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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bruce Yackey continues to add to one the longest running success stories in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
Yackey, 46, of Greeley, Colo., won his seventh NASCAR Late Model track championship at Colorado National Speedway in Dacono, Colo., in 2012. The title was accompanied by his fourth NASCAR state championship.
There was a twist in winning the titles. Yackey had to sit out the 100-lap Challenge Cup XXXVIII on Sept. 29. It is the .375-mile paved oval’s biggest event of the year and final track point race of the season.
“The week before the Challenge Cup I broke my ankle racing go-karts,” Yackey said. “My wife Christi took me to the hospital. I was admitted and had surgery the next day to put it back together. I’ll be on crutches for a few more weeks. I hope to be walking in time for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banquet in Charlotte in December.
“There was no way I could drive in the Challenge Cup. I tried just sitting in the car the Wednesday before the race and it was just too painful. I never missed a race before. I went and watched, but it was really hard to do. It was the first Late Model feature I watched from the pit grandstands since the track was paved (in 1989).”
As he watched, he had noteworthy observations.
“I thought ‘wow, these guys are going fast,’ but it doesn’t seem that fast when I’m driving,” Yackey said. “It was interesting to watch the race unfold from a different perspective. I could see the guys who were going too fast too early using up their tires and I could see who was conserving their cars for late in the race.”
Adam Deines won the Challenge Cup 100 while Yackey’s track point rival Rick Smith placed second in the race. Yackey still topped the track standings by 95 points over Smith.
Yackey’s go kart accident came in interesting fashion.
His family and crew were competing in a series of one-on-one races at a local karting facility. After each race the loser was eliminated and the next challenger faced the winner. Yackey was racing his 14 year old son Brian at the time of the wreck.
“Brian was in the lead and I was just trying to keep up with him when I slipped off the track and hit the fence.”
Yackey has a long list of accomplishments at Colorado’s premier short track. His first track championship came in the Sportsman division in 1989 and he won a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series regional championship in 1997.
In all he has 13 championships spread over 23 years. He expects to be racing for a long time to come, but so far he considers the 2012 season a career highlight.
“Performance-wise, this year was my best season in 22 years of Late Model racing,” Yackey said.
His final numbers were seven wins and 12 top fives in 13 starts.
In addition to Brian, the Yackeys have a son Brett, 12, and daughter Heather, 9. Brian races in a Winter Enduro series and Brett seems to be a future driver, according to Yackey.
“If Brian works on his car, I’ll help him. If he doesn’t work on it, he doesn’t go racing. I don’t know how soon Brian or Brett will race at Colorado National. They’re both involved and pretty good in scholastic sports right now… football, baseball, basketball and wrestling. They already get good grades, so we don’t have to give them grade requirements in order to play sports or go racing.”
Yackey is an owner-driver who has used Port City Chassis for 21 years. He acquired a new Port City car this year and kept his nine-year old car as a backup. Also in his shop is a touring series Late Model, Brian’s Enduro car and go-karts, including the now repaired one he wrecked. He uses his own Greeley Automotive Machine-built engines, as does point runner-up Smith and several other drivers in different divisions at the track.
His crew chief is father-in-law Butch Bailey. Team members include Orvin Adolf, Rex Tincher, Bruce Self, Steve Greenhagen, Jim Walker, sister Sheryl Yackey, and his family. Sponsors include General Air Service & Supply and GAM Racing Engines.
Yackey will be honored for his track and state championships at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards onFriday, 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 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.
Bruce Yackey in the No. 12 General Air Service & Supply Chevrolet. Courtesy Joe Starr