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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Scott Gafforini made a lot from a little this season.
Gafforini, 45, of Henderson, Nev., won a record fourth NASCAR Late Model track championship at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and his second NASCAR state championship.
Gafforini approached this season tentatively when the D-shaped .375-mile paved track opened for the season. He lacked a primary sponsor but knew how to wring out every bit of performance from every part on his 15-year-old race car. His hope was to run his season at the Bullring on a race-to-race basis with winnings funding the car for the next race.
“We didn’t have the money to go look around for a part we might have liked to have,” Gafforini said. “Tony Blanchard from race101.net helped us with set-ups and shocks. We’d get a little ‘care package’ from him once in a while. When we got the set-up right, the car was awesome.
“What makes our car so strong is its consistency,” Gafforini said. “We had one stretch of six races on one set of tires. We won three of those features including the sixth race.”
Gafforini’s track and state championship season included eight wins, 11 top fives and 12 top 10s in 14 starts. A tangle with two lapped cars while leading and a broken water pump brought the two finishes outside the top 10. Eight wins in a single season is a career high, Gafforini said.
Racing and working on the same car for 15 years has a big advantage because of familiarity with every detail of the equipment. Gafforini calls the car “Old Blue.”
“I know the car well,” he said of a chassis he’s been racing since 1997. “Everything from the dashboard back is 15 years old. People will stop and look at the car and shake their heads. They can’t believe a car that old runs that fast.
“Every week we wash it, check all the nuts and bolts and do routine maintenance and ‘Old Blue’ keeps running,” Gafforini said.
Gafforini credits his crew for keeping the car steady week in and week out. Team members include his father Roger Gafforini, Eric Kirchner, Vince Bianshi, and Rich Ham. Support comes from Tony Blanchard’s www.race101.net and engine builder/car sponsor Howard Holmes of Vegas Machine.
Gafforini drove the Howe chassis race car for owner Fletcher Jones, then bought it from Jones in 2001. Gafforini is an assistant service manager and certified Toyota Master Mechanic at Fletcher Jones Toyota-Scion in Las Vegas.
Gafforini 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 (N.C.) Convention Center’s Crown Ballroom at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
A driver’s best 18 results through Sept. 16 were counted toward their states 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.