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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season hits high gear this week with a new national point leader.
Anthony Anders, of Easley, S.C., leads the debut of the 2014 weekly points standings updates. The 43-year-old displaces fellow pavement late model driver and two-time defending national champion Lee Pulliam from the No. 1 spot.
Pulliam led the weekly points for 29 consecutive competition weeks. His reign began nearly 22 months ago when he took the top spot from C.E. Falk III on July 17, 2012. Pulliam opens the 2014 season in fourth.
Anders moved to the potent Hawk McCall Motorsports late model team from Travelers Rest, S.C., this year. They’re planning an aggressive schedule.
“We’re focused on national points. The bottom line is we have to win races.” Anders said. “We want to have staying power.”
Anders posted his sixth Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway win and added a fifth-place finish in two 40-lap features Saturday night. He’s also won twice at Anderson (S.C.) Motor Speedway this year and placed second to Randy Porter there Friday. Between the two tracks, Anders has eight wins and 518 points.
The balance of the top-five in national points also competes in pavement late models.
Dillon Bassett, 16, of Winston-Salem, N.C., is second in points. In his first year racing full time in NASCAR, Bassett placed fourth at Anderson on Friday and posted finishes of third and second at Greenville on Saturday. He has four wins and 370 points, and also made starts at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C., East Carolina Motor Speedway in Robersonville, N.C., and Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Anderson and East Carolina are in there first year as NASCAR-sanctioned tracks.
Tommy Lemons Jr., 27, of Troy, N.C., is third in standings with one win and 323 points. He’s made starts at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C., Caraway, South Boston (Va.) Speedway and Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.
Pulliam, 26, of Alton, Va., has six wins and 310 points, and posted finishes of first and second in in twin 75-lap features Saturday at South Boston. He’s also won at Southern National and Motor Mile.
Matt Bowling, 20, of Ridgeway, Va., is fifth in standings. He also has 310 points, with Pulliam holding the edge
gets the position in points based on the tiebreaker of greater number of wins. Bowling has finished as high as second four times in official point races. He won the non-points Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at South Boston on April 24. He had finishes of fourth and second Saturday at South Boston, in addition to making starts at Caraway and Motor Mile.
In sixth place is the series’ 2005 national champion Peyton Sellers who races at South Boston and Motor Mile. Completing the top-10 are Greenville driver Trey Gibson and Anderson/Greenville drivers Randy Porter, Brandon Fox and rookie Daniel Alvarez.
As an owner-driver, Anders was among the early-season point leaders the past two years. Over the past four years, he achieved a single-season high of 12 wins in 2011. Anders led the first seven weeks of the 2012 national point race, and was among the top five in national standings during the first five weeks of 2013.
He won late model track championships at Anderson, Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway and Greenville from 2011-13, respectively. Anders also won the NASCAR South Carolina championship all three years.
“I won 11 features during all of 2013,” Anders said. “This year, I’ve won eight in the first six weeks. I finished last year with 568 points. This year I already have 518. Randy Hawk and Lee McCall are just on top of everything.”
Kyle Larson, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ leading rookie, drove a Hawk McCall Motorsports car to victory in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series late model portion of UNOH Battle at The Beach in 2013. Current NASCAR K&N Pro Series East point leader Ben Rhodes placed second in a team car. Tony Stewart won the 2012 Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at Richmond in a Hawk McCall late model.
“We’ll race everywhere and anywhere we can to try to win races,” Anders said. “We started out at Greenville, Anderson and Hickory Motor Speedway, and we’ll get to Kingsport Speedway and Myrtle Beach. Hickory is getting a ton of cars for their 100-lap races. I hope the car counts stay strong everywhere.”
The NASCAR point structure in Divisions I-V has been adjusted slightly for 2014. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of in an event, up to 18 cars. Three bonus points will be awarded to a race winner with a single-digit starting position and five bonus points will be awarded to a race winner with a double-digit starting position.
More than 80 percent of the series’ 58 tracks are now open. At season’s end, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I Top 500 drivers will be ranked by their best 18 NASCAR point race finishes in series-sanctioned events. The points season concludes Sept. 21.
Drivers must be NASCAR-licensed and cars will be verified for display of required series sponsor decals to be eligible for NASCAR points and awards.
Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 58 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.
Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.