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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A third generation Idaho driver won his first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I track and state championships in 2012.
Kristopher McKean, 22, of Jerome, Idaho won the NASCAR Super Stock division championship at Magic Valley Speedway, a third-mile paved oval in Twin Falls.
“It feels good to win NASCAR championships similar to the ones my dad won,” McKean said. “My dad and Dale Earnhardt Sr. are my racing heroes.”
McKean is the son of Eddy and Lynette McKean who now own the track. Eddy McKean won NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track and regional championships at Magic Valley in 1991 and 1996. He was champion of NASCAR’s former Southwest Tour for Late Models in 2002. He began his racing career in Street Stocks at Magic Valley when the track had a dirt surface in 1987.
Kristopher McKean was one year old when his dad won the first of his two championships.
“I didn’t realize how big those championships were,” McKean said. “They were major accomplishments.”
By age 11, McKean’s racing world was expanding as his dad began to travel with NASCAR’s former Southwest Series from 2001-07.
“I got to go to a lot of different tracks to watch dad race,” McKean said. “They used to call him the ‘Phoenix Phenom’ because he was so good in Late Model races at Phoenix International Raceway. He has three wins, three seconds and three thirds there. He was good at Pike’s Peak (International Raceway in Fountain, Colo.) too.”
All the racing action drew the younger McKean in, and he knew he wanted to drive race cars.
“As soon as I was old enough I hopped into a car,” he said.
He placed third in points and won the Super Stock division rookie-of-the-year award at Magic Valley in 2007. From 2008-11 he competed in both the Super Stock and Late Model divisions and won Super Stock titles 2009-11.
When Super Stocks became NASCAR Division I at Magic Valley this year, McKean already had plenty of experience. His 2012 track and state championship record in 19 starts includes seven wins, 17 top fives and 18 top 10s. He won the track and state championships by 21 points over Casey Pehrson and 24 over Hannah Newhouse. He also won the track’s season-long Bud Pole Award competition for the fourth year.
“We’ve always run pretty well and I keep getting more experience, but a lot of success in racing comes down to luck as well,” McKean said.
McKean’s grandmother, Beverly Meyers was the first in the family to compete in cars. She participated in ice racing for much of the 1960s.
“That was pretty crazy,” McKean said. “The tires had spikes in them.”
Grandfather Willy McKean raced Supermodifieds on asphalt and then Eddy started racing at Magic Valley in 1987.
“Racing has always been a family deal for us,” McKean said. “My sister Ashley won the Hornet division championship two years ago.”
He once spun his dad out while they were racing for a win on the last lap.
“We can laugh about it now, but at the time it wasn’t funny,” McKean said. “He walked up to me and said ‘That wasn’t too smart.’ I knew I was being too aggressive.”
His car is owned by McKean Motorsports. Josh Black is crew chief and Chad Everett is crewman. Their race car started life as a 1988 Chevy Monte Carlo but it now carries a Cadillac CTS body. Sponsors include Plumbing65.com, Shari’s Restaurant & Pies and his employer Magic Valley Pipe & Steel, the family business. McKean and his wife Kristan have two children. Kaili is four and Kristopher II is nine months.
McKean 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.
“We’re looking at going to that banquet as a once in a lifetime experience,” McKean said. “My whole crew and family are going. We’re excited. It’s an event we don’t want to miss.”
A driver’s best 18 results through Sept. 16 counted toward their states and national point totals, and the champions are decided on overall point total. Once a driver reached 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.