Daytona Beach, FL – The learning curve for Thomas Tillison Jr. at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I level has been short.
Designated a Division I rookie this year, Tillison has already posted four victories in just nine dirt modified starts between Salina Highbanks and Flint Creek Speedways and leads the Whelen All-American Series standings for the state of Oklahoma.
Tillison, from Wellston, Oklahoma, is also the highest-ranking Jostens Rookie of the Year contender in the nation. He sits 17th in this week’s Whelen All-American Series Top 500 standings thanks to the four wins and four more top-five finishes behind the wheel of his No. 85 United Cellular Services/Bell Gas Chevrolet with a Hughes Racing chassis.
Tillison is a newcomer to the Whelen All-American Series after competing in touring dirt modifieds previously. With Salina already in place as a weekly NASCAR track, and with the addition of Flint Creek to the program for 2015, Tillison decided to take a different path and chase track titles for the first time this year.
“I’ve really liked the attitude of the tracks,” Tillison said. “The contingency sponsors and the support that NASCAR gives is really something that we felt showed an appreciation to the local tracks, and it’s something we wanted to go out and support his year.”
The Sooner State standings are actually topped by a pair of rookies. Tillison has 298 points and leads the track standings at Salina while Steve Holzkamper has tallied 259 Division I points and is the championship leader at Flint Creek.
Track and state championships are definitely on Tillison’s radar, but he also has greater hopes.
“We also have our sights set on a national championship,” Tillison said. “We’re racing at tracks that have car counts that can possibly support that.”
Tillison’s first impression of NASCAR weekly racing has been more than positive.
“We really appreciate what NASCAR does at the tracks we’re racing at, and we appreciate the fan base at Salina and Flint Creek that support the racing,” Tillison said. “The owners and promoters of the tracks make you feel welcome. They want you to come race there, and they appreciate your dedication to coming to put on a show for the fans.”
Keith Rocco retains the overall lead in the Whelen All-American Series national standings, this week by 60 points (596-536) on Lee Pulliam. Rocco, from Wallingford, Connecticut, has posted six wins and 15 top fives in 19 starts between Nutmeg State ovals New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Following Pulliam among the nation’s elite are Ryan Preece (522), Kres VanDyke (490) and David Roberts (399). VanDyke and Pulliam lead Division I with 11 and 10 feature wins, respectively.
Matt Bowling, Trey Gibson, Ronnie McCarthy, Wayne Hale and Zeke Shell round out the top 10 in the national standings.
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.