THREE CELEBRATE MOST POPULAR DRIVER AWARDS AT SUMMER SHOOTOUT
Wilkins, Spry & Van Wingerden Pick Up Coveted Awards Presented By 51 Designs
There are hundreds of drivers who participate in the Summer Shootout at Lowe’s Motor Speedway every year.  Of those hundreds of drivers, only a fraction will win races and even less will win championships.  Above the championships and race wins, though, there is one other award that each and every driver hopes to win.  This year, three drivers added their name to that exclusive list, walking away with the coveted 51 Designs Summer Shootout Series Most Popular Driver award.

Ashleigh Wilkins, George “Cotton” Spry and Thomas Van Wingerden were all officially crowned the 51 Designs Summer Shootout Series Most Popular Driver of their respective divisions. 
The 17-year-old has been racing for seven years.  She attends school in Charlotte, NC, at Independence High School.

Dillon Bassett Jr. was the Most Popular Driver for the Bandolero Bandits Division, while Kendal Sellers was crowned the Most Popular Driver for the Bandolero Young Guns Division.

The Legends class at the Summer Shootout garners the most attention and the highest car count, making the competition for Most Popular Driver even tougher.

Kara Clarke received the most votes for the Legends Semi-Pro Division to be named the Most Popular Driver of that division, while Chrissy Wallace, daughter of NASCAR driver Mike Wallace, won the award for the second-straight year by being named the Most Popular Driver for the Pro Division (Wallace won the award in 2005 for the Thunder Roadster class).

The awards, which are voted on by fans throughout the weeks of the Summer Shootout on Speed51.com, are handed out to the top vote-getters in each division that runs at the shootout.  Then, the overall vote getter in each of the three classes (Bandolero, Legends and Thunder Roadster) is crowned the overall 51 Designs Summer Shootout Series Most Popular Driver.

“It’s very special to me to win this award two years in a row for the (Bandolero) Outlaws and it’s really special to win the overall award,” said Wilkins, who competed in the Outlaw Division for drivers ages 16 and up.  “I am really excited to know that I beat out all of the drivers in the Bandits and Young Guns as well.  It was a real shocker for me.”

However, the overall Legends Most Popular Driver came from the Masters Division, which consists of drivers ages 40 and up.  Legendary Legends driver George “Cotton” Spry earned that honor in the Masters Division for the second year in a row.  This year, he also garnered enough votes to capture the overall title.

“It’s hard to believe I won this award again,” said Spry.  “I think it is because I have been doing it for so long and not really getting too rough on (my competitors) but racing them hard.  I race them how they want to race.  If they want to race clean, then I will race them clean and then if they don’t, I won’t.
SPEED Broadcaster Bob Dillner (second from right) presented (from left) "Cotton" Spry, Ashleigh Wilkins and Thomas VanWingerden the Most Popular Driver honors.  (51 Photos)
“It’s pretty cool to be the Most Popular Driver,” said Van Wingerden, whose brother and father finished second and third in the points behind him at the Shootout.  “I guess that I had a lot of family voting for me, which is pretty cool.  I never had an honor like that before, but I’ll take it.”

Speed51.com has become a leader in online Motorsports information by focusing on the Short Track Racing realm.  51 realized nearly four years ago that there was a void in the industry for this type of news and behind-the-scenes stories.  Now, 51 is viewed by thousands of viewers per day.  Speed51 fuels your Short Track appetite for ARCA,

The Thunder Roadsters have just one division at the Summer Shootout, open to drivers ages 16 and up.  And to no ones surprise, the family that dominated in Thunder Roadster competition this year also produced the Division’s Most Popular Driver.

Thomas Van Wingerden, who also won the Thunder Roadster Division Championship along with seven of the 10 races, picked up the 51 Designs Summer Shootout Series Most Popular Driver award for the Thunder Roadsters.


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"Cotton" Spry (left) was the Legends Masters MPD.
Thomas VanWingerden's Thunder Roadster.