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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Anthony Anders established a national presence in 2012. Over the past decade he methodically built his NASCAR Late Model racing career to achieve his breakthrough season.
Anders, 41, of Easley, S.C., led the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series’ national point race for much of the first half of the season. He made a series leading 49 starts in three states. He won his first career NASCAR Late Model track championship at historic Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway and his second consecutive NASCAR state championship. His state championship record was six wins, 23 top fives and 28 top 10s in 29 starts. His overall record in the national point standings was six wins, 32 top fives and 46 top 10s in 49 starts. That record included starts at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C., Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway and Hickory (N.C.) Speedway in addition to Myrtle Beach. He ultimately finished 17th in national points
Sure, he would have liked to finish closer to the top of the national standings, but he’s far from disappointed. He asserted his potential in 2012, and he’s energized for the 2013 campaign.
“The bottom line is you have to win races,” Anders said of his 2012 national points finish. “We were racing in full fields (20 or more cars in which feature winners receive five bonus points) at Myrtle Beach and Kingsport), but we just didn’t win enough of them. We were so close to wins so many times, and if those were wins, we could have at least finished in the top 10.”
Converting just a few of his 15 second or third place finishes to wins would have made a difference. In his 49 starts, he had only one DNF. Anders won twice at Myrtle Beach and four times at Greenville-Pickens. Making frequent but not fulltime starts, Anders placed fourth in Greenville points and ninth at Kingsport, the tightest track on his schedule.
Kingsport’s .375-mile banked concrete oval is noted for generating torrid competition.
“That’s the way it is at Kingsport,” Anders said. “It’s door-to-door racing every lap, every week.”
Anders, an owner/driver, did not plan to compete in so many races in 2012.
“Myrtle Beach started out with Thursday night racing, so we decided to go give it a try,” Anders said. “The Thursday night racing made chasing points feasible. Then we could race at Kingsport Friday and Greenville Saturday. When Myrtle Beach moved to Saturdays, we’d race at Greenville when Myrtle Beach was off.
“The season just unfolded that way. We went to Myrtle Beach and we were surprised at how well the place changed. Both the car count and the racing were great. We finished fourth the first week and second the following week. We won two races and were consistently in the top five. The rest of the year snowballed from there.”
The battle for the 2012 Myrtle Beach championship see-sawed between Anders and defending track champion Justin Milliken as laps clicked away in the final point race of the season. After being in position to win the title, Milliken’s car faltered back to sixth place at the finish. Anders, who needed to finish 10th or better to win the title, finished seventh. His track point margin over Milliken was 21.
“It’s awesome to win a championship at such a historic track,” Anders said.
Over the years the speedway hosted several NASCAR series including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 1958-1965 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series 1988-2000. Four generations of Pettys and three generations of Earnhardts competed at Myrtle Beach Speedway during their careers.
Anders has five Late Models in his race shop located near his NASCAR Home Track, history steeped Greenville-Pickens Speedway. On weekends he raced at Kingsport on Friday nights followed by Myrtle Beach on Saturday nights, the weekend tow approached 800 miles. Back home at Greenville, his best point finish came in 2011 when he placed second to Randy Porter. He began his Late Model racing career there in 2001.
Team members include crew chief Derek Lathum, Robert Haseleu, Brandon Lee Fox and Bernie Dythis.
Anders uses several chassis including Ortec, Port City, and Eugene White-built cars. Engine builders include Chris Saddler, Greg Dogens and Joey Arrington. Sponsors include Outback Steakhouse, Anders Inc., and Busy Beaver Tree Service.
Anders plans to run a similar schedule again this year, and he’ll be joined by Fox, an adopted son.
“Brandon raced Chargers in 2012, and he’s been learning Late Models inside and out. He can take them apart and put them back together. He understands race cars,” Anders said.
Anders and his wife Tammy are also parents to Fox’s brother, Brent, and have two daughters Kirstie and Kelsey. All have excelled in high school and college educations.
“Our kids are an amazing blessing,” Anders said. “We’re very proud of them.”
Anders was honored in December for his track and state championships during the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards event 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 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.