As we close the chapter on the decade that was in short track racing, Speed51 will be taking an in-depth look at the moments and storylines that defined the decade for a variety of disciplines within the short track ranks. Today, we begin our journey with a look at what occurred within the Late Model Stock Car ranks.
For eight out of 10 years, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion came from the Southeast with drivers chasing points in the Late Model Stock Car ranks. The ability to have so many close tracks in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina allowed drivers to mathamaticly chase points every week.
After the decade was complete, Lee Pulliam won four titles, Philip Morris scored a pair of titles, and Matt Bowling and Anthony Anders each chipped in with one.
Another part of the region that makes the racing great is the fantastic backdrops the Late Model Stocks get to race at. Hickory Motor Speedway produced nine champions in nine seasons in North Carolina. Greenville-Pickens Speedway and Myrtle Beech Speedway also provided great action with early season shows to fall classics such as the annual Myrtle Beach 400 weekend.
On the weekly front, Peyton Sellers won three straight titles at South Boston to make his total four in the decade. Matt Bowling had three along the way. Philip Morris pushed his win totals higher at both Motor Mile Speedway and South Boston
The UARA-Stars Late Model Tour was the home for non-NASCAR touring drivers during the early part of the decade before the tour ceased operations prior to the 2014 season. Despite only winning one championship between the two of them, Brennan Poole and Ronnie Bassett, Jr. were two drivers who racked up more wins than any other driver in the those few years. Four different drivers won championships as another touring series was brewing in the region.
A one-year hiatus took place for regional touring stairs before the birth of the CARS Late Model Stock Tour. Some amazing young stars, great racing and epic point battles have pushed this series to new limits. Josh Berry has 18 career wins and a champion, while Deac McCaskill, Brayton Haws and Bobby McCarty (2) added their names to the record books.
The series' marquee race was the Old North Sate Nationals held at Orange County Speedway in 2019. Lee Pulliam captured $30,000 for the win.
Following the announcement of the Old North State Nationals, the traditional Martinsville 300 race was bumped up in purses and bonus money to remain the highest-paying race in the region. 2019 was a promising sign of things to come for Late Model Stock Cars in the southeast.
Notable Drivers of the Decade: How can you not think that Lee Pulliam is the best or among the best of the decade? His NASCAR crowns and success in the bigger shows made him the man to beat. Josh Berry ended the decade with a unbelievable performance at Martinsville. There are several others like Peyton Sellers and Philip Morris, who did not compete every year during the decade, that helped make it so interesting along the way.
Notable Races of the Decade: There were a lot of good races and finishes along the way. Among the races that stood out was the Mike Looney underdog win at Martinsville after he fended off Lee Pulliam in the final laps. Then there was the Denny Hamlin Showdown at Richmond where Hamlin came from shotgun on the field to lead only the final lap and win the race.
What was your favorite moment of the decade in Late Model Stock Car racing? Let us know by commenting on our Five Star Race Car Bodies Facebook page or by sending a Tweet to @speed51dotcom.
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51