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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Matt Corliss is chasing his first career Super Stock Division championship at Kalamazoo (Mich.) Speedway.
Corliss, 38, of Kalamazoo is an 11-year veteran of the division and has finished as high as fifth in points at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track. With only three point races remaining for the division on the .375-mile high-banked oval, he’s focused more on top-five finishes than he is on winning his first feature of the season.
“Getting a big feature win trophy isn’t as important as winning the championship for my car owner Eddie Pobuda,” Corliss said.
A longtime Kalamazoo car owner, Pobuda, 78, of Bangor, Mich., is overdue for his first title. Corliss has driven for him for 11 years.
Corliss is the track’s leading driver in the asphalt NASCAR Finalist Division III point standings. His racing record in nine starts is five top-fives and nine top-10s. He’s ranked 54th in this week’s NASCAR Finalist Division III standings.
The NASCAR Finalist program recognizes drivers who compete in support divisions at NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks. With Division I being each track’s top division, the NASCAR Finalist program highlights drivers competing in each track’s Division II, III, IV and V.
NASCAR Finalist Division leaders on asphalt tracks include Division II, Gary Ledbetter Jr., Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. and Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C.; Division III, John Ketron, Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway; Division IV, Glenn Colvin, Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl; and Division V, Danny Field, Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway.
Dirt track NASCAR Finalist Division leaders include Division II, Jesse Sobbing, I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb.; Division III, Brad Derry, I-80 and Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa; Division IV, Wayne McAtee, Adams County; and Division V, Bill Gibson, Adams County.
Corliss has won some features since joining Pobuda in what was originally known as Limited Late Models at Kalamazoo in 2000. He’s finished as high as second place in feature event competition this year and leads defending track champion Buddy Head by 31 points.
Corliss has raced almost exclusively at Kalamazoo since mid-2005.
With the Kalamazoo track’s sweeping turns banked at 14 degrees and short straight-aways, Super Stocks turn laps at an average race speed of nearly 95 mph. Feature event fields average more than 20 cars each week.
“The competition is tough and I get so race with some of the coolest guys out there every week,” Corliss said. “But I’ve got this nervous feeling being the point leader because winning a championship is so hard. This is a pretty big deal so things are pretty intense.”
Crewmen on the black No. 3 Chevrolet include the owner’s sons Mike, Dave and Steve Pobuda, son-in-law Steve Hazard and Carl Barry. Primary sponsors include Q3 Technologies, J.J. Steel, Valentine’s Heating & Cooling and Wayland Motors.
Corliss, a Union Local 357 Plumber and Pipe Fitter, and his wife Jodie have four children between then including daughters Taylor, 18 and Jessica, 10, and sons Matthew Jr. and Ryan, who are both 13.
“I was going to race part time this year because the kids are on traveling Little League teams,” Corliss said. “After starting the season so strong, I stuck with the racing and still made most of the games.”
The NASCAR Finalist Program began in 2010 as a way to recognize the accomplishments throughout all of the racing divisions at NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks.
A NASCAR-licensed driver’s best 14 finishes are counted toward their final point total for the year. Points are kept separately for dirt and asphalt tracks.
Under the points structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner receives two points for every car in the event up to 20 cars. Second place receives two fewer points, and so on through the field. Race winners receive an additional five bonus points. For example, if 20 cars are in the field, the winner receives 45 points, second place 38 and third, 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner receives 35 points, second 28 and third, 26.
At the end of the eason, the top three drivers in the four asphalt and four dirt NASCAR Finalist Divisions will be recognized at the 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet at the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, Dec. 9.