DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Winning races and postseason honors is nothing new for Kingsport, Tennessee native Ronnie McCarty. What’s new for the veteran driver is he’ll get to celebrate this year in Charlotte.
McCarty enjoyed one of his strongest seasons in his career with the end result winning his first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track and Tennessee championship.
“We had a great season and you couldn’t ask for anything more as a driver after the year we just had at Kingsport,” McCarty said. “We had a close battle with Kres (Van Dyke) all season long and it was special to be able to hold him off and score the championships.”
McCarty enjoyed a strong season finishing with six wins, 17 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes in 21 starts.
“We got off to a good start and things kept going our way all season long and we had some good luck, but we also ran very strong every week,” McCarty said. “We didn’t finish below eighth-place all season long until the final race of the season when we had a problem with a wheel bearing and finished 12th – our worst finish of the season.”
McCarty was able to edge Van Dyke in the Tennessee standings by just seven points (510-503) and won the Kingsport track title by 38 points (574-536).
U.S. state and province champions are determined by the best 18 finishes at tracks within the respective state or province.
“We have a lot of great Late Model drivers at Kingsport and it’s a challenging race track,” McCarty said. “To win my first track and state titles there featuring the caliber of drivers we beat really means something special.”
Coming from a racing family the 29 year-old Kingsport, Tennessee native always felt he would get in a race car at some point in his life. He started out in Legends cars before moving up to full-sized stock cars roughly 10 years ago.
“I have always been around racing as my pawpaw, Tom Ketron, raced Late Models back in the day and my mom Gina raced go-karts for a while,” said McCarty. “I’ve been racing off and on for about 10 years and this is the best season I’ve ever had by a long shot.”
McCarty has a dedicated crew led by his cousin Mark Ketron who serves as crew chief and also used to compete in Late Models at Kingsport. He also credits the support of his fiancée Patricia Dygert in helping him have such a great season behind the steering wheel.
“I’ve been blessed to have Patricia in my life and she’s always supported my racing,” McCarty said. “Mark has done a great job and I also want to thank Mike Loyd, Kevin Street, and Kellie Hopper for working so hard every week to give me a great race car to drive.”
McCarty also mentioned sponsors who helped get his No. 5 Ford to the track ready to compete for wins each week.
“I just want to thank Ron’s Mobile Homes, Corner’s Nest Antique Mall, LUV Homes of Kingsport, A-1 Bonding of Kingsport and Charlie Long Race Engines for their support all season long,” he said. “Without their support we wouldn’t be able to celebrate a championship next month.”
McCarty will be honored for his Kingsport Speedway track championship along with other track and state/province champions from across North America as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 11 at the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.
McCarty will also celebrate his Kingsport Speedway track title at the combined awards banquet for Kingsport Speedway and Lonesome Pine Raceway one week later on December 19 at the Meadow View Convention Center in Kingsport.
“We’re looking forward to coming to Charlotte and celebrating with all the other track and state champions,” McCarty said. “Then we’ll come back home and celebrate with everyone in our hometown. December is going to be a special month and a memorable one for our family, friends and teammates.”
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 participated in 2015.
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 are among the many showcases for Whelen products.
-NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications Press Release. Photo credit: Randall Perry