DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Nevada NASCAR champion Scott Gafforini and Major League Baseball’s crown-bearing San Francisco Giants don’t have much in common on the surface, but there’s at least one striking similarity.
The Giants have gained an anecdotal reputation as being the team to beat in even numbered years. They won the World Series in 2010, `12 and again this October. Gafforini is following a similar path as the 2008, `12 and current NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion of Nevada.
The Las Vegas native posted six wins and 12 top-five finishes in 13 super late model starts at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to secure a record third crown in The Silver State. He was previously tied with Dustin Ash for the most state titles.
“It was a real good season,” said Gafforini, whose worst finish was seventh. “It was enjoyable. It wasn’t really high-maintenance or high-stress. We just showed up and had a good time, and we were able to pull off a championship. It was quite wonderful.”
The numbers Gafforini racked up behind the wheel of his No. 49 J&S Automotive Toyota also garnered a record fifth NASCAR track championship at The Bullring this year. With one exception, Gafforini’s track titles have also followed the even year pattern of 2006, `08, `11, `12 and `14. The 47-year-old had been tied with Dick Cobb with four Bullring NASCAR championships prior to the year.
“To achieve something like that in one’s lifetime is just amazing,” Gafforini said. “We’re looking forward to maybe some more championships, but five is absolutely wonderful.”
In putting his fifth title in perspective, Gafforini reflected on the previous season as well as the recently completed campaign.
“Last year we had our son, so I wasn’t pursuing the points championship, I was just going out and having a good time and seeing if I could get to every race” Gafforini said. “This year running for my brother-in-law John Keller with his engines and helping his business out – J&S Automotive – gave us the ability to go to every race and make sure the car is 100-percent competitive.”
An assistant sales manager at a Las Vegas Toyota dealership during the week, Gafforini makes it a point to enjoy his weekends at The Bullring, a .375-mile oval on the grounds of LVMS.
“You always go out to compete and win, but if you don’t have fun doing it, what’s the sense in trying to do it,” Gafforini pondered. “I see a lot of teams that are high-strung and not having a good time. It is NASCAR, but you’ve got to remember, this is local Saturday night racing.”
Gafforini certainly doesn’t say that to discredit the Whelen All-American Series’ place in the hierarchy of stock car racing, however. He’s quite proud of what he does and what he has accomplished.
“To win a local championship is very special,” Gafforini said. “Everybody has dreams of going to [NASCAR Sprint] Cup and stuff like that, but to be your local hometown hero in the grassroots of racing is just wonderful.”
In addition to motors from J&S Automotive, Gafforini also received support this year from Schaeffer Oils and a Las Vegas 7 Eleven store. Vince Bianchi served as the crew chief while his father, Roger, and wife, Amy, were also integral parts of the team that intends to make another run in 2015.
“We plan on defending the championship,” Gafforini said. “We did two-in-a-row a few years ago and we’ll see if we can do it again.”
Gafforini will be recognized alongside each of the track and state champions from across North America at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 12 in the Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
-NASCAR IMC Release. Photo Credit: Jeff Speer/Las Vegas Motor Speedway