DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — As the season nears the midway point in the battle for the 2015 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship, some familiar names now sit first and second in the standings and judging by the results so far this season, this challenge could go down to the wire.
Two-time national champ Lee Pulliam remains atop the national standings for the fourth consecutive week, but a former champion is closing in on his attempt at a third title.
Keith Rocco, the 2010 Whelen All-American Series champion, picked up another win last weekend to skip past Kres VanDyke and move into second place in the standings – and more importantly – slice 61 points off of Pulliam’s lead over him just one week ago.
One of the key’s to Rocco’s early success this season is his ability to win at all three tracks in his home state of Connecticut. Rocco has already won at Stafford Speedway, Thompson Speedway Motorsport Park and New London-Waterford Speedbowl. It has been his success at Stafford, though that has helped make the biggest difference.
“We struggled at Stafford last year with only two wins, this year we’ve already matched that,” Rocco said. “The biggest thing for our team is we have to win at all three tracks we race at. And we’ve been able to do that this year.”
One of the things that has also made a difference this season at Stafford for Rocco is a new car.
“We decided to put a Northeast Troyer chassis on one of our cars,” Rocco said. “We raced with a similar car last year and had some success, so we decided to do that this year and it has paid off for us so far.”
Rocco has five wins and 12 top fives and 14 top 102 in 14 starts in his asphalt Modified, for 471 points.
Pulliam, who races an asphalt Late Model, has eight wins, 17 top fives and 19 top 10s in 20 starts at Virginia’s Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, South Boston Speedway and Langley Speedway in Hampton, in addition to Caraway Speedway in Sophia, North Carolina. He has 492 points.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I drivers are ranked by their best 18 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of – up to 18 cars – and three points for a win, with an additional two points available if the driver starts 10th or lower.
The Whelen All-American Series points season will run through Sunday, Sept. 20.
VanDyke, who runs an asphalt Late Model at Tennessee’s Kingsport Speedway and Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coburn, Virginia, had 10 wins, 18 top fives and 18 top 10s in 20 starts for 456 points.
Connecticut’s Ryan Preece (Stafford, Thompson and New York’s Riverhead Raceway) and South Carolina’s David Roberts (South Carolina’s Anderson Speedway and Greenville Pickens Speedway) round out the top five.
Wayne Hale (Kingsport, Lonesome Pine), Matt Howling (Langley, Motor Mile and South Boston), Kyle Barnes (Kingsport, Lonesome Pine), Trey Gibson (Greenville Pickens and Anderson) and Greg Edwards (Langley, North Carolina’s East Carolina Speedway) complete the top 10.
Rocco, who won at Waterford over the weekend, is not ready to get caught up in points racing.
“I honestly just focus on winning every race I enter and if you do that the points will take care of themselves,” Rocco added. “If we stay in contention by winning more races it will make for a fun summer.”
The top three in the national standings, as well as state and province champions, track champions, top finishers in the Div. II-V and special award winners, will be honored at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards in December.
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 participate.
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 across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.
-NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com