Daytona Beach, FL— Someday when Wayne Hale decides to give up driving a race car and looks back on the 2015 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season, he’s likely to be smiling.
“Why?” one might ask. There are many reasons.
First, Hale and his 19-year old son Cody, paired up to compete for the full season for the first time in nearly a decade and finished in the top-10 a perfect 18-for-18 at Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Virginia.
Second, would be winning his first NASCAR championship at Lonesome Pine and also finishing in the top-five in the Tennessee state standings thanks to his performance in where LPR.
Add to that compiling 37 top-10 finishes in 39 combined starts between LPR and Kingsport Speedway and LPR working together with Cody.
Any way you look at it, it’s a performance the second-generation driver will not soon forget.
“We had an unbelievable season and it was really special,” Hale added. “This year was the first year we decided to run the full season at both tracks and we had a great year at each.”
While Hale won a track title at Lonesome Pine back in 1992 in the Limited Late Model division, this is the first NASCAR championship for the 46 year-old native of Bluff City, Tennessee.
“I’ve always been around racing growing up watching my dad and uncle race and I decided to give it a try back in 1998,” said Hale. “To be able to win and run so well with it basically being just my son and myself working on the car each week is something that means a lot to me.”
Consistency paid off for Hale as he scored just two wins while Kres Van Dyke collected 12 during the 2015 campaign. The difference was top-10 finishes in 18 of 19 races for Hale.
He only missed one race all season long at Lonesome Pine and edged Van Dyke by just three points in the final standings (494-491) to win the title.
“The key was being able to get all of those top 10’s and being there every week,” Hale added. “Kres is a tough competitor and he also had a good year, but being consistent every week made the difference for us and now we can celebrate.”
Kingsport and Lonesome Pine also featured a combined performance points championship and Hale secured that honor as well when he finished ahead of NASCAR Tennessee state and Kingsport track champion Ronnie McCarty and Van Dyke for the crown.
“This was something else to be very proud of as we were able to win that combined championship as well, and that’s something I appreciate Cody’s help with all year long,” Hale said. “Thanks to my sponsors A-1 Transmission, E.A. Millers Trucking, Millers Automotive, Performance Warehouse and Signs by Roach, we can all celebrate this winter.”
Hale also wanted to thank everyone associated at the tracks in giving him a place to race this season.
“I also want to let Karen Tunnell, Keith Stiltner, Ervin Stiltner and Chase Brashears know how much I appreciated all of their hard work in giving me and the rest of the drivers a place to race this year and working hard every week,” Hale added.
Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 58 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participated in 2015.
Champions are determined by the best 14 finishes at tracks within the respective state or province.
Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars are among the many showcases for Whelen products.
Hale will also be honored for his Lonesome Pine Raceway track championship along with other track and state/province champions from across North America as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 11 at the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.
After Hale celebrates his NASCAR title in Charlotte before the holidays, he and his girlfriend Carol will welcome a son to join Cody and his sisters Kendra and Brooklyn to his family.
“This was a great year and we can wait for next year,” Hale said. “We’re going to give it another try next season and when I’m done racing, we’re going to get Cody in the car and see what he can do and keep it in the family.”
-NASCAR IMC Press Release. Photo Credit: Chase Brashears Photo