NASCAR Camping World Series East News & Notes - Year End *Titlist Truex Heads Stellar Rookie Class In 2009 * NCWSE Notebook: Season Wrap-Up * Awards Gala To Honor Touring Champions Titlist Truex Heads Stellar Rookie Class In 2009 The 2009...
NASCAR Camping World Series East News & Notes - Year End
*Titlist Truex Heads Stellar Rookie Class In 2009
* NCWSE Notebook: Season Wrap-Up
* Awards Gala To Honor Touring Champions
Titlist Truex Heads Stellar Rookie Class In 2009
The 2009 season for the NASCAR Camping World Series East featured arguably the best rookie class in history as four first-year drivers finished in the top 10 in the standings and nearly two-thirds of the checkered flags were captured by cars with a yellow stripe.
Heading the class was Ryan Truex, who not only earned Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, but captured the 2009 Camping World Series East championship as well. Only current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rising star Joey Logano had accomplished that feat prior to Truex.
Truex, from Mayetta, N.J., won three races in his first season as a development driver for Michael Waltrip Racing. For the son of Martin Truex Sr. and younger brother of Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. - both former competitors in the Camping World Series East - the season didn't get off to a roaring start. A stellar mid-season run and strong finish, however, was enough to edge veteran Eddie MacDonald by 34 points for the title.
Three races into the season, Truex had recorded an average finish of 21st, but the turnaround was dramatic. In the fourth race of the season, Truex captured his first 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Light at South Boston (Va.) Speedway and finished third in the race for his first career top five. That effort began a streak of seven straight podium finishes - highlighted by wins at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway and Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. - that moved him from 12th in the standings to just one race away from the title.
Heading to the season finale at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Truex maintained a slim 30-point margin on MacDonald, but when the checkered flag flew, the former crossed the line one position ahead of the latter and the trophy was in hand.
In the season finale at Dover, Truex wasn't the only standout rookie celebrating. Brett Moffitt of Grimes, Iowa, dominated at the "Monster Mile" for the second win of his rookie campaign. Driving for Camping World Series East veteran Andy Santerre, Moffitt won the pole in his series debut and went on to register six top fives and nine top 10s, good enough for third place in the season standings.
Joe Gibbs Racing development driver Matt DiBenedetto made a big splash as well in 2009. The Grass Valley, Calif., native had an average finish of 6.7 in just seven starts with a win at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, N.C., and a last-lap battle with Truex in June at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., that resulted in another victory. DiBenedetto earned a series-high three 21 Means 21 Pole Awards presented by Coors Light and led more laps than any driver despite participating in just two-thirds of the races.
While Truex, Moffitt and DiBenedetto were perhaps the most prominent, the 2009 rookie class also had depth. Alan Tardiff registered eight top 10s - including a season-best third place at Tri-County - and finished seventh in points despite not competing in one race. Alex Kennedy's respectable season resulted in a 10th-place finish in the standings with three top 10s, highlighted by a career-best finish of fourth at Lime Rock.
Matt Kurzejewski made nine starts and was 15th in the standings while Jarit Johnson, the younger brother of three-time defending Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, finished 17th in points with seven starts.
A host of other up-and-coming racing talents also had impressive efforts in spot starts in 2009. Richard Childress Racing's Ryan Gifford had an average finish of 6.3 in four starts while Childress' grandson, Ty Dillon, had a pair of top 10s in three outings. Max Gresham, who split time in the JGR No. 18 with DiBenedetto, also recorded two top 10s in three events. Noted road racer Patrick Long had an average finish of ninth in four outings and nearly won at Watkins Glen while dirt racers Kevin Swindell and Josh Richards showed plenty of asphalt talent in their six combined starts.
The Event: NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala
The Place: Concord Convention Center Hall, Concord, N.C.
The Date: Saturday, Nov. 14
The Time: 7 p.m. ET
NCWSE Notebook: Season Wrap-Up
MacDonald Records Highest Points Finish: While he came up just short of his ultimate goal - winning the NASCAR Camping World Series East championship - Eddie MacDonald turned in the best season of his career nonetheless. A competitor since 2001, MacDonald's best points finish prior to this year was his seventh-place effort in 2008, but the veteran recorded a series-high 10 top 10s and finished as the title runner-up. MacDonald's campaign was highlighted by the first Coors Light Pole Award of his career at Adirondack International Speedway and a sweep of the pole and checkers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September.
Lavender Has Strong Run in Second Season: With an unaffiliated program like MacDonald's, Jody Lavender and the No. 88 team put together a strong title-contending run in 2009. After finishing 11th in points the previous season, Lavender led the standings for four races this year on the strength of five top-five efforts. He went to the season finale at Dover International Speedway with a mathematical shot at the crown, but ended up fourth in points, one of the best improvements from 2008 to 2009.
Park Back in Victory Lane: Veteran Steve Park, who has wins in every level of NASCAR racing, earned his first win the Camping World Series East in 13 years when he took the checkers at Adirondack. Park also earned his first East Series pole at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway in 2009, and finished fifth in points on the strength of seven top 10s.
Defending Champ Kobyluck Slips to Sixth: After a dominant 2008 campaign that resulted in his first Camping World Series East title, Matt Kobyluck had to settle for a sixth-place finish in this year's standings. Although he was able to record seven top 10s on the year, Kobyluck was held out of Victory Lane for the first time since 2003.
Delaney, Duff Make Large Strides in 2009: Like Lavender, Dustin Delaney and Ryan Duff also made significant strides in 2009. Delaney finished 13th in points last year with no top 10s, but recorded four in 2009 and wound up eighth in the standings. Duff, who finished 20th in 2008, made the show all 11 times this year and improved to ninth in points. Both also recorded career-best race finishes in 2009.
JGR No. 18 Has Impressive Season: Four poles and three wins among three drivers earned a second-place finish in the owner standings for the No. 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing. Matt DiBenedetto captured three poles and two wins in the Toyota Camry in just seven starts while Max Gresham kept the car up front with two top 10s in three starts. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Kyle Busch earned both the Coors Light Pole Award and the race victory in a moonlight effort for JGR in the car at the East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway. Busch's pole, along with DiBenedetto's at Dover, set new track records, and DiBenedetto's win at Tri-County was the first for a Toyota in the 23-year history of the series.
Hernandez Excels With Unplanned Opportunity: The offseason merger of Dale Earnhardt Inc. with Chip Ganassi Racing left DEI development driver Jesus Hernandez without a ride for 2009 after he finished third in points the previous season. Opportunity knocked last minute, however, as car owner Troy Williams needed a fill-in for his No. 12 car due to scheduling conflicts with NASCAR Mexico Series driver Antonio Perez, who was to pilot the ride. Turns out, there would be nine such conflicts during the 11-race schedule. Hernandez went out and registered six top 10s to help Williams finish eighth in owner points.
Year-End Awards Gala Set In Industry Hub
NASCAR will honor its "stars of tomorrow" and short-track veterans by gathering them in the greater Charlotte area for two special year-end celebrations.
With a special week of activities culminating in the 2009 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) Awards Banquet on Friday, Nov. 13, and the new NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala on Saturday, Nov. 14, NASCAR brings its season-ending ceremonies home to the industry hub -- Concord, N.C.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to raise the bar for all of NASCAR's developmental racing series, by bringing the champions from all of our series to the core of much of the motorsports industry," said George Silbermann, managing director of racing operations. "In addition to these two prestigious awards banquets, we are planning a number of special activities for our series champions, for attending track operators and for the industry. We look to take full advantage of what this hub of the stock-car racing industry has to offer."
Both season-end awards banquets will be held in the recently-completed Embassy Suites Hotel Concord Convention Center which is located near the NASCAR Research & Development Center, in proximity to the future NASCAR Hall of Fame complex, as well as the home bases of many of today's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams.
Moving the banquets to the Charlotte area compliments the commitment the community has made to the business of NASCAR and the development of the NASCAR Hall of Fame scheduled to open May 2010.
The NWAAS Awards Banquet will feature weekly racing drivers from top short tracks across the United States and Canada. Invited attendees will include the 2009 NWAAS national champion, NWAAS state and provincial champions, all 58 track champions, the national/state/provincial rookies of the year, the 2009 Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award winner and many others.
The NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Gala will feature the champions and top drivers from all of NASCAR's North American regional touring series including invitees from the NASCAR Camping World Series East, the NASCAR Camping World Series West, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
Up Next: NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown
NASCAR's premier short-track racing showcase, the 2010 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, will be run Jan. 29-30 at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.).
The seventh running of the event, which brings together the top racers from across North America for the "Daytona 500 of short-track racing," will be highlighted by the 225-lap NASCAR Camping World Series all-star race.
The schedule also includes a 100-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model race and a 75-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model race. Both nights of racing will air live on SPEED as part of a full weekend of racing on SPEED that includes the Rolex 24 at Daytona sports-car event.
The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown was held in the fall for its first five years. It was moved to January last year to give competitors more time to prepare and also to increase exposure for drivers and teams.
The result was an event that had everybody talking. Current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Joey Logano went for the win on the final turn of the final lap and collected race leader Peyton Sellers. Instead of a second straight showdown victory, Logano was penalized for the move, and the victory went to Matt Kobyluck, giving him his second career win in the event.
It was just another of a long line of exciting finishes to the all-star race.
Each race winner during the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Series season earned a protected starting spot in the main event. Also, 2009 series champions of NASCAR's regional touring series -- the NASCAR Camping World Series East (Ryan Truex), NASCAR Camping World Series West (Jason Bowles), NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (Donny Lia), NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour (George Brunnhoelzl III), NASCAR Canadian Tire Series (Andrew Ranger), and NASCAR Mexico Series along with the 2009 national champion for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (Philip Morris) have protected starting spots.
The remainder of the starting lineup will be determined through time trials, limited provisionals for NASCAR Camping World Series regulars, and the last-chance "Open" race that provides drivers one final chance to make the grid.
New this year, the top five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series state champions -- as determined by the final national standings -- entered in the Late Model race will be eligible for protected starting spots.