All season long, Steve Blackburn dominated the Late Model Series at Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Virginia, driving his No. 22 Chevrolet Monte Carlo to 14 victories in 19 races. It was that domination and Blackburn's determination that helped...
All season long, Steve Blackburn dominated the Late Model Series at Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Virginia, driving his No. 22 Chevrolet Monte Carlo to 14 victories in 19 races. It was that domination and Blackburn's determination that helped him earn the 2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, Atlantic Region Championship. Having never finished outside of the top-five in 2004, his impressive run at Lonesome Pine Raceway also earned him the track championship for the first time in his six years of competition there.
In a season full of excitement for Blackburn, one moment now stands out among the rest.
"Getting the phone call from NASCAR saying that we had won the championship," Blackburn said. "I could not have had a dream and have it be any better than what this year has been so far. It has turned out great."
Looking back on his season, Blackburn, who is also the GM of a Honda/Harley Davidson motorcycle dealership in Prestonsburg, Kentucky founded by his father, is amazed at the success they have had so early in their stock car racing career.
"It's unreal," he said. "And we just barely won the championship."
In a tough fight with Frank Deiny, Jr. for the top spot for most of the season, Blackburn ended up with the highest ranking in the NASCAR Competition Performance Index (CPI). The CPI, which measures wins, top-five finishes and other factors, is the method used to determine NASCAR's regional championship standings.
When Blackburn attends the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series awards banquet in Nashville, Tenn. on October 30th, he will be presented with nearly $45,000 in post-season prize money.
Blackburn has come a long way in a short time. Having only competed in Late Models since 1999, he got his start riding motorcycles and dirt bikes, and his resume includes a motorcycle road course victory at Daytona in 1993. But in 1998, Blackburn, a long time NASCAR fan, sat in the grandstands of Lonesome Pine Raceway, watching the Late Models compete, and said to his brother, "We need to try this."
He then began competing at Lonesome Pine Raceway in 1999, finishing seventh in the track standings in just his first season, and earned his first victory in 2001. In the years since, he has competed at a couple other tracks, but has focused most of his attention on mastering Lonesome Pine Raceway. In that time, his on-track performance has continued to improve, and in 2002 he finished third in the standings, backing that up with a fourth place finish in 2004.
Earning several victories in his five-year stock car career, from 1999 to 2003, Blackburn was looking for even more success in 2004, so he added crew chief Gary Hostettler to Steve Blackburn Motorsports. Blackburn believes a lot of the credit for the team's success this year is because of Hostettler.
"His knowledge and help with the car set-up has really helped us improve," said Blackburn. "He knows more of what the car needs, and I'm still at a big learning curve. I'm learning every time I get into the car, so it was really his help that made us so successful."
Blackburn is hoping to continue that success into the 2005 season and beyond. While he enjoys the competition at Lonesome Pine Raceway, he wants to challenge himself at the next level.
"I would love to be able to move up," Blackburn said. "I would love to get a chance of getting to something whether it be in ASA, ARCA, Busch, or the Craftsman Truck Series, I'd love to get a shot at it."
Although he has his championships in hand, Blackburn's season is not yet over. He will be traveling to Martinsville Speedway for the October 10th Bailey's 300 Late Model event. He was one of 80 drivers who recently traveled to Martinsville for the open test session.
His life on the track has been full of excitement this year, and so has his life off of the track. Blackburn and his wife, Tina, are expecting their first child--a baby girl--in January.