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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — An experienced race-chasing driver changed course and made a single track his Saturday night destination this year. The decision brought dirt Modified driver Brian Parker a great deal of success.
Parker, 32, of Collinsville, Okla., is the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Rookie of the Year presented by Jostens. He also won the won NASCAR’s Oklahoma championship and state rookie-of-the-year award. Parker leads the track standings at Salina (Okla.) Highbanks Speedway, a .375-mile clay oval, as well. The track’s season comes to a close on Saturday, Sept. 29.
“This is an awesome accomplishment,” Parker said. “Wade Cagle asked me if I’d like to drive his car for points at Salina this year. I’ve been racing for 17 years and never raced for points. I said ‘let’s do it.’ We exceeded our expectations.”
Parker’s title-winning season included seven wins, 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in 19 starts. He earned the national rookie award, 479-451, over Vince Quenneville, out of Brandon, Vt. Quenneville, 46, competes in the Modified division at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, a half-mile paved oval in West Haven, Vt. Parker placed 67th in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Top 500 in national points this year while Quenneville placed 83rd.
Parker will be honored for his multiple titles at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards event scheduled for Friday, Dec. 7 in the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center’s Crown Ballroom at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Parker’s rookie honors came from his effort in Salina’s premier division, but his racing forte is building and driving support-division cars such as Street Stocks, Factory Stocks and Grand Nationals. He said he builds an average of nine PRC Chassis race cars each winter.
When he decided to race fulltime at Salina, he went “all in.” In addition to driving Cagle’s Modified, he drove his own Grand National car and leads that division’s track standings. In that car he placed eighth in the NASCAR Division III points race with a record of three wins, 14 top fives and 19 top 10s in 20 starts.
If all of that work and success wasn’t enough, he also spent the summer mentoring 17-year-old Kinzer Edwards, who drives a Cagle-owned PRC car. Edwards leads the Factory Stock track point standings. If trends hold, Parker stands to be part of three track championships in three divisions.
“All we wanted to do this year was go out and win races,” Parker said. “We didn’t expect this much success.”
Parker said his dad, James, a former drag racer, got him involved in racing at age 16. The younger Parker’s mechanical knowledge was quite limited at the time, but that’s all changed now.
“Dad bought me a 1974 Camaro Factory Stock to keep me out of trouble and give me something to do,” Parker said. “Pretty soon racing was all I ever thought about. Since I showed an interest, dad and I built my second Factory Stock together. Today, I build entire race cars and engines and I know them inside and out. That comes from learning everything as I was doing it and keeping up with changes.”
In addition to his father, Parker also looks up to veteran drivers and chassis builders Eddie Martin and Jason Hughes along with defending Salina Highbanks track and state champion Joe Duvall. Duvall only trails Parker in the track and state standings this season.
“Joe is the guy to beat,” Parker said. “He congratulated me on the titles and told me I’d enjoy the experience.”
Cagle and Parker are assisted in the pits by James Parker and Richard Hanson. Sponsors for the Modified include C&P Racing Supply, CEI Petroleum, T-Bone Shocks and PRC Race Cars.
Parker and his wife Mary have two boys, Hayden and Ethan. In his time away from the track and race shop, he is an engineer for drafting and design of heat recovery steam generators.
A driver’s best 18 results through Sept. 16 were counted toward their state and national point totals, and
the champions are decided on overall point total. Once a driver reaches 18 starts, their total would increase incrementally as they replace some poorer runs with better results.
Under the point 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 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.