Crew Chiefs of the Year Named

Virginian wins True Value Mechanic Award DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 10, 1998) A veteran Virginia NASCAR Winston Racing Series Late Model Stock Car crew chief has been selected by his peers to receive a national honor. Joe Dudding, 50, of...

Virginian wins True Value Mechanic Award

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 10, 1998) A veteran Virginia NASCAR Winston Racing Series Late Model Stock Car crew chief has been selected by his peers to receive a national honor. Joe Dudding, 50, of Narrows, Va., is the 1998 NASCAR Winston Racing Series/True Value Mechanic of the Year.

In addition to winning the national award, Dudding is also the series' Blue Ridge Region winner. He'll receive awards totaling $6,500 from True Value Hardware Stores at the NASCAR Winston Racing Series Awards Banquet in Nashville, Tenn., on Nov. 6.

Dudding, an electrician by trade, is joined by nine other regional champions, selected by NASCAR's membership through a two-round voting process. Members used ballots that appeared in NASCAR Magazine in June and September. NASCAR Magazine is a membership publication.

"We are grateful to True Value for helping NASCAR recognize ordinary people with extraordinary talent," said Tom Deery, NASCAR vice president, Winston Racing Series.

Dudding has worked on a variety of race cars that compete at New River Valley Speedway in Radford, Va., throughout the track's 10-year history. His talents have brought wins to many teams, including teams that his cars have raced against.

"I'm the type of guy who likes to help anybody," Dudding said. "If somebody's having trouble with their handling, I'll help them if they want to listen to what I've got to say on it."

"Joe's a special type of person," said Chad Harris, who drives the Donald DiRico-owned Chevrolet Monte Carlo Dudding prepares. "He helped a guy who was struggling to finish in the top-10 in our features. The first race he ran his car with the way Joe set it up, he finished in the top-five. That made it harder on us. But as long as Joe's with us, we'll be very happy."

The nine regional champions include:

Jim Ahlborn, 32, Jones Mills, Pa., Northeast Region, crew chief for Late Model driver Neil Brown at Motordrome Speedway in Smithton, Pa. Ahlborn is a mechanic for Brown Timber, the Brown family's sawmill company.

Leon Chartier, 52, Granby, Mass., New England Region, owner and crew chief for Pro Stocks driven by Barry Gray at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. Chartier is self-employed as an automotive repair shop operator.

Justin "Tiny" Gardner, 34, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Midwest Region, crew chief for dirt Modified driver Scott Megonigle at West Liberty (Iowa) Raceway. Gardner is a truck driver for Door's Inc.

Sammy Houston, 33, Chesterfield, Va., Atlantic Seaboard Region, crew chief for Late Model driver Philip Morris at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. Houston is a full-time employee of the Calvin Spencer/Julius Morris-owned race team.

Jerry Hargrove, 47, Franklin, Tenn., Heartland Region, crew chief for 1998 NASCAR Winston Racing Series Heartland Region champion Joe Buford at Nashville (Tenn.) Speedway USA. Hargrove is a full-time employee for Buford Racing.

Paul Horelka, 51, Jourdanton, Texas, Sunbelt Region, crew chief, car builder and engine builder for his son, Donnie, in the Late Model division at San Antonio (Texas) Speedway. The senior Horelka is an oil and natural gas well driller.

Rich Palmer, 31, Everett, Wash., Great West Region, crew chief for Super Stock driver Greg Bennet at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. Palmer is a salesman for an industrial supply distributor.

Nina Pratt, 30, Salida, Calif., Pacific Coast Region, crew chief and co-owner of an eight-truck team in the Mini Super Truck division for four cylinder trucks at Altamont (Calif.) Raceway Park. Pratt is an administrator at Beuel Vocational Institution, a medium and maximum security prison facility.

Kevin Schirmers, 31, Sauk Center, Minn., Mid-America Region, co-owner and crew chief for a three-brother team featuring driver Dave Schirmers and crewman Tim Schirmers in the Late Model division at I-94 Speedway in Sauk Center, Minn., a first-year NASCAR Winston Racing Series track. Kevin Schirmers is a manager of the Texaco/Truckers Inn Truck Stop across the street from the speedway.

This year's selection process was punctuated by a record response from NASCAR members who compete in the NASCAR Winston Racing Series, NASCAR's national championship program for weekly short track racers at about 100 tracks across the USA. NASCAR members selected a record 299 local divisional winners at NASCAR Winston Racing Series tracks, and a record shattering number of nearly 7,500 ballots were certified by the NASCAR Points and Membership Department during the 1998 voting process.

True Value will provide travel and accommodations for all 10 regional winners to share $20,000 in cash awards at the NASCAR Winston Racing Series champions banquet in Nashville, Tenn., on Nov. 6.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Joe Buford , Philip Morris