DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Consistency was the key in 2015 for Nick Heywood as he repeated as NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion at Airborne Park Speedway.
Heywood secured another title behind two wins, 15 top fives and 18 top 10s across 19 feature races in the J&S Steel Modified division at Airborne. It was his fourth-consecutive crown at the .4-mile asphalt oval in the Adirondack Park region of Plattsburgh, New York, and second under the NASCAR banner.
“Competition wise, we had a lot stiffer competition this year,” Heywood said. “I only had two wins, but had a consistent year and only one DNF.”
Heywood took home five checkered flags in 2014 to garner the Jostens National Rookie of the Year as a first-year Whelen All-American Series Division I license holder when Airborne joined the NASCAR program. This season, the native of Plattsburgh relied on regular top finishes to retain the track championship.
His two triumphs bookended the campaign as he won the opener on May 2 and the back end of a season-finale doubleheader on Sept. 5.
“We started off really strong and just stayed consistent and held our ground,” Heywood said. “I think we only dropped out of the points lead once or twice, but consistency propelled us back up.”
An owner/driver, Heywood piloted his No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet to a 96-point advantage in the division’s final standings over Jason Durgan, despite Durgan’s two more victories. With his father, Randy, serving as the team’s crew chief, Heywood finished fourth in the Whelen All-American Series New York state standings and 21st nationally.
The fourth-consecutive Airborne title overall for Heywood came with some history, as it marked the first time in the track’s 62-year history that a driver accomplished the feat.
“They started talking in early August about how nobody had ever done it,” Heywood said. “It added a little bit of pressure. There’s been some pretty big names that have come through Airborne during the years so to be the first two win four in a row feels great.”
It remains to be seen whether Heywood will have an opportunity to extend the record. Airborne is currently up for sale or lease, leaving the champion unsure of his 2016 plans.
“I don’t know if we’re going to do any championship hunting,” Heywood said. “We’re probably going to do a little traveling. We’re going to try Autodrome St-Eustache in Canada, and maybe try dirt racing as well.”
Like Airborne, St-Eustache (Quebec) also promotes dirt-style modifieds on asphalt, which provides Heywood with a natural alternative only 90 minutes from his hometown. St-Eustache is a NASCAR-sanctioned weekly track as well.
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.
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.
Airborne Park will hold its 2015 Banquet of Champions and recognize Heywood’s accomplishments on Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Rainbow Wedding and Banquet Hall in Altona, New York.
Heywood will also be honored for his Airborne Park crown 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.
“We had a great time last year so we’re going back down and have another good time I’m sure,” Heywood said.
-NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications Press Release. Photo credit: Dave Brown