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It takes a special blend of talent, ambition and perseverance to rise to the top levels in NASCAR racing. But there are opportunities everywhere.
GRASSROOTS RACING: NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES
A network of nearly 60 race tracks across North America comprises the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series – and provides the first step. NASCAR-sanctioned short track races are held on dirt and asphalt tracks of all shapes and sizes. A national championship is awarded, along with U.S. state and Canadian province championships, rookies of the year, and track championships.
In this locally-based series, many drivers race as a weekend hobby on their hometown tracks, while others move up the ladder. Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin all began their careers in this series.
In 2011, NASCAR lowered the minimum age to 14 to run in all NASCAR Whelen All-American Series sanctioned track, further cementing the series status as the foundation for drivers looking to make their way up the NASCAR ladder.
Anthony Anders became the third driver from South Carolina to win the Whelen All-American Series Division I championship in 2014. NASCAR also crowned national champions in Div. II through V. In 2013, Lee Pulliam became just the third driver to win multiple national titles with his second straight championship season. He joined four-time champion Philip Morris and the late Larry Phillips (five titles) in that exclusive class.
Asphalt modifieds (top left), similar to the cars run on the Modified tour, are popular in the northeast; NASCAR has eight sanctioned short-tracks which run on dirt (top right); Late Model Stock Cars (bottom left) are prevalent as the top divisions in the southeast, midwest and west coast; while a number of track run a version of a dirt Modified (bottom right) on aspahlt.
THE NEXT LEVEL: REGIONAL SERIES OFFER DRIVER DEVELOPMENT
• NASCAR K&N Pro Series, East and West
• NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
• NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour
For local short track competitors who aspire to reach NASCAR’s three national series – the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – NASCAR’s regional series are the place to go. These regional series compete on a variety of tracks, providing valuable experience for up-and-coming drivers, while providing special events for local fans.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series, which includes the East and the West (#KNEast and #KNWest), is the top step in NASCAR’s developmental series before drivers make the jump to the three national series. For NASCAR K&N Pro Series racers, new cost-saving technology makes this division a more cost-effective driver development program.
An optional “spec” engine was introduced in 2006. It is designed to be powerful and durable, yet is made from a preciselyspecified set of components that help to keep engine costs down. A composite body, molded from synthetic materials, is also available as an alternative to expensive sheet metal bodies. These items help teams control costs while providing them the opportunity to advance from their hometown short tracks to the next level. In 2007, the minimum age for the touring series was lowered from 18 to 16, allowing for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series to become a proving ground for drivers signed by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams to development deals. The minimum age was lowered to 15 in 2011.
Since 2007, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series has been the key feeder system for the influx of new talent to NASCAR’s three national series, including 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne, Ryan Blaney, Austin and Ty Dillon, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Ryan Truex, Darrell Wallace Jr. and others.
Dylan Kwasniewski won the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship, becoming the first driver to win the NASCAR K&N Pro West and East crowns. Derek Thorn won his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series West title.
NASCAR’s two open-wheel series are found on the East Coast. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (#NWMT) traces its roots back to the very first NASCAR race, held in Daytona Beach, Fla. in 1948.
Many of the early NASCAR race cars were “modified” and the division evolved from there. Today, these unique race cars remain wildly popular along the Eastern Seaboard. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competes across the Northeast while the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour (#NWSMT) races throughout the Southern states.
Many of the early NASCAR race cars were “modified” and the division evolved from there. Today, these unique race cars remain wildly popular among race fans. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competes across the Northeast while the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour races throughout the Southern states.
Nine-time champion Richie Evans, nicknamed the “Rapid Roman” because of his roots in Rome, N.Y., was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2012. In May of 2015, Evans' long-time rival, Jerry Cook, a six-time Modified champion also from Rome, was elected into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
In 2014, Doug Coby took home his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship, while Andy Seuss finally earned his first NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour title after finishing in the top five in points each of the previous five years -- including two runner-up seasons.
• NASCAR Pinty's Series
• NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series
• NASCAR Whelen Euro Series
NASCAR’s international initiative has helped bring the exciting and fanfriendly entertainment of NASCAR stock-car racing to Canada, Mexico and Europe. These series also provide new opportunities to international drivers and teams to showcase their talents in the NASCAR system.
The NASCAR Pinty's Series (#NASCARPintys), which features cars similar to those used on the former CASCAR Super Series, operates throughout Canada with a schedule from May to October. [right]
The NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series (#NASCARPEAK) features cars similar to those used in Late Model classes at short tracks in the U.S., with fiberglass composite bodies and spec engines. [bottom right]
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (#NWES) enters its fourth season under the NASCAR banner in 2015. While competing primarily on historic European road courses such as Brands Hatch (England), Valencia (Spain), Magione (Italy) and Zolder (Belgium), also competes on the first purpose-built oval for NASCAR stock cars in Tours, France, in addition to a inaugural race at Venray in Holland. [bottom left]
All three international championships came down to the wire in 2014.
LP Dumoulin won his first NASCAR title by edging JR Fitzpatrick by just three points for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series crown. Anthony Kumpen of Belgium knocked off two-time champion Ander Vilarino by just one point in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship. In the second year of the Desafío – Mexico’s five-race playoff – Abraham Calderon claimed his first NASCAR championship by nine points over Ruben Garcia Jr.
2014 MEXICO SERIES CHAMPION: Abraham Calderón, Monterrey, Mexico | NMxS OVERVIEW & HISTORY | CHAMPIONS
2014 WHELEN EURO SERIES CHAMPION: Anthony Kumpen, Hasselt, Belgium | NWES OVERVIEW & HISTORY | CHAMPIONS
An overarching industry initiative to spotlight NASCAR's rising stars before they reach the sport’s top levels, the NASCAR Next program (#NASCARNext) has helped identify some of the sport’s top young talent.
“This program has made great strides in a short time,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR vice president, industry services. “The evolution of NASCAR Next builds on that success with the influx of young, talented drivers continuing throughout all of NASCAR’s racing series. This program provides a platform to help foster their growth within our sport, and introduce these young and talented drivers to NASCAR fans who will likely be hearing more about them in years to come.”
Now in its fifth season, the career résumé of NASCAR Next alumni is impressive, highlighted by Chase Elliott’s 2014 NASCAR XFINITY Series championship, Kyle Larson’s 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, and Cole Custer’s September 2014 win at New Hampshire in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, making him the youngest winner in NASCAR national series history.
Of the 28 drivers previously selected for the program, 21 have raced in one of NASCAR’s three national series (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series), and 11 are competing full-time there in 2015.
The team was assembled through a thorough process that included separate nominating and voting panels. Drivers must be between the ages of 15-25, have tangible and expressed goals in eventual competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and possess the skillset to realize that goal.
Additionally, each driver in NASCAR Next must be actively competing in a NASCAR touring or weekly series – NASCAR K&N Pro Series East or West, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, NASCAR Mexico Series, NASCAR Euro Series or NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitors also are eligible providing they are in the first full-time season in their respective series.
2015: NASCAR’s Future is Bright … and Young | 2014: Who’s Next? Most Likely One Of These | 2013: Sport’s Young Rising Stars Spotlighted | 2012: NASCAR's Next Generation Of Stars Are On Deck | 2011: Another Wave of Stars Are Knocking At The Door
The 2015-16 NASCAR Next class consists of Rico Abreu, Nicole Behar, Kyle Benjamin, James Bickford, William Byron, Cole Custer, Ruben Garcia Jr., Austin Hill, Jesse Little, Dylan Lupton, John Hunter Nemechek and Dalton Sargeant.
Drive for Diversity is the industry’s leading development program for minority and female drivers and crew members. Managed by Max Siegel Inc., the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program (#D4D2015) currently supports drivers in two of NASCAR’s developmental series – the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
Drive for Diversity also supports crew member candidates through a year-long pit crew training program. Crew members have gone on to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Headquartered in Concord, N.C., Rev Racing, owned by Max Siegel, brings together championship caliber executives, competition staff and equipment in a unique academy-style environment. Rev Racing currently operates four NASCAR K&N Pro Series East teams and two NASCAR Whelen All-American Series teams. In addition, Rev Racing manages a youth racing initiative that allows kids ages 8-14 to compete in the INEX Bandolero and INEX Legend cars. The team also trains aspiring female and minority pit crew athletes through the Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development program presented by Sprint.
The NASCAR-Approved Spec Engine is an alternative for competitors in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. It is also an option for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at select tracks.
During the 2012 season over 350 Spec engines ran in competition across all the series and tours. Combined they produced 36 victories, 207 top-five finishes and 362 top ten finishes; with teams reporting an average annual cost savings of between 30-40% when compared to buying, maintaining and running “built” engine options.