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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Brett Moffitt collected plenty of hardware at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway, claiming the 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Light and then taking home the big trophy after leading every lap in winning the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150.
The dominating fashion that he won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East opener also earned the Grimes, Iowa, driver another award. His victory impressed the panel of auto racing writers and NASCAR representatives enough to earn the top spot in the first regular-season edition of the Hunter Index.
Moffitt earned five first-place votes among the 14 panelist.
George Brunnhoelzl III, who has won the first two NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour events, actually collected the most first-place votes with eight. But Moffitt surged ahead in the overall tally by collecting eight second-place votes, and edged Brunnhoelzl, 200-196.
The Hunter Index, which was launched in 2010 on NASCARHomeTracks.com, is a monthly power poll designed to highlight the standout performances in the NASCAR developmental series. This year, the monthly winners will be presented with a trophy designed by Jostens.
Moffitt will be honored prior to the South Boston 150 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway Saturday, April 16.
“Brett Moffitt is the poster child for the NASCAR Home Tracks program,” said David Smith of DavidSmithMotorsports.com. “He developed his pavement ability after spending time on dirt for a few years and now he is the benchmark performer of the K&N Series. At Greenville, he was untouchable.”
Drivers are ranked on their performance over the previous month. The rankings are compiled by a panel of auto racing writers and NASCAR representatives. This season, the panel was expanded to 12 media members from across North American with experience covering NASCAR’s touring and weekly series, along with two voters from NASCAR.
Greenville was Moffitt’s second straight win. He also won the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East finale at Dover International Speedway. In the offseason, he took over the ride for two-time defending champion Ryan Truex and immediately showed on opening weekend he’s a threat to make it three in a row for Michael Waltrip Racing.
In qualifying, Moffitt broke Joey Logano’s track record from 2007, and then proceeded to become the first driver since 2005 to lead every lap in a race.
Brunnhoelzl is also in the midst of a two-race winning streak.
He claimed the season-opener at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., on March 27. The West Babylon, N.Y., driver then made it back-to-back wins this past Sunday when he took advantage of a trouble on the front row on a green-white-checkered finish and went from third to first to claim his eighth career victory.
“Two wins in a row in any series is difficult, but to do it the way Brunnhoelzl has done it is pretty impressive,” said Bob Dillner of SPEED. “He left the Southern Tour to try his hand at the Northern Tour after his championship season, but he has returned now with a splash to regain his dominance of 2009.”
Greg Pursley, who won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West opener at Phoenix International Raceway in February, picked up the other first-place vote and was third overall.
A pair of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champions, Philip Morris and Keith Rocco, took down the fourth and fifth spots, respectively. Three-time champion Morris of Ruckersville, Va., has won the last three Late Model races at South Boston. Defending champion Rocco of Wallingford, Conn., opened the season with an extra-distance win in the SK Modified Division at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl.
Brandon Davis (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series), Jorge Goeters (NASCAR Mexico Series presented by Toyota), Zachary Hausler (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series), Jonathan Gomez (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West) and Coleman Pressley (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East) rounded out the top 10.
Panelists rank their top 15, with first place receiving 15 points, second 14, third 13 and so on.
The Hunter Index is named for the late Jim Hunter, NASCAR’s vice president of corporate communications and a longtime supporter of the weekly and touring series that make up the NASCAR Developmental Series.
The Index was designed as an opportunity to compare the top drivers from the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series all the way up to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. It will also encompass drivers from the NASCAR Mexico Series, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.
In addition to South Boston, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races at Richmond (Va.) International Speedway on Thursday, April 28; the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West is at All American Speedway in Roseville (Calif.) on Saturday, April 16, and at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, on Saturday, April 30; the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour is at South Boston on Saturday, April 16 and Caraway Speedway on Saturday, April 23; the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour begins Sunday, April 10 at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, and then races at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 1; and the NASCAR Mexico Series is at Nuevo Autódromo de Aguascalientes in Aguascalientes on Sunday, May 1.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series continues to open at sanctioned tracks across North American throughout the spring.
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series begins its season on Sunday, May 28 at Mosport Speedway, Bowmanville, Ont.
The Hunter Index is released the first Thursday of each month from April through November.
The panel also included media members: J.A. Ackley, Dick Berggren’s Speedway Illustrated; Joe Chisholm, Race Time Radio on Sirius 98; Shawn Courchesne, Hartford (Conn.) Courant; Bob Dillner, SPEED; Tim Haddock, haddockinthepaddock.blogspot.com; Keith Lair, Los Angeles Newspaper Group; Spencer Lewis, Inside Track Motorsports News; Jorge Mondaca, FOXSports.com; Pat Patterson, SIRIUS NASCAR Ch. 128/ESPN Radio; Len Sammons, Area Auto Racing News; David Smith, DavidSmithMotorsports.com; and Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com. They are joined by Brett Bodine, who is the chairman of the NASCAR Résumé Committee and represents the NASCAR competition side on the panel, and Jason Christley, a NASCAR public relations representative.
|1.||BRETT MOFFITT (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East)|
|Why he’s here: The Grimes, Iowa, driver continued the success he finished 2010 with by leading wire-to-wire in the 2011 season opener. He also added the series’ track record at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway to his resume.|
|2.||GEORGE BRUNNHOELZL III (NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour)|
|Why He’s Here: The West Babylon, N.Y., driver returned to the southern tour full-time and showed he’s a threat to add to his 2009 championship by winning the first two races of the season.|
|3.||GREG PURSLEY (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West)|
|Why He’s Here: The former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion won the West opener for the second time in three seasons, this time doing on the speedway at Phoenix.|
|4.||PHILIP MORRIS (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series)|
|Why He’s Here: After a 13th in the season opener, the Ruckersville, Va., driver has won the last three Late Model features at South Boston (Va.) Speedway to get off to a hot start in his quest for national title No. 4.|
|5.||KEITH ROCCO (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series)|
|Why He’s Here: It would be hard for the Wallingford, Conn., driver to top his 2010 national championship performance, but he’s off to the right start with an SK Modified victory at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl.|
|6.||BRANDON DAVIS (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series)|
|Why He’s Here: Another driver who carried over his momentum from 2010, where he won the Late Model finale at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, Calif. The Henderson, Nev., native swept the season-opening features at the half-mile track.|
|7.||JORGE GOETERS (NASCAR Mexico Series)|
|Why He’s Here: Has the points lead – by virtue of a tiebreaker over two-time defending champion German Quiroga – thanks to a fifth at Monterrey and a victory at San Luis Potosi.|
|8.||ZACHARY HAUSLER (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series)|
|Why He’s Here: The 16-year-old from Tomball, Texas, is off to a scorching start. He’s won all four Fiesta Modified Division features at Houston Motorsports Park, and earned his first win in the A-Line Modified Division at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, Texas, this past weekend.|
|9.||JONATHAN GOMEZ (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West)|
|Why He’s Here: The Twin Falls, Idaho, driver followed up his third-place run at the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in January with a runner-up finish in the West opener at Phoenix in February.|
|10.||COLEMAN PRESSLEY (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East)|
|Why He’s Here: The Ashville, N.C., driver made a late challenge on Moffitt for the lead at Greenville before settling for second in his series debut.|
HONORABLE MENTION: Davin Scites (Caraway Speedway and Motor Mile Speedway/NASCAR Whelen All-American Series), James Civali (NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour), Duane Howard (Grandview Speedway/NASCAR Whelen All-American Series), Anthony Anders (Greenville Pickens Speedway/NASCAR Whelen All-American Series), and Dylan Kwasniewski (Bullring at Las Vegas Speedway/NASCAR Whelen All-American Series).