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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Nevadan Kayli Barker established a milestone recently when she became the youngest woman to win a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature race on Aug. 18. The win came in the Super Stock division at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s .375-mile paved oval known as The Bullring.
“We didn’t expect to win so quickly,” Barker said. Her first NASCAR Super Stock win came in her eighth career start.
“We were hoping to get some top-three finishes, finish in the top-five in points and win our division’s rookie of the year award,” she said.
The North Las Vegas resident and high school sophomore lowered the women’s age record to 15 years, 21 days. She eclipsed the record of 15 years, two months, 10 days set by Hannah Newhouse in April. Newhouse won her first career NASCAR Super Stock division feature at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho on April 14. The overall age record is held by Denton Garrett of Hope Valley, R.I. Garrett won a NASCAR Mini Stock feature at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl at the age of 14 years, five months, 10 days on Aug. 20, 2011.
Barker is currently fourth in Super Stock division points at The Bullring, and leads her division’s rookie race. Her current racing record is one win, five top-fives and eight top-10s in eight starts.
Her first win came in dramatic fashion. After the field had taken the white flag the two leaders tangled during the last lap and spun, effectively ending the race because the caution flag. Third place driver Barker soldiered across the finish line as the race winner.
“I thought we got second place. Dad told me over the radio that I won, so I went to victory lane,” Barker said.
Kayli’s parents Ron and Vicki Barker are her car owners with her dad doubling as crew chief. She has been racing since 2005.
“We’ve watched Kayli progress from Bandoleros to Super Stocks, and she’s a good solid racer,” said John Bisci, a life-long weekly racing enthusiast and public relations manager at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “She has the talent and she’s definitely on the way up. Our Super Stock division is tough. The competition is wide open because so many of them could win any night. Kayli won in a wild finish. Trophies and plaques don’t say a driver was in the right place at the right time. They just say ‘Feature Winner.’ You take the wins as they come.”
Barker is a second generation driver.
“I was born into a racing family,” Barker said. “Dad raced Super Stocks when I was three. I was always around racing so it became something I wanted to do.”
She began racing Bandoleros at age eight.
“It took a couple of years to get confidence in myself as a driver,” she admits.
She won Bandolero championships at The Bullring in 2009 and 2011, and amassed 22 wins. She still races those cars in western winter months.
“When the age to apply for a NASCAR license was lowered to 14, we got a Super Stock and entered four races to get some experience but protect our rookie status for this year,” Barker said. “Super Stocks were a whole different everything from what I was used to, especially the horsepower and handling.”
Barker is in 10th grade at Mountain View Christian School in Las Vegas. The business end of her deal with her parents to drive race cars is to be a straight-A student in order to compete.
Car sponsors and crew members Conrad and Judy Rowe purchased the Chevy Camaro Super Stock for Barker last year. Mrs. Rowe is a second-year NASCAR Bomber division driver and is eighth in track points. Other sponsors include Morris Sealy and Execuclean. In addition to her parents and the Rowes, team members include Greg Cole, Josh Ohman and Patrick Camburn.
The Super Stock division at The Bullring is the track’s NASCAR Finalist Division II.
The NASCAR Finalist Division program recognizes drivers who compete in support divisions at NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks. With “Division I” being each track’s top division, the NASCAR Finalist Division line-up at each track highlights drivers competing in their second, third, fourth and fifth tier divisions. A NASCAR-licensed driver’s best 14 finishes are counted toward their final point total for the year. Points are kept separately for dirt and asphalt tracks. The NASCAR point season concludes Sept. 16.