About midway through the 2019 race season, Tyler Hoover realized he was doing pretty well in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division V points standings.
While he came up just short of his goal of a Division V national championship, he still finished the season as a national champion. The Villisca, Iowa, teenager won the UNOH Youth Achievement Award, given to the driver who accumulates the highest points total prior to turning 18.
Hoover, who turned 17 in March, wasn’t even trying to go for any national titles at the beginning of the season. His focus was on winning a sports compact track championship at Adams County Speedway, a half-mile dirt oval in Corning, Iowa.
“After I got going and saw that I could get it (the national championship) I stated trying to strive or it a little bit,” he said.
Hoover thought he had a chance at the UNOH Youth Achievement national championship, but didn’t know for sure until he got the call.
“It was different. I’m not used to getting phone calls from NASCAR,” he said.
Hoover won four NASCAR races this season, and finished in the top-5 in all 16 of his starts. His 394 points was just four better than second-place finisher Meghan Fuller, from Stafford and Thompson Speedways in Connecticut.
NASCAR uses a driver’s best 14 finishes from any sanctioned track in North America to determine the National Champion for Division II through V. Drivers receive two points for every NASCAR-licensed competitor they finish ahead of, up to 16 cars; and can receive two bonus points for winning from a starting position five through eight, and four points for winning from ninth or further back.
The UNOH Youth Achievement Award is determined by a driver’s best 14 finishes, regardless of division, before their 18th birthday.
Hoover finished second the NWAAS Division V championship, falling to Dustin Grout by 24 points. He did get the better of Grout in the Adams County Brandon Towing and Recovery Compacts points race, winning the track title by a margin of 108 points.
This was Hoover’s second full season of racing. He had quite few family members who have always been into the sport, which brought him to the race tracks at a young age.
“My and my cousins when we were young we always made down hill wooden carts and stuff and raced each other,” he said. “Racing was just something I always wanted to do. Something I was always interested in.”
Even though he’s still young and in the dawn of his career, Hoover said he’s always felt comfortable at Adams County, his home track.
When he first started racing, Hoover’s goals simple. But as his career has progressed they’ve gotten bigger and bigger.
And so far he’s reached every one of them.
“Last season the goal was to get a win,” he said. “And then after I got a win, I knew once I got a win I would want to set another goal that was higher so then I set track championship goals. And I went above that this year even. I wasn’t even expecting that. I thought the points race would be closer than it was. I won it by quite a bit. I shocked myself.”
On the track, the plan for Hoover next season is to return to the sports compact field at Adams County, as well as try to go for the Division V national championship.
Off the track, the senior in high school hopes to stay in racing somehow. He’s received a scholarship to attend the University of Northern Ohio, though he said he’s keeping his college options open at this point.
No matter what, he hopes his racing career and time in the sport last well beyond this national title.
“It’d be cool to have a career just involved in the sport someway,” Hoover said. “I don’t even have to be driving. I could just get a dirt car and go out on my own when I feel like it. It’d just be cool to be involved in the sport for a career in some way.
“There’s nothing like it really. I love it.”