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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Matt Bowling has led the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings the entire year.
He needs to lead one more week to achieve short-track racing's ultimate prize.
The 22-year-old from Ridgeway, Virginia, picked up a pair of wins this past weekend and heads into the final weekend of championship points races with a 13-point edge on Connecticut's Keith Rocco and 17 over Wisconsin's Ty Majeski.
And Bowling will look to put the finishing touches on his title run at his home track. Bowling will race in the twin 75-lap features Saturday night at Virginia's South Boston Speedway, where he's won the Late Model Stock Car division championship in 2012 and 2015. He has a five-point lead over two-time track champion and 2005 national champion Peyton Sellers.
Eight of Bowling's 14 wins have come at South Boston.
A win in either of those races would give Bowling a seemingly mathematically insurmountable lead in the standings.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I drivers are ranked by their best 18 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of – up to 18 cars – and three points for a win, with an additional two points available if the driver starts 10th or lower.
The final day for points to count toward NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championships is Sunday, Sept. 18.
Bowling isn't the only driver closing in on a national title. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championships for Div. II through Div. V will also be determined this weekend. The drivers in those divisions are ranked by their best 14 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events.
It's a four-way race in Division II. Michael Ostdiek, who runs in the Big 8 Division at Minnesota's Elko Speedway, and Chris Hawkins, who races in the B Modified Division at Oklahoma's Salina Highbanks Speedway, are tied with 460 points. Ostdiek holds the tiebreaker edge, by virtue of wins, 4-2. Patrick Thomas, who races in the Sportsman Division at Florida's New Smyrna Speedway, and Elko's Dylan Moore are just six points back. In fact, the top seven are separated by just 27 points, leaving the door wide-open.
Ryan Jenkins has collected 10 wins in 28 starts in the B-Modified Divisions at Nebraska's I-80 Speedway and Iowa's Adams County Speedway to build a 32-point lead over second-place Kyle Davis of Salina in Division III. Jenkins, 16, also leads the UNOH Youth Achievement Award national standings, recognizing the top drivers in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series who are 17-years-old and younger.
Nathan Campbell holds a four-point edge on Wayne Burroughs Jr., while Kevin Lacy is six points behind. Both Campbell and Lacy race in the Grand National Division at Salina, while Burroughs has competed in the Mini Stock Division at Connecticut's New London-Waterford Speedbowl and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Just six points separate first-place Nathan Campbell and second-place Kevin Lacy in Division IV. Both race in the Grand National Division at Salina. Cory Dumpert, who races in the B Modified Division at I-80 Speedway, leads Division V. But Tommy Davis Jr. picked up his division-leading 11th win last weekend and pulled within two points of Dumpert. Davis competes in the Front Wheel Drive Division at South Carolina's Anderson Motor Speedway and the 4-Cylinder Division at South Carolina's Greenville Pickens Speedway.
Bowling (678 points) has 34 top fives and 41 top 10s in 47 Division I races at South Boston; Dominion Raceway in Thornburg, Virginia; Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia; Tennessee's Kingsport Speedway, East Carolina Speedway in Robersonville, North Carolina; Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, North Carolina; and Caraway Speedway in Sophia, North Carolina.
Bowling's worst finishes are four races that netted him 34 points each. Which means, he would need a victory with a maximum field of 18 cars to improve his total.
As it is, Rocco and Majeski face a tall order.
Rocco has a pair of 32-point finishes. If he were to win at Connecticut's Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday, and New London-Waterford on Saturday with a maximum field of 18 at each, he would improve to 679 points.
The 31-year-old from Wallingford, Connecticut, driver finished second at Stafford last Friday and third at New London-Waterford last Saturday, to give him 13 wins, 28 top fives and 37 top 10s in 43 starts.
Rocco, the 2010 national champion, is a lock to finish in the top five in the national standings for the ninth straight season.
Majeski, a NASCAR Next driver, faces a similar must-win scenario.
The 22-year-old from Seymour, Wisconsin, is slated to run the double Super Late Model finales at Elko on Saturday. Majeski's worst two finishes are a 32 and a 33. A pair of wins against a maximum field would give Majeski 678 points and he would get the edge on Bowling by virtue of the tiebreaker (overall wins, 15-14).
Majeski, who started the season winning the Super Late Model crown at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna in February, has raced most of the season at Wisconsin's LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway.
He has 13 wins, 20 top fives and 23 top 10s in 24 starts. He has a win and two top fives in four races at Elko. He finished fourth this past weekend at Illinois' Rockford Speedway.
Nick Smith, who won the 150-lap Late Model feature last Thursday at Dominion, moved up to fourth in points. He is three ahead of California's Trevor Huddleston. Three-time national champion Lee Pulliam dropped back to sixth.
As the racing season winds down across the United States and Canada, the crowning of 2016 track champions continues.
Seven more Division I track champions were finalized last weekend, Dave Helliwell (New Hampshire's Lee USA Speedway), Michael Bilberback (Rockford), Matt Cox (South Carolina's Myrtle Beach Speedway), Pulliam (Motor Mile), Paul Glendenning (Adams County), Kyle Purvis (Ohio's Columbus Motor Speedway) and Jason Durgan (asphalt division at Vermont's Devil's Bowl Speedway) all won Division I track crowns.
This upcoming weekend, 11 more tracks will conclude their points seasons: Anderson on Friday; New York's Airborne Park Speedway, Greenville Pickens, North Carolina's Hickory Motor Speedway, Missouri's Lebanon I-44 Speedway, Tennessee's Lonesome Pine Raceway, New Hampshire's Monadnock Speedway, Ontario's Sunset Speedway, East Carolina, New York's Riverhead Raceway and South Boston on Saturday.
In addition to track champions, U.S. state and Canadian province champions will also be finalized this weekend.
The 2016 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I national champion, as well as track champions from 58 tracks, U.S. state and Canadian provincial champions, national champions from Div. II through V, top rookies and special award winners will be honored at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Friday, Dec. 9 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame / Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars are among the many showcases for Whelen products.
NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES / Division I Top 25
|1||Matt Bowling||Motor Mile, Caraway, Southern Natl, Dominion, S Boston, Kingsport, Anderson||47||14||34||41||678|
|2||Keith Rocco||Waterford, Stafford, Thompson||43||13||28||37||665|
|3||Ty Majeski||Elko, Madison Intl, New Smyrna, Lacrosse, Rockford||24||13||20||23||661|
|4||Nick Smith||Dominion, S Boston||20||12||17||18||630|
|5||Trevor Huddleston||Irwindale, Tucson||22||11||21||22||627|
|6||Lee Pulliam||S Boston, Myrtle, Caraway, Motor Mile, Southern Natl||33||15||25||28||618|
|7||Ted Christopher||Stafford, Waterford, Thompson||34||3||20||28||607|
|8||Rowan Pennink||Waterford, Stafford, Thompson||28||6||19||25||606|
|12||Tyler Matthews||Southern Natl, East Carolina||33||4||17||27||584|
|13||Brenden Queen||Southern Natl, S Boston, Myrtle, East Carolina||36||4||20||31||584|
|14||Doug Barnes, Jr||Dominion||19||2||17||19||576|
|15||Louis White||Southern Natl, East Carolina||25||5||16||25||569|
|16||Chase Purdy(R)||Greenville, Myrtle||21||10||16||20||568|
|18||Craig Von Dohren||Grandview||20||6||14||17||554|
|19||Kres Vandyke||Greenville, Kingsport, Myrtle, Motor Mile||37||12||30||32||551|
|20||Joey Miller||Elko, Columbus||24||6||16||22||550|
|22||Steve Carlson||Madison Intl, Lacrosse||19||4||17||18||542|
|23||Michael Fose||East Carolina, Southern Natl||25||2||14||19||540|
|24||Woody Pitkat||Thompson, Stafford||25||3||15||19||529|