalt Modified division at three Connecticut tracks – Thompson International Speedway, Stafford Motor Speedway and Waterford.
A driver’s best 18 results through Sept. 18 are counted toward their state and national points totals, and the champions are decided on overall points total.
Morris, 46, of Ruckersville, is second with seven wins and nine top fives in 10 starts for 359 points.
Pulliam, 23, of Semora, N.C., has six wins and eight top 10s in 10 starts for 336 points. His two wins at Motor Mile give him six wins in the first seven races at that track – breaking the mark set by Morris, a seven-time track champion there.
“To come out here and beat Philip Morris from sixth with him on the pole both times – it says a lot about this car and this team,” Pulliam told the track after his sweep. “He’s one of the best in the business. You know, we’ve had feuds, we’ve had battles, and we’ve had wars. But he’s one of the greats. We’ve had some spills, but we’ve had plenty of great races, too.”
Deiny, who also has a start at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., has 292 points.
Zachary Hausler, 16, of Tomball, Texas, is fifth with nine wins in 13 starts in the Modified Divisions at Houston Motorsports Park and Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, Texas. Hausler finished third this past weekend in a race won by 15-year-old Austin Wayne.
Wayne, who turned 15 on March 5, joined Las Vegas’ Dylan Kwasniewski as the second 15-year-old driver to win since NASCAR lowered the eligibility age for Division I competition in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
Nate Monteith is sixth in points with Brandon Davis seventh. Each has five wins. Monteith had a first and fourth in the twin Late Model features at New Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway this past weekend, while Davis finished second to Chris Holloway in the Late Model division at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.).
Late Model drivers Tommy Lemons (Motor Mile, Caraway, South Boston), Daniel Pope III (Kingsport, Motor Mile) and Lee Tissot (Kingsport) round out the top 10.
Under the points structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner received two points for every car in the event up to 20. Second place received two fewer points, and so-on through the field. Race winners received an additional five bonus points. For example, if there are 20 cars, the winner received 45 points, second gets 38 and third 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner received 35 points, second gets 28 and third 26.
Track, state and provincial champions and the top three finishers in the national standings earn invitations to the 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet.
National Top 500 NASCAR Points Leaders