Whelen All-American Season Takes Green
Saturday Night Racing Kicks Off 2012 Season
Three distinctive NASCAR short tracks open the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season Saturday, Mar. 3.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. The trio of tracks are the first to host official NASCAR point races this year. They are:
• Thunderhill Raceway, a .375-mile D-shaped paved oval in Kyle, Texas. The track joined the series in 2011 and created a two-night circuit for their NASCAR Division I pavement Modifeds with Houston Motorsports Park. The tracks were home to 2011 NASCAR state champion and rookie of the year Zak Hausler.
• Southern National Motorsports Park, a .400-mile paved oval in Kenly, N.C. After being dormant for three years, the speedway rejoins the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series under new ownership. NASCAR Late Models are the track’s NASCAR Division I.
• Odessa Champion Motor Speedway, a .375-mile banked clay oval. The track opens Saturday for its inaugural season as a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track. The west Texas facility is located between Odessa and Midland. NASCAR dirt Modifieds are the track’s NASCAR Division I.
“We are excited to kick off the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president, regional and touring series. “These three tracks lead the way in getting an early start. Moving forward, we have more than 50 tracks scheduled to open during the next eight weeks.”
Texas pavement Modified driver Heath Stewart is ready for opening weekend at Thunderhill Raceway. Stewart, 37, of DeValle, Texas, was a first-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series participant in 2011. He placed second in Thunderhill track points last year, and placed fifth in the state point race. He produced three wins, 10 top-fives and 14 top-10s in 14 starts.
“The consistency of NASCAR weekly racing is an advantage,” Stewart said, “and so are the rewards and recognition.
“Our results last year were encouraging. We were still preparing our car up to opening day last year and barely made it to the first race. It was our first season in a Modified so figuring it out took a few weeks of racing. Then I missed a race due to illness.
“We’re feeling really good about 2012,” Stewart said. “We’ll be at Thunderhill for 100 percent of the races, and we’d like to do the same at Houston Motorsports Park if we can partner with the right sponsor.”
While he was a first-time NASCAR Division I license holder and classified as a NASCAR rookie last year, Stewart is a six-time championship-winning driver in his 19 years of racing. The titles include two in Limited Late Models at Thunderhill, two in two divisions at the defunct Longhorn Speedway, and two in Texas touring series Late Models and Super Late Model competition.
Stewart’s racing efforts are supported by his co-car owner Curtis Drosche and longtime crew chief Russell Vickery.
NASCAR-licensed Division I drivers are eligible to compete for NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championships and point fund awards at the track, state or province, and national levels. Track champions receive customized helmets. State and province champions receive racing uniforms from series sponsor Whelen Engineering.
NASCAR-licensed drivers in each track’s NASCAR-sanctioned support divisions compete for points in the NASCAR Finalist program. The program brings added recognition to drivers in NASCAR Divisions II-V. Points are kept separately for asphalt and dirt tracks.