As Keith Rocco continues to build momentum to a second straight NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship, his closest pursuers are keeping pace.
Rocco won Friday at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway and again Saturday at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl to regain the top spot in the national standings. The Wallingford, Conn., driver has 16 wins, 22 top fives and 27 top 10s running regularly in the Modified division at those two tracks and Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway.
He took over the top spot from Lee Pulliam. The Semora, N.C., driver also won Saturday in the Late Model Division at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.
Third-place Philip Morris of Ruckersville, Va., matched Pulliam with a victory Saturday in the Late Model Division at South Boston (Va.) Speedway.
Rocco leads Pulliam, 700-694. Morris, a three-time national champion, has 644 points.
Pulliam has 12 wins, 17 top fives and 19 top 10s in 20 starts at Motor Mile, South Boston and Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., while Morris has 12 wins, 15 top fives and 16 top 10s in 19 starts at South Boston and Motor Mile.
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.
Once a driver reaches 18 starts, their total increases incrementally as they replace some poorer runs with better results.
This will come into play in the final weeks of the season – the final race date to count toward NASCAR points is Sunday, Sept. 18.
Under the points structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner receives two points for every car in the event up to 20 cars. Second place receives two fewer points, and so on through the field. Race winners receive an additional five bonus points. For example, if 20 cars are in the field, the winner receives 45 points, second place 38 and third, 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner receives 35 points, second 28 and third, 26.
Of Rocco’s 16 wins, eight have produced a maximum number of points (45). Morris has six of his 12 wins and Pulliam five of his 12.
Currently, Rocco’s two worst finishes are a 26- and 27-point race finish. Pulliam has a 22 and 24, while Morris has a 10 and a 12. Morris can make up significant ground with his next couple wins, but would start to level off as he catches Rocco and Pulliam.
CE Falk is third with 597 points. He has five wins, 14 top fives and 16 top 10s in 17 starts racing in the Late Model Division at South Boston and Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. Fifth-place Nate Monteith won the Late Model race this past weekend at New Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway and has eight wins and 17 top fives in 20 starts for 522 points.
Bill Leighton Jr. (Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa, I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb., and Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb.) is sixth, followed by Ryan Preece (Stafford, Thompson and Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway), Lee Tissot (New Kingsport and Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway), Frank Deiny Jr. (South Boston, Motor Mile and Caraway) and Daniel Pope II (New Kingsport and Motor Mile).
Brandon Davis collected his seventh win in 12 starts at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.). Davis, ranked 11th, has four 45-point wins and, like Leighton with 14 starts, has the potential to make large points gains in the closing weeks.
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 at the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, Dec. 9.
National Top 500 NASCAR Points Leaders
Stafford, T'son, Wat'd, M'nock
Caraway, S Boston, Motor Mile
Motor Mile, S Boston
S Boston, Langley
Motor Mile, Kingsport
Adams, I-80, Junction
Riverhead, Stafford, Thompson
S Boston, Motor Mile, Caraway
Kingsport, Motor Mile
Stafford, Thompson, Waterford
Caraway, Motor Mile
Caraway, Old Dominion, S Boston