The NASCAR industry turned out in Charlotte, North Carolina for its annual Night of Champions banquet, which celebrates the champions in all six of NASCAR’s touring series in North America and Europe.
Anthony Kumpen (NASCAR Whelen Euro Series), Cayden Lapcevich (NASCAR Pintys Series), Justin Haley (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East), Todd Gilliland (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West), Burt Myers (NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour) and Doug Coby (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour) were all celebrated in Charlotte’s Crown Ballroom during a spectacular event that had plenty of laughs courtesy of the champions’ speeches.
Four-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Coby garnered the most laughs when he joked about the young ages of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and Pintys Series champions. Gilliland, Haley and Lapcevich, all teenagers, are a combined age of 49 years old.
“This is a night for the moms who wrote the speeches for those three,” joked Coby. “Pretty soon those kids will be enjoying the adult things in life like writing their own speeches and graduating middle school.”
On a more serious note, Coby was recognized for becoming the first driver to win three straight NWMT championships, and one of just a handful of drivers to own four series championships.
“It’s a great accomplishment for our team that nobody has ever done before and we’re having fun with that tonight,” said Coby after the event concluded. “That’s what this is all about. At the race track you have to focus and be serious. Tonight is about just having a good time.”
The 19-year-old Haley had what was probably the most sentimental speech of the night. He dedicated the championship to his grandfather who Haley said always encouraged him to chase his dreams.
“I’m just a kid from Indiana with a dream,” Haley said. “Thank you for making my dreams come true.”
Gilliland had the shortest speech of the night. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion made sure to thank his family and his sponsors before heading back to his table.
The 16-year-old champion said giving a speech was the most nervous he’d ever been.
“I was very nervous,” Gilliland said. “That was about all I could do, but we got it done and got all the sponsors in. I never get nervous to race anymore, but man, getting up in front of a ton of people like this is definitely my weakest point.”
The NASCAR Night of Champions concluded a two-day celebration of NASCAR’s touring and weekly champions. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banquet was held on Friday night to celebrate Matt Bowling’s national championship.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com