Philip Morris received a phone call Wednesday afternoon that he's been waiting for all summer long. When Morris answered his phone, NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell was on the other end to congratulate him on his record-tying fifth NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship.
After a 23-win season competing in Late Model Stock Cars throughout the Southeast region, Morris has officially been named the 2018 NWAAS National Champion. His fifth career national championship ties him with the late Larry Phillips, who won five titles in an eight-year span.
Unlike Phillips, Morris had six years separating his fourth and fifth national championships. After winning his fourth title in 2011, Morris stepped away from full-time racing before returning in 2016. With much of his focus on winning a national championship in 2018, he accomplished his goal in dominant fashion.
Morris' 23 victories came at a variety of tracks throughout the Southeast including South Boston Speedway (VA), Langley Speedway (VA), Dominion Raceway (VA), and Southern National Motorsports Park (NC). He also competed at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC) and Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) this season.
"Twenty-three wins is not too shabby for this day and age, and to do it in 33 or 34 starts is impressive,” Morris acknowledged following a recent race at South Boston Speedway (VA). “It would be nice to be mentioned in the same sentence as Larry Phillips. If we do get the honor it’s not about bettering him. I am a Larry Phillips fan because he was a racer like we are here in Virginia. I’m dripping in sweat and that’s what I want to be doing, and I am sure he was the same way.”
Wisconsin Late Model racer Steve Carlson finished second in the national standings with nine victories at Madison Int'l Speedway and LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Connecticut Modified driver Keith Rocco finished third with 10 victories in 22 starts at Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Virginia Late Model ace Peyton Sellers (South Boston & Langley) and another Wisconsin racer, Nick Panitzke, completed the top five.
With a fifth national championship now on his resume, Morris will shift his focus towards the ValleyStar 300, the crown jewel event for Late Model Stock Cars at Martinsville Speedway on September 29.
-Story by Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com