2002 National Awards Banquet report

Joey Clanton honored as National Champion at ASA Awards Banquet. Elizabeth (IN) November 2, 2002 -- Third-year ASA driver Joey Clanton grabbed the top honors with the American Speed Association as the ASA National Champion during the 2002 ASA ...

Joey Clanton honored as National Champion at ASA Awards Banquet.

Elizabeth (IN) November 2, 2002 -- Third-year ASA driver Joey Clanton grabbed the top honors with the American Speed Association as the ASA National Champion during the 2002 ASA Racing Series National Awards Banquet on Saturday, November 2 at Caesars Hotel Casino near Louisville, Kentucky.

The Georgian collected nearly $400,000 this season, including $200,000 for the National Championship.

"I could not have had a better team behind me," said Joey Clanton. "This has been the culmination of three great years in ASA. The Steve Dale Motorsports team, of course starting with Steve and my crew chief (Bond Suss), has made this dream come true for m e. For Gary St. Amant and our one-point finish, he took me aside in 2000 and really became my mentor. It may have come back to bite him, but the respect he has shown me means a lot and, but for a few bumps I may owe him, he has been quite a competitor and was the best competition you could have."

Clanton ended the year with nine wins, tying him with series legends Bob Senneker and Butch Miller for second best on the all-time single season list. 2001 National Champion Johnny Sauter set the standard last year with 10 wins.

Clanton's season total stats show that of the nine victories, five came consecutively in the opening events to start the year. The five straight became a record to begin a season and tied Sauter for most consecutive at any point in a season from 2001.

He also led a series-high 2,077 laps and tied Butch Miller and Robbie Pyle with each earning four pole positions during the season. Additionally, Joey Clanton's 97.67% laps completion ratio tied Kevin Cywinski for the best in the series.

"My mom has always been with me and my (late) dad, who was with me all those laps at Winchester, will always be my hero," said an emotional Clanton. "He was the one who inspired me to drive a race car and drive it like him. My brother Rusty I owe big thank s and we put a new meaning to the phrase sibling rivalry. Brandi (wife) takes care of our kids, Christopher and Emily, when I'm gone all the time. She makes so much of this possible."

Two-time ASA National Champion Gary St. Amant finished second by a single point in the closest points contest in ASA history. St. Amant won four of the final five events to help produce the dramatic championship battle at season's end. It was his second co nsecutive point's runner-up finish.

"Reflecting back on the 2002 final race -- Man, did that s--k! "said St. Amant to the roar of the assembled ASA community. "I really didn't want to use that word, but to lose the championship by one point at the last race ̷ 0; we are talking about a couple thousandths of a second at Winchester. Heck, the timing light could have been off a couple thousandths of a second. One wheel bearing probably cost us a championship. But it wasn't all that bad of a year."

Former champion Kevin Cywinski finished third in the final points, despite winning only one race. He posted 14 top-five results and led for 675 laps to contend for the title all the way into the 20th and final race.

"I thank Joe Miller (Country Joe Racing) for his support as at the start of the season we weren't sure we would be racing," said Cywinski. "We had a very good year but our expectations are high and having won a championship before t hat's the prize we really want. I ultimately thank my wife Traci for giving me the best prize of the year, my daughter, Cara."

Pat Schauer Memorial Rookie of the Year Award winner David Stremme, of South Bend (IN), finished fourth in the final points. Stremme posted wins at Salem Speedway and Indianapolis Raceway Park. He had a streak of seven consecutive podium finishes at one po int in the season.

"I'm happy to be up here as one year ago I didn't have a job," said Stremme. "Ron and Dee Daniels (car owners) stuck their necks out and allowed me to do what I've always wanted. It was a great team that I had that Howie Lettow put together. After Irwindale Speedway early in the year, it looked like Ron's salvage yard in the pits and I though I was going to be fired after that. They let me stay and we had a pretty good year. We won a few races and Rookie of the Year in this series is great."

Veteran Mike Garvey, of Atlanta, finished fifth. His team was started anew this season after three previous years with the Minnesota-based LaFavre Racing teams. The 13-time ASA race winner was unable to add to that win total this year although he posted si x top-five finishes, eight top-10s and led for 568 laps.

"It has been quite a year for us and to tell you the truth I didn't think I would have a chance to even stand up here this year," said Garvey. "My car owner Bill Plemons is the guy who gave me the chance to even race at all this yea r. He likes to raise a little hell and make this deal fun. He calls me Mikey and invited me to build this team almost immediately after it ended with the LaFavre team. His act was more unselfish than people realize because he's also a racer and he pu t his team on hold to let me race. For that I'm grateful."

The remainder of the top-10 drivers were also invited to the stage during the banquet, including Robbie Pyle, Bryan Reffner, Kyle Busch, Rick Beebe and Todd Kluever. None of those drivers were able to secure a win during the season.

Once again, ASA handed out several special awards, designed to honor some of those drivers and teams who performed above the call of duty, many of whom are voted upon by their peers, the top-25 car owners and drivers in the series.

Earning the Hard Luck Consolation Award in 2002 was veteran driver Greg Stewart of North Carolina. Stewart finished the season 12th in the points standings, but had eight DNFs and setbacks due to mechanical problems and accidents throughout the season. Des pite some hard luck of his own, Texan John Silverthorne was awarded the Most Improved Driver Award. He finished a career best 17th in the final points.

The Special Dedication Extra Mile Award went to rookie Ed Brown, of Florida. Brown finished 19th in driver points, despite racing on a limited budget. The award was representative of his dedication and perseverance to ASA and his racing program.

Three Outstanding Sportsmanship Awards were presented again, with Tom and Wally Gleitsman of WalTom Racing being honored with the owner's award and Howie Lettow collecting the team member's award. Gary St. Amant picked up the driver's spo rtsmanship award for the seventh time in his career.

BFGoodrich Tires was awarded the Sponsor of the Year Award for their promotional activities throughout the season including event title sponsorships at four races. Along with the status as the Official Tires of ASA, BFGoodrich Tires also sponsored "R umble on the River", a major motorsports promotion in Kansas City's developing City Market area, prior to the June 22 ASA event at I-70 Speedway. Director of Motorsports for BFGoodrich Tires Herb Johnson accepted the award.

The Special Event Promotion of the Year Award was presented to the Texor Petroleum Company for the Sept. 21-22 Citgo/MDA 300 at Illiana Motor Speedway. The race was preceded by an elaborate charity program that included a large hospitality setting, coupled with two large big screens, a closed circuit telecast of an entertainment program, a silent auction with dozens of items and a live auction. Over $90,000 was raised that September evening alone with a total of $200,000 collectively garnered for the Muscul ar Dystrophy Association.

The 2002 ASA National Awards Banquet put the wraps on the 20-event season. The 2003 ASA Racing Series season begins on Saturday, March 22 at USA International Speedway in Lakeland (FL).

-asa-

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About this article
Series Stock car
Drivers Bryan Reffner , Johnny Sauter , David Stremme , Joey Clanton , Todd Kluever , Butch Miller , Mike Garvey , Ed Brown , Kyle Busch