Eight Named Champions

September 27, 2010 at 1:04 PM

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 23, 2010) – While Jamie Spanel didn’t start the season with national honors on his mind, when the final weekend of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season concluded, his performance has earned him an invitation to the series’ biggest stage.

The 31-year-old driver from Omaha, Neb., is one of eight drivers to finish 2010 atop their respective divisions in the new NASCAR Finalist Program.

“I didn’t expect this,” Spanel said. “Some of the guys were talking about the NASCAR Finalist Division points at about mid-season, and suddenly it became a whole new ball game.”

Spanel won his first championship in the Hornet Division at I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb., and he finished first in the dirt Division IV by just three points – the closest of the division races.

“Racing in the four-cylinder division is fun and we can do it on a budget,” said Spanel.

The NASCAR Finalist Program accomplishment also garnered Spanel an invitation to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet at the Crown Ballroom at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C, Friday, Dec. 10. The top three spots in each division earned invitations to the awards banquet.

“We offer our heartiest congratulations to the inaugural eight NASCAR Finalist Division champions,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR managing director of racing operations. “We look forward to recognizing them for their accomplishments at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.”

The new NASCAR Finalist national recognition program focuses on the divisions outside of the Feature Division at each NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track. Points are kept separately for dirt and asphalt tracks. A NASCAR-licensed driver’s best 14 finishes are counted toward their final points total for the year.

Each track in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series designates its top division as its Feature Division, and assigns its remaining divisions a designation of II, III, IV or V. The Finalist Program was established this season to recognize the drivers in those latter divisions.

The four dirt track NASCAR Finalist Division champions for 2010 include:

  • Division II: Jesse Sobbing, 28, Glenwood, Iowa, who won the B-Modified division at I-80 Speedway. Sobbing had eight wins, 17 top fives and 18 top 10s in 18 starts. In the NASCAR Division II points race, Sobbing finished 47 points ahead of runner-up Ronald Kline of Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa.
  • Division III: Brad Derry­, 23, of New Market, Iowa, earned the championships in the Pro Am division at I-80 in addition to finishing fifth in the Northland Oil Pro Stocks at Adams County. Derry had eight wins, 26 top fives and 30 top 10s in 39 starts. Derry won the Division III championship by 25 points over Greg Miller of Adams County.
  • Division IV: Spanel had five wins, 11 top fives and 16 top 10s en route to the Hornet Division championship at I-80. He won the Division IV title over Pat Shiflett, who races at I-80 and Adams County.
  • Division V: Andy Wilkinson, 35, of York, Neb., won the Steele Rubber Products Modified Division at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb. He had 18 top fives and 18 top 10s in 19 starts. Wilkinson won the Division V title by 22 points over Rich Dzelak Jr. of Superior (Wis.) Speedway, a .375-mile oval.

The four asphalt track NASCAR Finalist Division champions for 2010 include:

  • Division II: Danny Johnson, 45, of Lakeville, Minn., who competes in the Figure Eight division at Raceway Park in Shakopee, Minn. Johnson had a late-season surge to dethrone Ricky Martin, who had led most of the season. The Figure Eights are also a special event division at nearby Elko (Minn.) Speedway. Johnson had nine wins, 29 top fives and 41 top 10s in 46 starts, winning the division championships at both tracks.
  • Division III: Tommy Barrett Jr., 15, of Millis, Mass., who made good use of his NASCAR Learner’s Permit License – introduced by NASCAR this year to allow 14 and 15-year-olds to compete in select divisions. Barrett had 10 wins, 14 top fives and 14 top 10s in the SK Light Modified Division at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. Barrett holds a six-point lead over Matt Galko heading into the track’s final race weekend Oct. 1-3. Barrett won the Division III title by 81 points over Christopher Lambert, who races at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif.
  • Division IV: Rob Roush, 26, of Marengo, Ill., won the Road Runner Division at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway with five wins, 13 top fives and 14 top 10s in 18 starts. Roush won the Division IV championship by six points over Tim Hollen of Raceway Park.
  • Division V: Brian Adams, 27, of Norwood, Minn., who competes in the Arizonas at Canterbury Inn Mini Stock Division at Raceway Park, nipped fellow Raceway Park driver Doug Schmitz to win the NASCAR Division V title by seven points. The duo entered the weekend tied with 552 points. Adams finished with eight wins, 19 top 5s and 19 top 10s in 22 starts.

The implementation of the NASCAR Finalist Program served to ratchet up the competition at tracks across North America.

For example, Roush had to do some digging to even have a chance at the asphalt Division IV title.

“We won the feature with three weeks to go, then wrecked the car bad with two weeks to go,” Roush said. “My brother (crew chief) Arlyn and the crew worked all week to get the car right again. We went out and won the feature on the last night and held on to win the track and division championship.”

“It’s quite a surprise and definitely an honor to win these championships,” said Roush, a banking center manager for Bank of America.

Since its inception, NASCAR Home Tracks have served as a springboard in the careers of many NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., and Brian Vickers all began their careers racing in NASCAR weekly and regional touring series. More information on the NASCAR Whelen All American Series is available at www.NASCARHomeTracks.com.

For more information, contact:
Jason Christley, NASCAR Public Relations, (386) 310-6094 or jchristley@nascar.com