Five of NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series drivers have been officially announced as national champions:
Cody Jolly (Division II), Bryan Narducci (Division III), Nathan Campbell (Division IV), Luke Ramsey (Division V) and Marcello Rufrano (UNOH Youth Achivement Award).
They all achieved their season-long goal of the top championship in their division through perseverance, hard work and excellence on the race track.
RACING REFERENCE – NASCAR WHELEN ALL-AMERICAN SERIES NATIONAL STANDINGS:
Cody Jolly Repeats As Division II Champion
Jolly, who sealed his second straight Division II national crown by competing on three different dirt tracks, is in just his fifth year racing. He won 15 feature events at Oklahoma’s Thunderbird Speedway and Salina Highbanks Speedway, and Kansas’ Humboldt Speedway.
“Honestly, I’m mainly speechless, but I’m honored,” Jolly said. “This is only our second season racing with NASCAR, and I lost my car builder, Tony Bone, due to health issues. I promised him and his family that I would get him another championship. It’s an honor.”
On his way to the crown, Jolly won the AmeriFlex Hose & Accessories B-Modified race at Salina on the final Saturday night of the points season, ending his efforts in celebration. The Jasper, Missouri, driver has been a quick study on dirt.
“It’s like a second job to me and my family, we put in thousands of hours trying to get it right. We don’t settle for just being fast, we always are trying a way to be faster,” he said. “We are just trying to do our best. I told everyone when I started racing that I wanted to make a name for myself. I didn’t want to just be the next guy that went out there and made laps. I want to chase a dream. I have to thank my family, my girlfriend, and Tony Bone. May he rest in peace.”
Travis Billington, who competed on the dirt at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Vermont, finished second, 64 points back. Billington won five of his 17 starts in Vermont, while Kevin Neal, who competed at Bowman Gray Stadium and Caraway Speedway, finished third.
Bryan Narducci Seals Division III Championship
With five victories in 20 starts in the SK Light Modified division at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway, Narducci is celebrating the Division II national championship in his rookie campaign in the division. He’s collected top-10 finishes in 16 races.
“It’s definitely a pretty cool honor,” Narducci said. “I was looking at the standings the last few weeks to see where we were, and with Bowman Gray done racing, I knew if we had a couple of good weeks, we could probably be the leader. We had a bad race last week, and we still had enough of a lead.”
The Colchester, Connecticut, driver is no stranger to racing at the Connecticut half-mile. After a stint in the go-kart ranks, Narducci made the move to the Limited Late Model division at Stafford, where he won six races and finished inside the top-10 in points in two straight seasons.
He found himself in the middle of a heated track championship race this season with Marcello Rufrano, who ended up third in the Division III standings. The two upcoming modified drivers are tied at the top of the SK Light track championship standings with one race remaining.
“We battled when we were 10-years-old racing Go-Karts at Stafford, and to be almost eight years later, we are still racing and battling for wins with each other,” Narducci said. “Racing at Stafford, all of the legends that have come through there, this is definitely pretty cool.”
Billy Gregg, who led the standings through many of the final weeks, finished second, just six points out. Gregg won four of his 16 races at North Carolina’s Bowman Gray Stadium, while Rufrano, with his six victories, finished third, 16 points out.
Nathan Campbell Uses Dirt Experience To His Advantage
For the second time in his racing career, Campbell is celebrating a national championship in Division IV. Campbell, who competed at Salina and Thunderbird this season, won eight of his 17 starts.
“We started out the year just going to the races and having a good time, but in the middle of the season, I started looking at the points and figuring we might have a good shot at winning it,” Campbell said. “We decided to put in some extra hours during the week.”
Those extra hours in the shop were well worth it for the veteran, who has been racing on the dirt for over a decade. After a year off the top, he is happy to be back where he feels he belongs.
“It’s awesome, we definitely had a good season. I don’t know how many drivers raced across the country, but on a regular night, we get anywhere from 24 to 35 cars, and we have to run at least one, maybe two B-Feature races. For me, it’s awesome to be on top.”
Luke Ramsey Rolls To Division V Trophy
The path to the Division V championship ran through Luke Ramsey this season.
The Bedford, Iowa, driver put himself in prime position to clinch the championship by winning 22 races across two different tracks — I-80 Speedway in Nebraska and Adams County Speedway in Iowa. In his 47 starts, Ramsey finished with 38 top fives and 43 top 10 finishes.
“At the beginning of the season, we set our eyes on the Division V championship,” Ramsey said. “Last year we had really good stats, but this year, the car count stepped up and we started off well. We had a spreadsheet and we put our scores into it every week, so we knew we had to finish the best we could. We worked hard. We had our minds set to it, so this is a dream come true that we can finally say we have officially accomplished it.”
For Ramsey, who has been racing since 2012, this is only step one of his goal. He plans to take this championship and make the move to Division IV next season, where he hopes he will be celebrating once again.
“I’ve got a lot of sponsors, crew and family. My kids sacrifice time with their dad but they enjoy going racing,” Ramsey said. “Chris (Vannausdle) had his sights set on this championship as well, and we were both working towards the same goal.”
George Bessette Jr., who clinched the track championship in the Street Stock division at Stafford Motor Speedway, finished second in the Division V standings by 27 points. Vannausdle, who raced at the same two tracks Ramsey did, finished third in the final points tally with five victories.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I drivers are ranked by their best 18 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of – up to 18 cars – and three points for a win, with an additional two points available if the driver starts 10th or lower. Division II through V and the UNOH Youth Achievement Award are determined by a driver’s best 14 NASCAR points finishes.
Marcello Rufrano Edges Bryan Narducci For UNOH Crown
Rufrano came up just short of the Division III crown this season, but the North Haven, Connecticut, driver will still celebrate as a NASCAR national champion. Rufrano, who competes in the SK Light Modified Division at Stafford Motor Speedway, defeated Narducci by just a mere two points in the final tally to clinch the UNOH Youth Achievement National crown.
The 17-year-old was able to seal the championship by competing at two tracks — both of them in Connecticut. In a combined 27 starts, Rufrano scored seven wins — with six at Stafford and one at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. At Thompson, Rufrano took the green flag as part of the Division I Sunoco Modified division.
Although he competed in the 20 events with Narducci at Stafford, his Thompson starts helped push him to the top in the UNOH standings. He is scored with a win, a fourth and a sixth on the Thompson high-banks, which each earned him additional points.
The UNOH Youth Achievement Award is open to NASCAR drivers between the ages of 14-17, and drivers may accumulate points until their 18th birthday. These standings are based on the best 14 finishes regardless of division.
“It means a whole lot to me,” Rufrano said. “I haven’t really won anything this prestigious in any type of motorsports. In fact, I haven’t even won a championship. It was always going after race wins, and I let the points take care of themselves. Just to have this on my resume means a lot to me and my crew. We worked really hard this year, and it shows.”
Rufrano has two career wins in the Street Stock division at Stafford, and picked up his first SK Light Modified win in August of 2016. He is currently tied with Narducci for the track championship, which will be decided as part of the NAPA Fall Final on September 30.
Jolly, Narducci, Campbell, Ramsey and Rufrano will be joined by the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series U.S. state and Canadian province champions, track champions and other special award winners on Friday, Dec. 7, as part of the NASCAR Awards in Charlotte, North Carolina.