DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 16, 1998) It took a dozen years, but for the second time in his racing career George Kent Jr. of Horseheads, N.Y., is a NASCAR Winston Racing Series regional champion. The 49-year-old driver captured the ...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 16, 1998)
It took a dozen years, but for the second time in his racing career George Kent Jr. of Horseheads, N.Y., is a NASCAR Winston Racing Series regional champion. The 49-year-old driver captured the NASCAR Winston Racing Series Northeast Region championship by winning nine races in 18 starts at Tioga Speedway in Owego, N.Y. Kent was also the 1986 Northeast Region Champion.
The Kent family has a good, long standing history at Tioga; George Kent III, Kent's son, took home the track title last year. The younger Kent, who is also known as J.R., gave his dad a run for his money by finishing second in the track's final standings.
Kent won the championship worth $39,500 in typical fashion, without making a lot of noise. His quiet personality and subdued style make him a stealth threat who has always preferred to let his racing do the talking for him. Yet, he also realizes the significance of his achievements.
"I am very proud to have won this championship," said Kent, who had a total of 15 top-five finishes. "We had to compete against 30 good drivers at our own track, and dozens of different drivers at nine other tracks in our region."
The NASCAR Winston Racing Series has changed dramatically since Kent won his first title. During the 1986 season there were five regions. Today, there are 10 regions and the series is comprised of nearly 100 tracks.
"The increase in the point fund since 1986 has been amazing," said Kent. "I never thought we would have the opportunity to win almost $40,000 racing at only one track. Winston and the rest of the series sponsors have really made this championship something to go after."
Winning the regional title was a goal for Kent and his car owner Butch Langtree in their first season together. Last winter Kent's former car owner, Wayne Cheeseboro, had decided to devote more time to his business. A call came from Langtree during the off season and Kent had a new ride. Now, Kent and Langtree will take a ride to the national champions' banquet in Nashville, Tenn., on Nov. 6.
"We won the first three races of the year," said Kent. "That was important. It gave us early season momentum. From then on, we were watching the points every week."
Kent was among the leaders in the region for the entire season. Every week the team focused on putting the car in victory lane against the tough competition found in the NASCAR Winston Racing Series Modified division at Tioga Speedway. Starting deep in the field for the 30-lap features, he was able to work his way to the front on Saturday nights and remain in the hunt for the regional championship.
"You need the victories," explained Kent. "The competition on the regional level is so great that you have to win races. If you don't win races, you can't win the title."
Throughout his 33-year racing career, Kent has been a frequent visitor to the winner's circle. In 1986, he won 12 races to capture the regional crown. He has raced at Tioga for 25 years and is approaching the 90-victory mark at this New York half-mile oval. He has been the Tioga Speedway champion eight times including his NASCAR Winston Racing Series championship this season.
George Kent Jr. also has raced in other NASCAR series. He has collected 12 career victories on the Featherlite Modified Series, a part of the NASCAR Touring Division, and has raced in NASCAR sanctioned events up and down the East Coast.
"I have always appreciated what NASCAR has done for me," said Kent. "NASCAR is more than just the Winston Cup Series. The organization has not forgotten where it came from. Winning a championship during the 50th Anniversary of NASCAR makes it a championship I will remember forever."
Source: NASCAR Online