2006 national champion - Philip Morris

MORRIS CROWNED 2006 NASCAR DODGE WEEKLY SERIES NATIONAL CHAMPION; RETURNS NATIONAL TITLE TO VIRGINIA FOR THIRD TIME IN FOUR SEASONS Motor Mile Speedway Late Model Star Wins $75,000 Prize; Ties Closest Points Margin in Series History DAYTONA ...

MORRIS CROWNED 2006 NASCAR DODGE WEEKLY SERIES NATIONAL CHAMPION; RETURNS NATIONAL TITLE TO VIRGINIA FOR THIRD TIME IN FOUR SEASONS

Motor Mile Speedway Late Model Star Wins $75,000 Prize; Ties Closest Points Margin in Series History

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 5, 2006) -- Philip Morris entered last Saturday's Late Model race at Caraway Speedway as a long shot. He emerged as a champion.

Morris, of Ruckersville, Va., won the 2006 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national championship by recording his 13th win of the season at Caraway, a track where he hadn't raced at all before last week. Morris spent most of the 2006 season at the track he's called home for several years, Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. At Motor Mile, Morris recorded nine wins and 14 top-five finishes to claim the 2006 Late Model track championship -- his seventh -- along with the $25,000 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Division I title.

Morris needed one more victory to have a mathematical chance of winning the national title over veteran Dirt Late Model driver Joe Kosiski, of Omaha, Neb., who held the national points lead before Morris' final, fateful race at Caraway.

With his dramatic last-chance victory, Morris reached a NASCAR point total of 1,112, based on his best 16 finishes of the season. Morris edged Kosiski, who won the NDWS Division II championship, by just two points (1,114-1,112) for the national championship. NASCAR points are awarded in two-point increments, so the final championship margin was the equivalent of just one position on the race track.

The tiny gap between Morris and Kosiski is equal to the incredibly close finish of Barry Beggarly's national championship run in 1993. Although a slightly different points system was used to determine the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national champion that year, Beggarly's national title was also awarded by the equivalent of one position on the race track. Beggarly, of Pelham, N.C., finished with the same point total as local championship rival Dennis Setzer, but he had recorded one more runner-up finish than Setzer had during the season -- and claimed the '93 national title on a tiebreaker.

Morris will receive an additional $50,000 bonus for winning the national championship and he'll be honored at the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series awards banquet, Nov. 11 in Las Vegas.

Morris is the third Virginia driver to win the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national championship in the past four years. Mark McFarland, of Winchester, Va., brought the national title to the Commonwealth for the first time in 2003. Peyton Sellers, of Danville, Va., won it in 2005 and Morris keeps it on Virginia soil for the second consecutive year.

The 2006 national championship is the second major NASCAR title for Morris, who won the NDWS Blue Ridge Regional championship in 2001. In addition to his seven track titles at Motor Mile, Morris was the 2003 track champion at South Boston (Va.) Speedway.

Morris has also raced in the NASCAR Busch Series, making 12 starts during the 1998-2001 seasons. He recorded a career-best finish of fifth place at Rockingham, N.C. in 1998. <pre> Final NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Division I standings (best 16 finishes)

Pos     Driver Name             Home Track               Starts  Wins    T-5     T-10   Points
1       PHILIP MORRIS           MOTOR MILE SPEEDWAY      16      13      16      16      1,114
2       TIM KARRICK             LAKESIDE SPEEDWAY        16      8       16      16      1,098
3       JOHN ALLEN              LINN COUNTY SPEEDWAY     16      7       16      16      1,080
4       LYNN HARDY              ROCKY MOUNTAIN RACEWAY   16      8       15      16      1,054
5       DEAC MCCASKILL          SOUTHERN NATIONAL        16      4       15      16      1,048
6       RANDY PORTER            GREENVILLE-PICKENS       16      7       16      16      1,026
7       JUNIOR MILLER           BOWMAN GRAY STADIUM      16      5       13      16      1,012
8       GREG EDWARDS            LANGLEY SPEEDWAY         16      5       16      16      970
9       RODNEY COOK             ACE SPEEDWAY             16      4       11      16      954
10      DREW HERRING            SOUTH BOSTON SPEEDWAY    16      9       11      14      952
11      JAMIE STEPHENS JR       LANIER NATIONAL SPEEDWAY 16      4       14      16      938
12      JOHN SANDQUIST JR       MANSFIELD MOTORSPORTS    14      2       10      13      882
13      RICKY BILDERBACK        ROCKFORD SPEEDWAY        16      10      16      16      858
14      BOBBY BABB JR           BEECH RIDGE MOTOR        16      4       10      15      854
15      RANDY BENSON            CARAWAY SPEEDWAY         16      4       13      16      824
16      SHANE HARDING           EVERGREEN SPEEDWAY       13      9       12      12      680

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Dennis Setzer , Mark McFarland , Peyton Sellers , Philip Morris