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As the impending Spring thaws the ground and erases thoughts of a long offseason, the drivers, promoters, sponsor and fans across North America involved with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series get ready for another year of racing.
This weekend, three historic Southeastern tracks with long-time NASCAR ties will take the green flag. By the end of the month, eight others will join them as NASCAR’s national program for short tracks gets off to a roaring start.
“We’re definitely excited about it,” said Kirk Leone, owner of Southern National Raceway Park in Kenly, N.C. “It doesn’t matter with a racer: If you take a month off, it’s almost too long. Everybody is pretty antsy to get going.
“The weather has been good; Spring is right around the corner. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.”
Southern National begins its season Saturday night with a program highlighted by twin 50-lap Late Model Stock features. Last season, Jamey Caudill used his outstanding performance at the 4/10-mile asphalt oval to capture the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series North Carolina state championship.
Also opening this Saturday are Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C. and Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C.
Caraway, part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series since 1977, will feature a 100-lap Late Model Stock race Saturday. The .455-mile oval will also host the first race of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Saturday, March 22.
Greenville-Pickens kicks off its 63rd season Saturday as Late Model drivers look to add their name to the famous outside retaining wall, which already bears past champions like Ralph Earnhardt, David Pearson, former national champion Dexter Canipe and last year’s track and South Carolina state champion David Roberts.
Opening March 22 will be Concord (N.C.) Motorsports Park, Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, South Boston (Va.) Speedway, and Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Georgia.
The final weekend of the month will include track openers Friday, March 28 at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C., and Saturday, March 29 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Madera (Calif.) Speedway and Hickory Motor Speedway in Newton, N.C.
“I can’t wait,” said Hickory track manager Sherry Clifton. “The racers are out here shaking their cars down and trying to make sure everything is good to go. Opening night is as special as it gets.”
Tucson Raceway Park in Arizona was the first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track to get underway, holding their opening race Feb. 23.