National Championship award increased

NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series National Championship award increased to $170,000, track champions to share $1.7 million point fund. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 15, 2003) - NASCAR's top weekly short track racer will receive up to $170,000 in...

NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series National Championship award increased to $170,000, track champions to share $1.7 million point fund.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 15, 2003) - NASCAR's top weekly short track racer will receive up to $170,000 in post-season awards, the national champion's share of this season's $1.7 million NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series point fund. Nearly 1,800 drivers are expected to compete for the awards, which will be divided among the track champions at 75 participating race tracks. The national championship payout is a new record for the 22-year-old series, as are the awards posted for the series' 2003 regional championships.

Understandably, the prize money provides motivation for hundreds of weekly competitors across the nation. 2002 national champion Peter Daniels, of Lebanon, N.H., collected $166,000 for his title last season and applauded the series for its continued growth.

"The NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series is a great program. It really gives the weekly racer tools to succeed, whether they're an aspiring NASCAR Winston Cup driver or just doing it as a hobby," Daniels said.

"Whether a weekly racer comes out of it with a regional or national title, I know from experience that it gives the driver a lot of exposure. Winning the 2002 title has opened up a lot of doors for me. It's been a great experience and like I've told everyone 'if it can happen to my team, it can happen to anyone'. It gives the weekly racer who supports their local track a great incentive program to go after. We have to give a lot of credit to NASCAR and Dodge, and all of these contingency sponsors that really believe in the sport, and believe in the weekly racer."

The awards are funded by Dodge, NASCAR and additional sponsors. Dodge has stepped-up its commitment to the series, becoming the exclusive title sponsor in February 2003. The automotive manufacturer continues to provide prize money as well as event night sponsorships at series tracks, while U.S. Army, Accel, Hurst, JE Pistons, POWERade, Sonic Racing Products and USG are new supporters of the series.

In each of NASCAR's eight regions - Atlantic, Heartland, Midwest, New England, Northeast, Northwest, Southeastern Coastal and Sunbelt - track champions will share more than $142,000 in post-season awards, with a record-setting $45,000 posted for each regional champion. Regional championships are determined by NASCAR's Competition Performance Index (CPI), a statistical formula that rates each driver based on their statistics and determines a regional ranking of drivers.

Winning a championship in a track's feature division isn't the only way to share in the awards, however. Additional prizes include the Craftsman Mechanic of the Year, Lincoln Electric Car Owner Award and Lunati Crew Chief Awards. ShorTrack Division and Charger Division Awards are available to support division drivers.

Dodge offers additional incentives to drivers using Dodge race cars, including $500 bonuses to the highest-finishing Dodge driver at each track, $2,500 to the highest-finishing Dodge in each region and a $25,000 bonus to the national champion - if they drive a Dodge. With posted awards already reaching record levels, the addition of this Dodge bonus would push the national championship award to nearly $200,000.

Competition for the coveted NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series championship is already underway at participating short tracks in 31 states. Championship points will close Sept. 21 and the awards will be presented Nov. 1 at the series' national banquet in Nashville, Tenn.

Army of One ... U.S. Army's support of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series includes the "Army of One" awards, which amounts to $240,000 that will be distributed among the 2003 track champions.

Grab Life by the Horns ... In addition to prize money, Dodge is offering once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for regional champions - if they drive Dodge vehicles. If a competitor wins a regional title while driving a Dodge race car, they will get a chance to test a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Dodge Ram in a special "test and tune" session to be arranged by Dodge. Scott Winters, of Tracy, Calif., earned such a test session with Bobby Hamilton Racing following his 2002 Sunbelt Region championship, in a Dodge-powered Modified that he drove at Madera (Calif.) Speedway.

In addition, should the national champion drive a Dodge race car, they will not only collect the $25,000 cash bonus, but will also take part in a special "test and tune" session behind the wheel of a Ray Evernham Motorsports Dodge Intrepid. To be eligible for these special tryouts and awards, a driver must use a Dodge race car, complete with the body and engine, for the entire 2003 season.

Whelen Engineers NASCAR Busch Series Tryout ... Whelen Engineering, a Connecticut-based manufacturer of light and siren devices, has posted yet another perk for the 2003 national champion. Whelen will arrange for the national champion to participate in a "test and tune" session with the Marsh Racing NASCAR Busch Series team, which is sponsored by Whelen.

New Logo Revealed ... Dodge's increased sponsorship involvement is recognized in the all-new NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series logo. Dodge, a presenting sponsor of the series in 2002, is now the exclusive title sponsor for the nationwide short track racing series and their name is more prominently featured in the new red and black oval design. Jump, a St. Louis-based creative agency, designed the new logo.


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Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Ray Evernham