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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway opens its 2013 NASCAR season with the biggest race of 2012 on Mar. 22 and adds a new event on Mar. 23. The track is one of 10 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series speedways opening in March.
Myrtle Beach’s historic .538-mile paved oval opens this month with the conclusion of November’s rain delayed 20th annual Myrtle Beach 400 weekend. The headline $10,000 to win, 250-lap event for NASCAR Late Model Stock Cars is scheduled for Mar. 22 along with a 100-lap, $3,000 to win Limited Late Model feature. Support division race winners on Nov. 17 were Bailey Miles (50 lap Mini Stock feature) and Marty Ward (100-lap Super Truck feature).
Sam Yarbrough will lead the main event to the green flag.
“We’ve had a long time to think about this race,” Yarbrough said. “We missed the set-up just a little in qualifying. We should have won the pole (through time trials).”
Yarbrough, 28, of coastal Shallotte, N.C., won the 2007 Myrtle Beach 400 and the 2008 track championship. Today he drives a car fielded by Chad McCumbee Racing. Owner McCumbee is a veteran of NASCAR Late Model racing and has starts in all three NASCAR national series. McCumbee presently drives for C.J. Wilson in the Grand Am Road Racing Series’ Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.
The top five starting positions in the 250 were determined by the results of a five car, 20-lap, $2,500 winner-take-all Dash For Cash on Nov. 17 won by Yarbrough. Top qualifier Matt Cox will start second followed by Coleman Pressley, second-fastest qualifier Tommy Lemons Jr. and Justin Milliken. The following day’s main event was postponed to March by rain.
“We’re eager to get back to the track,” Yarbrough said. “We’d like to bring home the checkered flag.”
A starting field of 43 cars was set in November. If all do not return, a minimum of four additional drivers could make the field through a last chance race, track officials said.
As an added incentive for drivers and fans, a 150-lap, $5,000 to win Late Model Stock Car race has been scheduled for Mar. 23. Limited Late Models and Mini Stocks will also compete.
“Now we’ve got a double header on Friday and Saturday,” said track owner Bob Lutz. “The big purses Friday and Saturday should attract the racers back for what is now a big weekend to kick off the 2013 season.”
Lutz assumed ownership of the celebrated track less than a year ago, and has been aggressively polishing the 55 year old track’s image and facilities.
“Last year we got started late due to the process of transfer of ownership from longtime owners Billy Hardee and Nick Lucas,” Lutz said. “We’re looking forward to our first full year.”
The relationship between Myrtle Beach Speedway and NASCAR date back to the days when the track was known as Rambi Raceway and had a dirt surface. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series appeared there nine times 1958-65. The NASCAR Nationwide Series competed there 13 times between 1988 and 2000. Over the years it also hosted the old NASCAR Grand National East Series, NASCAR Convertible Division and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. All racing generations of the Earnhardts and Pettys raced there.
The 21st annual Myrtle Beach 400 will conclude the track’s 2013 season Nov. 20-24. The speedway’s defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model champion is Anthony Anders who also won the NASCAR state championship. The website is www.myrtlebeachspeedway.com.
New Smyrna Speedway, a half-mile high-banked paved oval near New Smyrna Beach, Fla., opened the national NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season during its World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing Feb.15-23. The track joined NASCAR in January and operates on Saturdays. It returns to action Mar. 23 with NASCAR Super Late Models as its top division. Robert Hart is the famous track’s longtime owner and Terry Roberts is general manager. The website is www.newsmyrnaspeedway.org.
Opened Mar. 2:
Houston Motorsports Park, Houston, Texas: 2011 track and state champion Zak Hausler won the season opening NASCAR Fiesta Modified feature Saturday night at the .375-mile banked paved oval. Other feature winners: Zach Knowles, NASCAR BWFS Coke Trucks; and defending division champion David Webster, NASCAR Stock Cars. The track operates on alternating Saturdays. Graham Baker owns the facility and John Mandabach is promoter. The website is www.houstonmotorsportspark.com.
Southern National Motorsports Park, Kenly, N.C.: Defending track and NASCAR state champion Deac McCaskill won a pair of 100-lap NASCAR Late Model Stock Car features at the .4-mile banked paved oval Saturday. Other feature winners: Robert Arch, Chargers; Travis Miller, UCAR; Connor Hall, Legends. Track operators include Jerry Brown and Michael Diaz. Weekly racing continues on Saturday nights. The website is www.snmpark.com.
Opening Mar. 9:
Historic Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway is a .363-mile banked paved oval that opened in 1951. It hosted NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races 1953-71 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series 1982-1998. The NASCAR Convertible Division raced their five times in the 1950s. It was the site of the 1993 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship final race showdown between invader and Barry Beggarly and Hickory regular Dennis Setzer. Beggarly won the title. Austin McDaniel Hickory’s reining NASCAR Division I Late Model Stock Car champion. The track is operated by Kevin Piercy on Saturday nights. The website is www.hickorymotorspeedway.com.
Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway opens with a Saturday afternoon event. The .333-mile banked concrete oval then switches to Friday night weekly racing on Mar. 15. It is promoted for former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series regional champion Robert Pressley, who competed in all three NASCAR national series. Nate Monteith won the track’s NASCAR Division I Late Model championship and NASCAR state championship for the second consecutive year in 2012. He placed fourth in last year’s national point race. The website is www.newkingsportspeedway.com.
South Boston (Va.) Speedway, known as “America’s Hometown Track,” opens with the Danville Toyota Twin 100s for NASCAR Late Models with a 2 p.m. race time. The track switches to a 7 p.m. race time on Apr. 13. Matt Bowling won the SoBo’s NASCAR Division I Late Model Stock Car championship and finished fourth in the state point race in 2012. Over the years the track helped produce NASCAR Whelen All-American series national champions Peyton Sellers, Philip Morris and Lee Pulliam. The .4-mile banked paved oval operates on Saturday nights track is managed and promoted by Cathy Rice. The website is www.southbostonspeedway.com.
Opening Mar. 10:
Caraway Speedway, a .455-mile banked paved oval in Sophia, N.C., opens with a 100-lap feature for its NASCAR Division I Late Model Stock Cars on Sun., Mar. 10, then switches to its regular Saturday night schedule on Mar. 16. Mack Little III won Caraway’s NASCAR Division I Late Model Stock Car track championship in 2012. Past track champions include 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte and 1995 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Mike Skinner. The track is owned and promoted by Darren and Renee Hackett. The website is www.carawayspeedway.com.
Opening Mar. 15:
Orlando (Fla.) Speedworld opens its inaugural NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season March 15. The track operates on Friday evenings to create a two-track circuit with New Smyrna Speedway. NASCAR Late Models will be Orlando Speedworld’s NASCAR Division I. Ozzy and Maria Moya promote the .375-mile banked paved oval. The website is www.orlandospeedworld.org.
Opening Mar. 16:
Greenville-Pickens Speedway, a fabled half-mile paved oval in Greenville, S.C., opens its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season Mar. 16, before its annual spring NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event on Mar. 23. Toby Porter won the Saturday night track’s 2012 NASCAR Division I Late Model Stock Car championship and placed second in the state point race. Past track champions include Ralph Earnhardt (1965-66) and David Pearson (1959). A 1971 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event there was the first to be televised live flag-to-flag on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The track is owned and promoted by Kevin Whitaker while Sarah Whitaker is chief steward. The website is www.greenvillepickens.com.
Opening Mar. 30:
The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a .375-mile banked paved D-shaped track operates on Saturday nights. Scott Gafforini won his fourth NASCAR Division I Super Late Model track championship and second NASCAR state championship in 2012. The track opened in 1985, 12 years before Las Vegas Motor Speedway was developed on adjoining acreage. Tim Richter is the track operator and John Bisci is public relations manager. The website is www.lvms.com/bullring.
Entering its 32nd season, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. More than 50 tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.
A NASCAR Division I driver’s best 18 results through the Sept. 15 closing date count toward their state and national point totals and the champions are decided on overall point total. Once a driver reaches 18 starts, their point total increases incrementally as they replace some poorer runs with better results.
Under the point structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, a 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.
Track operators also designate support classes as NASCAR Divisions II-V and drivers in those divisions compete for points in the NASCAR Finalist program. The program brings added recognition to support division drivers. Points are kept separately for asphalt and dirt tracks.
Pavement Late Model driver Lee Pulliam, 24, of Semora, N.C., won the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship.
More information on the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is available at http://hometracks.nascar.com.