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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Three drivers, each of whom ran multiple races and added a win to their resume. As a result, the race for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship is arguably the tightest in the history of the series.
With just two weekends remaining, only three points separate the top three drivers. That's the equivalent of two positions on the race track -- or the difference between a win and a second-place finish -- after the trio have combined to run 104 races at 14 different race tracks.
As he has done all season, Matt Bowling leads the field.
The Ridgeway, Virginia, driver's 664 points is one better than Keith Rocco and three more than Wisconsin's Ty Majeski.
The final day for points to count toward NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championships is Sunday, Sept. 18.
Bowling was washed out last weekend at Virginia's South Boston Speedway, where he is the Late Model Stock Car division leader. He went to Dominion Raceway in Thornburg, Virginia, where he finished fourth in the first feature and rebounded for his 12th win of the season in the second.
Bowling has 30 top fives and 36 top 10s in races at South Boston; Dominion; Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia; Kingsport (Tennessee) Speedway, East Carolina Speedway in Robersonville, North Carolina; Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, North Carolina; and Caraway Speedway in Sophia, North Carolina.
Rocco, from Wallingford, Connecticut, briefly looked like he'd take the top spot with a win in the SK Modified Division at Stafford (Connecticut) Motor Speedway on Friday -- his 13th win of the season and first at the historic half-mile. But Rocco came home seventh at New London-Waterford (Connecticut) Speedbowl on Saturday.
Rocco also has 26 wins and 35 top 10s in 41 starts at Stafford, New London-Waterford, and Connecticut's Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Majeski, a NASCAR Next driver, made up the most ground with a win and three top fives in four races.
The 22-year-old from Seymour, Wisconsin, had jumped from 10th to third last week, but still remained 29 points out of first. He had a 13th and win at Madison (Wisconsin) International Speedway on Friday, and a second and fifth at Elko (Minnesota) Speedway on Saturday.
Majeski, who starting the season winning the Super Late Model crown at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna (Florida) Speedway in February, has raced most of the season at Wisconsin's LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway.
He has 13 wins, 19 top fives and 21 top 10s in 23 starts.
Trevor Huddleston is fourth in the national standings with 625 points racing a Late Model at California's Irwindale Speedway and Arizona's Tucson Speedway. And three-time national champion Lee Pulliam remains fifth with 14 wins in 32 starts at South Boston, Motor Mile, Southern National, Caraway and Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina.
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.
With LaCrosse's season over until 47th Annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend in October and Madison's season concluding last weekend, Majeski is looking elsewhere for races. Elko has twin Super Late Model races remaining next weekend. There is a possibility for him to either run the final race this Saturday at Rockford (Illinois) Speedway, or try to find a ride in the southeast.
Bowling is in the best shape. Dominion hosts a 150-lap feature tonight as part of the Kickoff To Virginia Race Week that culminates with the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Speedway on Saturday night. Southern National runs twin 40-lap Late Model features Saturday, and East Carolina has twin Late Model features Sunday as part of the Visit Martin County 300 card headlined by the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour that was postponed from last weekend by rain.
Rocco lost an opportunity to add to his total when lingering inclement weather washed out Wednesday night's racing at Thompson. He will go for two in a row Friday at Stafford, and has an SK Modified feature scheduled for Saturday at New London-Waterford.
To gain points, the drivers will have to record a finish better than their 18th-best points performance. Bowling's worst races were two 32-point finishes, meaning he'll have to finish 2nd or better with a maximum field of 18 cars to increase his total. After that, Bowling has four 34s, which can only be bettered by wins.
A second-place finish in an 18-car field is worth 34 points.
Rocco has one 33 and three 32s. Majeski has one 31 and five 34s.
As the racing season winds down across the United States and Canada, the crowning of 2016 track champions continues.
Eight more Division I track champions were finalized last weekend, with Justin Creech earning the inaugural NASCAR championship at Alaska Raceway Park. Bobby Wilberg won the title at Madison, while Kevin Timmerman (Spencer Speedway in Williamson, New York), Zach Myers (New York's Holland Motorsports Complex), Curtis Gerry (Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarbrough, Maine), Craig Von Dohren (Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania), Ben Schaller (I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Nebraska) and TJ Zacharias (New York's Chemung Speedrome) all won Division I track crowns.
This upcoming weekend, Lee (New Hampshire) USA Speedway, Rockford, Myrtle Beach, Motor Mile, Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa, and the asphalt division at Devil's Bowl Speedway in Vermont, will all conclude their points seasons.
In addition to track champions, U.S. state and Canadian province champions will also be determined over the next three weeks.
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 / NASCAR 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 / Top 25
|1||Matt Bowling||Dominion, S Boston, Kingsport, East Carolina, Motor Mile, Southern Natl, Caraway||40||12||30||36||664|
|2||Keith Rocco||Stafford, Waterford, Thompson||41||13||26||35||663|
|3||Ty Majeski||Lacrosse, Madison Intl, Elko, New Smyrna||23||13||19||21||661|
|4||Trevor Huddleston||Irwindale, Tucson||21||11||20||21||625|
|5||Lee Pulliam||South Boston, Motor Mile, Caraway, Myrtle, Southern Natl||32||14||24||27||610|
|6||Ted Christopher||Thompson, Waterford, Stafford||32||3||20||27||607|
|7||Nick Smith||S Boston, Dominion||19||11||16||17||601|
|8||Rowan Pennink||Stafford, Thompson, Waterford||27||5||18||24||591|
|12||Brenden Queen||S Boston, Southern Natl, Myrtle, East Carolina||32||4||19||27||580|
|13||Chase Purdy(R)||Greenville, Myrtle||21||10||16||20||568|
|14||Louis White||East Carolina, Southern Natl||23||5||15||23||565|
|15||Doug Barnes, Jr||Dominion||18||2||16||18||564|
|16||Craig Von Dohren||Grandview||20||6||14||17||554|
|17||Joey Miller||Columbus, Elko||24||6||16||22||550|
|19||Steve Carlson||Madison Intl, Lacrosse||19||4||17||18||546|
|20||Kres Vandyke||L Pine, Kingsport, Myrtle, Greenville, Motor Mile||37||12||30||32||543|
|21||Michael Fose||East Carolina, Southern Natl||25||2||14||19||540|
|22||Tyler Matthews||East Carolina, Southern Natl||29||2||14||23||538|
|25||Woody Pitkat||Stafford, Thompson||24||3||14||18||519|