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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Ten years after his breakthrough season in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition, California open-wheel driver Scott Winters reached a new career summit.
Winters, 45, of Tracy, Calif., produced a triple title season in 2012. He won his first NASCAR state championship along with pavement Modified track championships at All American Speedway in Roseville and Stockton 99 Speedway. His resume now includes a career total of eight track championships.
He also won a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series regional title in 2002, and topped the NASCAR Finalist Division II asphalt standings in 2010.
While Winters’ is a longtime pavement Modified driver, the division was returned to NASCAR Division I status this year at All American and Stockton for the first time since 2003.
“When the tracks announced Modifieds as NASCAR Division I for 2012 we were excited,” Winters said. “That was a lot of motivation for us to take a shot at the track and state titles.
“This is the first time the Ferrari-Kramer team won premier division championships. I can’t wait for them to feel what it’s like to be a champion at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banquet. It’s an event that’s hard to describe. When I look back at our 2002 championships, that whole experience was incredible. I never imagined how NASCAR treats its champions. I didn’t know what was at the end of the rainbow until then.”
In 2003, Winters followed up with a second track championship and placed fifth in his region, which marked his most recent series banquet appearance.
About midway through this season, Winters and team envisioned the point races breaking their way and adjusted their game plan. They added a second car to their effort, and raced the newer car exclusively at All American.
Winters’ 16 wins in 2012 were divided equally between the two tracks. His 32-race state championship record also includes 28 top fives and 29 top 10s. In the final NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Top 500, Winters is the leading California driver at 20th.
When he was eight years old, Winters’ dad Gerald bought him a go-kart to give them a father-son activity. They competed in the International Kart Federation and won track, region and series championships. They traded the kart for a Mini Stock eight years later. Winters won races and was the highest finishing rookie in track points. After two seasons, he set racing aside to move onto college.
Winter’s Mini Stock experience turned out to be an important key to Winters’ future.
“Racing the Mini Stock was important because it opened my eyes to car set-ups. It triggered the ‘how does this work’ thought process, which got me interested in the engineering side of things,” Winters said.
He went on to receive a doctorate in philosophy in engineering from the University of California Davis. He’s a longtime engineer at the Lawrence Livermore (Calif.) National Laboratory, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy. He works in its National Ignition Facility which researches fusion energy using the world’s largest and strongest laser, actually a combination of 192 lasers, which could one day become a primary source of renewable non-fossil energy. The project includes stockpile stewardship of nuclear weapons. Stockpile stewardship is the United States’ program of reliability testing and maintenance of the nation’s nuclear weapons without the use of nuclear testing.
Winters began racing Modifieds for the first time in 1997 when he got back on track after college graduation. He raced sporadically for several years based on his racing budget.
“We were respectable and won some races, but we didn’t contend in points,” Winters said. He didn’t race at all in 2000.
Two-time NASCAR regional champion Mark Welch coaxed Winters back into racing in 2001.
“We raced against Mark over the years and knew each other,” Winters said. “He told me he wanted me to test his car.”
It was a car Welch won 14 of 21 races with in 2000, and Winters knew he was driving a rocket.
“After driving Mark’s car I felt like I could be competitive if we put the right program together,” Winters said.
He later joined owners Ron and Kathleen Ostorero and went on to win the NASCAR regional championship in 2002. The Ostorero’s team blended into the Ferrari-Kramer team in 2007. Wayne Ferrari and Don Kramer are the team owners. In addition to the Ostoreros, team members include Chris Allen and Tim Carr. Their Stockton car was an Ellis chassis and the All-American car is a WenTeQ chassis.
Winters and his wife Joyce have three children including Ciara, 12 and twins Carly and Colby who are 10.
Winters will be honored for his track and state championships at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards event. The ceremonies are scheduled for Friday, Dec. 7 at the Charlotte Convention Center’s Crown Ballroom at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
A driver’s best 18 results through Sept. 16 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.