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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A first-year NASCAR Whelen All-American Series dirt Late Model driver swept two of three NASCAR championships in Nebraska this year.
Jase Kaser won the state championship and NASCAR dirt Late Model track title at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb. He placed fourth in the track point race at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb.
Kaser, 20, of Lincoln, Neb., and his family’s race team settled into racing at Junction and I-80, weary from the expense and long hauls of touring and open competition Late Model racing.
“We planned to run these NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks this year to see how it all worked,” Kaser said. “We didn’t plan on points racing. After we won the first two races of the season we decided to see it through. We became more focused and more excited as the year went on.”
Kaser placed an impressive 15th in the national Top 500 ranking. He won the state championship with an overall 30-race record of nine wins, 21 top fives and 26 top 10s. His track championship record at Junction was nine wins, 15 top fives and 16 top 10s in 17 starts.
Kaser was encouraged to work hard for the championships by one of his childhood racing heroes, Kyle Berck. Berck won NASCAR Whelen All-American series regional championships in 1998 and 2002-03, and was champion of NASCAR’s former Midwestern dirt Late Model series in 2001. Berck won the 2012 NASCAR dirt Super Late Model championship at I-80.
“Kyle said if we won the championships, NASCAR makes it one of the coolest things we’ll ever do,” Kaser said. “When we won he got me excited about going to the awards banquet in Charlotte. I’m looking forward to seeing the NASCAR Hall of Fame and getting to meet a lot of other drivers. I’m looking forward to all of it.”
Kaser and team worked hard on the two track circuit, fielding two cars. I-80 features Super Late Models and Junction features Late Models powered by crate engines.
“There’s a difference of 200 horsepower in the cars,” Kaser said. “I-80 (a .4-mile oval) is a little bigger and faster and you carry more speed. Junction (a .375-mile oval) is a little shorter and feels a little slower. The driving lines are different so as a driver you make adjustments between the two tracks.”
When Kaser moved to Late Models at age 13, his dad Jay stopped driving to become car owner and crew chief for his son. By age 15 - in his second full season - he won a track championship and then moved into touring dirt Late Model competition.
“I would have raced at NASCAR tracks sooner, but at the time the age limit to get a NASCAR license was 16,” Kaser said. “Once we started this year, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Junction and I-80 seemed like a good fit for us. Things worked out really well. Now we want to see if we can improve on 15th place in national points next year.”
Kaser 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.
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 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.