Eight weeks remain in NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge regional championship contests. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 22, 2002) - At 80 participating short tracks across the nation, the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by ...
Eight weeks remain in NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge regional championship contests.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 22, 2002) - At 80 participating short tracks across the nation, the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge championship picture is coming in to focus. Drivers in the series have until Sept. 15 to compete in the required minimum of 18 races, which make them eligible for a regional or national title. With eight weeks remaining, the championship favorites are beginning to show their stuff.
How the championships are won
The tracks are grouped in to eight geographic regions. At each participating track, drivers in the feature division are eligible for regional and national championships, which are determined by the Competition Performance Index (CPI). This index rates each driver based on their winning percentage (number of wins divided by number of starts), top-five and top-10 finishes, number of starts and the number of cars in their respective divisions. The points leader at each track is ranked in the"first tier" of the regional standings. The regional champion will be the highest rated driver in this"first tier," so it is critical to earn the track points lead first.
Mark McFarland, of Winchester, Va. has collected five Late Model wins at Old Dominion Speedway and is a strong favorite to win the regional championship. McFarland has finished in the top-five in each of his 12 starts at the Manassas, Va. oval.
One driver hoping to unseat McFarland from the top of the standings is a driver who has been there before. Wade Day, of Blountville, Tenn., has an amazing record of 10 wins in 11 starts at Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Va. Day was a NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge regional champion in 2000.
Stretching from Tennessee to Minnesota, the Heartland Region is led by William Tuckwell of Metamora, Ill. Tuckwell, who competes in the Dirt Late Model division at Peoria (Ill.) Speedway, clicked off seven consecutive victories to open the season and has remained at the top of the Heartland Region rankings all season. Kevin Nuttleman, of Bangor, Wis., races at LaCrosse (Wis.) Fairgrounds Speedway and has been inching his way toward the top of the standings each week. Rockton, Ill. driver Ricky Bilderback, a 2001 regional champion, races at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway and has also made a slow but steady climb towards the top during the first 10 weeks of competition.
Clint Bowyer and John O'Neal Jr. are staging a memorable battle in the Midwest Region. O'Neal, of Kansas City, Mo., won the championship over Bowyer last year as the pair finished one-two in the Heartland Region. Following a realignment of regions for 2002, the two drivers find themselves battling against each other once again for the Midwest Region honors. O'Neal took one step closer to the top of the regional rankings with his seventh feature win July 20.
New England Region
The New England Region is home to the defending NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge national champion, Ted Christopher, of Plainville, Conn. Christopher has not yet returned to championship form at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, nor has he dominated the regional standings as he has in each of the past two seasons. That job has been left to Pete Daniels, of Lebanon, N.H. Daniels, a multi-time track champion at Claremont (N.H.) Speedway, has outdistanced himself from all challengers with eight wins and 10 top-five finishes overall in the NASCAR Modified division at Claremont.
In the Northeast Region, veteran driver Buck Catalano, of Ontario, N.Y., has stayed near the top of the standings all season long. Catalano has seven wins at Spencer (N.Y.) Speedway but might not complete 18 races before Sept. 15. This leaves defending Holland (N.Y.) Speedway and Northeast Region champion Vern Bliss, of Arcade, N.Y., as a favorite for the title along with defending Jennerstown (Pa.) Speedway track champion Neil Brown, of Acme, Pa. To date, Bliss has five wins and eight top-five finishes overall at Holland while Brown has four wins and six top-five finishes overall at Jennerstown.
The Northwest Region encompasses ten tracks across California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Washington. 2001 regional champion Aaron Days, of Turlock, Calif., is once again on top of the track championship points at Altamont Raceway Park in Tracy, Calif., but the Late Model championship battle at Colorado National Speedway in Denver, Colo. might provide a preview of the regional championship outcome. Roger Avants, of Littleton, Colo. is seeking his fifth track championship but two other former title winners are hot on his heels.
Bruce Yackey, of Greeley, Colo., was the 2001 Colorado National Late Model champion; Jerry Robertson, of Arvada, Colo., won the track title in 2000 and was also a NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge regional champion. Avants, Yackey and Robertson have combined for 13 wins in the division's first 14 races and are expected to battle for the track championship until the last weeks of the season.
Southeastern Coastal Region
Jamey Caudill, of Four Oaks, N.C., has put in a strong performance at Southern National Speedway in Kenly, N.C., earning five wins in his first 10 starts. Close behind Caudill in the regional championship chase is Timothy Peters, of Providence, N.C. Peters is the points leader at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C., where he has seven wins and 10 top-five finishes overall. Not to be overlooked are Southampton Motor Speedway standouts Phil Warren and Brandon Butler. Both are former regional champions and will challenge Southampton points leader Denny Hamlin down the stretch.
In the first year of Dodge's presenting sponsorship of the series, Dodge executives are no doubt excited to see one of their own on the leader board. Scott Winters, of Tracy, Calif., pilots a Dodge-powered Modified at Madera (Calif.) Speedway and has led the regional standings for several weeks. Should Winters prevail as the regional winner, he will receive an additional $2,500 bonus from Dodge, on top of the $43,000 prize for the regional championship. Other contenders for the Sunbelt Region title are Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Late Model leader Thane Alderman, of Las Vegas, and Dennis Reno Jr., of Tarrant, Ala., who competes at the region's easternmost track, Birmingham (Ala.) International Raceway.