DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — There is something to be said about the hands-on learning experience of working on a car paying off in the driver’s seat.
In his second full season driving a late model at California’s Irwindale Speedway, 19-year-old Trevor Huddleston is translating his time in the shop to multiple trips to Victory Lane. In the process, the third-generation driver from Agoura Hills, California, is on the fast track to add another trophy to the family’s legacy.
“Once I got to working full-time in the shop – not just understanding how to drive, but the mechanics of the race car – it helped my skill levels increase,” said Huddleston.
The results: three wins, three seconds and a third in seven starts on the graduated banked half-mile near Los Angeles. Huddleston has already built a 64-point lead over past champion Mike Johnson, and leads Eric Richardson of Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield atop the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series California standings.
Huddleston is ranked 61st in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standings.
His points per race average of 34.714, however, is third overall behind Jacob Goede of Minnesota’s Elko Speedway (35.333) and national points leader Keith Rocco (35.111).
Rocco has eight wins, 17 top fives and 20 top 10s in 22 starts driving in the modified division of Connecticut’s three asphalt ovals: New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Rocco bounced back from a 16th-place finish at Stafford Friday to win from his 12th-place starting spot at New London-Waterford on Saturday and increase his points total to 632.
Pulliam, who has 572 points on the strength of 12 wins, 21 top fives and 23 top 10s, finished 16th in the extra-distance late model race at North Carolina’s Caraway Speedway. Pulliam has also competed at Virginia’s South Boston Speedway, Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, and Langley Speedway in Hampton.
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.
Ryan Preece (Stafford, Thompson and New York’s Riverhead Raceway) is third with 683 points, followed closely by Kres VanDyke with 524. VanDyke, who has raced at Caraway and Motor Mile in addition to his regular tracks of Kingsport Speedway in Tennessee and Lonesome Pine Speedway in Virginia, is tied with Pulliam for the national lead with 12 wins.
Matt Bowling (Caraway, South Boston, Motor Mile and Langley) rounds out the top five.
Division I rookie Thomas Tillison, who runs the dirt tracks of Salina Highbanks and Flint Creek in Oklahoma, moved up to sixth. Zeke Shell (Kingsport, Lonesome Pine), Josh Berry (Motor Mile, South Boston, Langley, South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway, and North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway), Ronny McCarty (Kingsport) and David Roberts (South Carolina’s Anderson Speedway and Greenville) complete the top 10.
With 19 races on the schedule, Huddleston has little margin of error to climb the national ranks.
But contending for championships is nothing new to his team.
Trevor’s father, Tim Huddleston, has three late model championships at Irwindale to his credit. In addition, Tim Huddleston’s High Point Racing has won titles at Irwindale with Rod Johnson Jr. and Brandon Davis, as well as fielding cars for current NASCAR national series drivers Cole Custer and Dylan Lupton.
“I have a great group of guys and we're working at it real hard,” Trevor Huddleston said. “I definitely knew I had the car and the crew to get me to Victory Lane. I just knew I had to be in the right place in the right time and work on my driving. And it all came together.”
Huddleston, who goes to school school part-time at California’s Moorpark Community College, started the season strong with a first and second on opening night in April. With a sizeable lead in the track standings nearly halfway through the season, Huddleston knows the importance of staying focused.
“We can't beat ourselves now,” Huddleston said. “We have to make sure everything mechanical wise is up to par. I re-do things all the time to make sure they’re done.
Huddleston is helped by crew chief Grant Phillips, who has been with him since he started at age 12 at Irwindale in bandelaros, as well as Will Kozak and Reese Ticotin. The team is sponsored by Justice Brothers, world-wide car care product based out of Duarte, California, and Performance NAPA Auto Care. They have a Chevrolet late model from Five Star Race Car Bodies.
The Whelen All-American Series points season will run through Sunday, Sept. 20.
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 IMC Release. Photo Credit: