NASCAR Whelen All-American Series News & Notes – 2010 Year End

December 07, 2010 at 10:56 AM

  • Season Wrap-Up Notebook
  • Awards Banquet Set For Charlotte
  • Toyota All-Star Showdown Slated For January

Rocco Brings Home First NASCAR National Title
Keith Rocco spent the better part of three summers leading the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race, only to watch the title slip away in the closing weeks. Determined to change that in 2010, Rocco put together one of the more remarkable championship runs in the history of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Rocco won six of his first seven points races en route to a 21-win season, and clinched the national championship with more than a month remaining in the season.

Racing the Connecticut asphalt Modified short-track circuit, Rocco won the SK Modified championships at Stafford Motor Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl. He also threw in a handful of starts at Thompson International Speedway. The 25-year-old from Wallingford, Conn., scored 810 points — the maximum total a driver can accumulate. He became the first national champion to accomplish this feat under the NASCAR championship format since the late Larry Phillips and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Greg Biffle in 1995. Phillips and Biffle achieved the maximum points under the system at the time; Phillips won the crown by virtue of more overall wins (32-27).

So complete was Rocco’s domination that he never lost the points lead and never went more than two straight races finishing outside the top five. His win at Waterford on Aug. 14 was his 18th of the season against a maximum 20-car field and clinched the title despite the fact the points season didn’t close until Sept. 19. A driver’s top 18 finishes at NASCAR-sanctioned tracks count toward their championship points totals.

Even more impressive, because of the handicapping system at the tracks he races, Rocco routinely starts back in the pack and must sprint to the front. Over the last four seasons, Rocco has 53 wins, 123 top fives and 151 top 10s in 189 starts.
Rocco also became the first driver to win three straight NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Connecticut championships.

Preble Rolls To Runner-Up Finish … As Rocco was setting the pace in New England, he was also keeping an eye on the Midwest. Because that’s where Craig Preble was putting on a dominating performance.

Preble finished second in the nation with 784 points and led the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series with 22 wins. The 43-year-old from Yutan, Neb., won the crate dirt Late Model division championship at I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb., and finished third at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb.

Preble had previously concentrated on various dirt touring series. But after picking up seven wins before the end of May and finding himself in the thick of the championship hunt, the team elected to focus on the NASCAR championship. He finished with 37 top fives in 38 starts at the two tracks and won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Nebraska title.

Howard Dominates At Grandview … Racing at just one NASCAR-sanctioned track, Duane Howard put together an incredible season that resulted in a third-place finish in the national standings. Racing at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa., the 47-year-old ran of a string of eight wins and five seconds in 13 starts in the middle of the summer to climb the national ranks.
He finished with eight wins and 19 top fives in 21 starts to win the track and state titles.

Fast Facts

  • The Event: NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet
  • The Place: Charlotte Convention Center - Crown Ballroom
  • The Date: Friday, Dec. 10
  • The Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • Broadcast Schedule: Live Webcast on NASCARHomeTracks.com
  • NASCAR PR Contact: Jason Christley, (386) 310-6094, jchristley@nascar.com

Awards Banquet Set In Hall Of Fame
NASCAR will honor its ‘stars of tomorrow’ and short-track veterans by gathering them in the greater Charlotte (N.C.) area for two special year-end celebrations.

NASCAR will return to Charlotte with a special week of activities culminating with the 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet on Friday, Dec. 10 and the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala on Saturday, Dec. 11. The banquets will be held at the Charlotte Convention Center's Crown Ballroom in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Fans throughout the U.S., Canada, and around the globe, will again be able to watch the festivities from both nights via a live webcast on nascarhometracks.com.

In addition to the new NASCAR Hall of Fame complex, the region is the home of the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C., as well as a majority of today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams.

Finalist Drivers To Be Honored
In addition to the spotlight on NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Keith Rocco, the 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet will also recognize the top drivers from each division throughout the series.

Implemented in 2010, the 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.

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 top three drivers in each division earned an invitation to the awards banquet.

Series Tidbits: Season Wrap-Up Notebook

Johnson Edges Falk For Commonwealth Crown … Justin Johnson successfully defended his Late Model championship at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. In the process, he achieved another goal. The 23-year-old from Durham, N.C., edged CE Falk, 724-720, to win his first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Virginia championship. Johnson, who finished fourth in the national standings, joined drivers such as Ned Jarrett, Wendell Scott, Neil Bonnett, Ray Hendrick, Richie Evans, Geoff Bodine and Philip Morris as Virginia champions. Pepper Martin won the first Virginia championship in 1952.

Close Battles Determine State Championships … Johnson was one of two state champions to win by just four points, the smallest margin among the 2010 champions. Pat Doar of Wisconsin also won the state title by just four points. Mike Rowe (Maine) and Ronnie Hults (Colorado) won by five points and Donald Maheffey Jr. (Ohio) won by six.

Mahder Nations Top Rookie … Craig Mahder, a 25-year-old from Eau Claire, Wisc., earned the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national Rookie of the Year Award presented by Jostens. In his first year racing Division I, Mahder had six wins and 13 top fives in 19 starts. He won the Impact Printing Late Model Division at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wisc., and finished 16th in the nation.

Three Times The Charm For Rocco, Ward, Bozell and Reuvers … Keith Rocco, Marty Ward (South Carolina), Andy Bozell (Michigan) and Donny Reuvers (Minnesota) each claimed their third state titles in 2010. Rowe and John Fortin (New York) will be recognized for their second straight titles. Twenty-five U.S. state and Canadian provincial champions that will be recognized at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet.

Henderson Makes Her Mark … Sloan Henderson won at Columbus Motor Speedway in July, on her 18th birthday, to become the first female to win a Late Model feature at the 62-year-old Ohio track. Henderson finished 97th in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series top 500 standings and will be honored in Charlotte with the Wendell Scott. Trailblazer Award.

Morris Finishes Strong … Despite seven wins and finishing seventh in the nation, Virginia’s Philip Morris considered 2010 a down year. The three-time national champion, however, finished strong as he captured the postseason Late Model extra-distance features at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and South Boston. It was Morris’ second win at Martinsville, with the other coming in 2000.

Four Tracks Join Series For 2011 … Since the conclusion of the season, NASCAR announced four more tracks will join the series next season: Limaland Motorsports Park in Lima, Ohio; Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway; Reno-Fernley Raceway in Nevada; and Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, Texas.

Learner's Permit License … NASCAR announced in 2010 a new license category to allow drivers under 16 to gain experience in entry-level divisions. The result was track records for the youngest feature winners fell at many tracks as the young drivers made their mark almost immediately.

Up Next: NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown

The 2011 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, the sport’s premier short-track racing showcase, will return to the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) on Jan. 28-29. The eighth running of the event, which brings together the top racers from across North America and has grown into the ”Daytona 500 of short-track racing,” will be highlighted by the 225-lap NASCAR K&N Pro Series all-star race, and features a pair of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series races.

By virtue of his NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national title, Connecticut’s Keith Rocco earned a secured spot in the starting lineup for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race. Rocco also has a starting spot in the 50-lap Late Model race as a result of being one of the top five state champions. Craig Preble (Nebraska), Duane Howard (Pennsylvania), Justin Johnson (Virginia) and Ron Sheridan (Ontario) also have secured starting positions if they elect to enter the race.

New this season will be heat races to set the field for the Late Model and 75-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model race. The 25-car feature fields will be determined by a pair of heat races for each — 25 laps for the Super Late Models and 20 laps for the Late Models. 

Tim Huddleston won the Late Model race last year, while former Toyota Speedway track champion Rip Michels won the Super Late Model event. 

The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown main event is broken up into three sections – two 100-lap segments preceding a 25-lap dash to the finish. Last year, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Joey Logano became just the second driver to win two Showdowns when he held off a furious challenge over the closing laps from 17-year-old Sergio Pena, who was making his series debut for Revolution Racing/Drive for Diversity in the event.

Both nights of racing will air live on SPEED as part of full weekend of racing on SPEED that includes the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series’ Rolex 24 at Daytona.

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