Philip Morris is Named NASCAR WAAS National Champion From NASCAR Touring PR
To Celebrate, He Paces Martinsville LMSC Test Session
Late-season pressure doesn’t seem to phase Philip Morris.

For the second time in three years, Morris won his final Late Model feature on the very last weekend of the season to win the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship by the slimmest of margins.
Morris’ victory at his home track of Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., on Sept. 13 gave him the precious points needed to secure the 2008 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship.

The Ruckersville, Va., driver won the title by two points over runner-up Brian Harris of Davenport, Iowa, 955 to 953. Morris becomes only the second driver in the history of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program to win the title more than once. Morris also won the championship in 2006. Larry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., won five championships between 1989-96.

“This means everything,” said Morris, who was third in the national standings last year. “It was just a hard fought year with a lot of sacrifice. We tested almost every week – sweating in the grueling heat, trying to win this thing. From Day 1, we were watching the national points. It was a lot that went into it and to culminate it with the national championship is just awesome.
Philip Morris in victory lane at Motor Mile.  (Motor Mile Speedway / Alan Roop Photo)
“We’ve been trying to win the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship since 1998. When we finally one one in 2006, I thought nothing would top that. Until today. And then I realized this was even bigger.”

Morris received the official word in a congratulatory phone call Wednesday afternoon from NASCAR Managing Director of Racing Operations George Silbermann. Morris’ coronation will take place at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet on Friday, Nov. 7 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel in Las Vegas.

“To get that call from Mr. Silbermann saying we were the 2008 national champions made everything worthwhile,” Morris said.

The margin of victory matched Morris’ 2006 title run, when he beat out veteran Dirt Late Model driver Joe Kosiski, of Omaha, Neb., by two points (1,114-1,112). Morris won his final race that season at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C., a track he hadn’t visited prior to the finale.

Under a different points system, Barry Beggerly edged Dennis Setzer in 1993 by the similar margin of one position on the track.

Under the current points system, a driver’s total is based on a driver's top 18 finishes for the year at any NASCAR-sanctioned track. A driver receives two points for every car they beat – up to 25 cars – with a five-point bonus for wins.

Morris finished the season with 14 wins, 23 top fives and 26 starts. He also won his sixth Late Model division championship at Motor Mile, a .416-mile asphalt oval.

“I really enjoyed our last race at Motor Mile,” Morris said. “I wanted to win our national championship there. It was probably the hardest race we had there all year long. We never knew, even on the final lap, if we’d get the win. But we knew we had to win.

“It was great to earn the championship in front of my hometown fans. And it’s going to be great to represent Motor Mile Speedway at Las Vegas, because it’s just a first-class facility.”

Harris had 20 wins, 35 top fives and 36 top 10s in 38 starts while running his dirt Late Model at three Iowa tracks: West Liberty Raceway, Farley Speedway and Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway.

Marty Ward of Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C., finished third with 927 points. Keith Rocco, who races at three Connecticut tracks (Waterford Speedbowl, Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson International Speedway), finished fourth with 880 points. Jeff Strunk of Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa., rounded out the top five with 868.

Andy Eckrich, who raced on a weekly basis against Harris in Iowa, finished sixth. Jason Gilbert of Altamont Motorsports Park, Coleman Pressley of Greenville-Pickens Speedway, Nick Joanides of Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) and David Roberts of Greenville-Pickens Speedway round out the top 10.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion also earns a secure spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, to be held at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) Jan. 23-24, 2009.

National Champ Morris Paces Bailey's 300 Test Day At Martinsville Speedway
(Martinsville Speedway PR)

On a day when Philip Morris was waiting for word on a second national championship, he proved once again he is a national championship caliber driver.

Morris paced the field in an open test session at Martinsville Speedway Wednesday for next week’s Bailey’s 300. But this wasn’t a normal field of cars. There were 117 Late Model Stock cars on hand for the day-long session. And from beginning to end, Morris was the fastest.

“You know, we never really checked out what the other cars were doing, we were just worried about getting our car good,” said Morris, who was informed late Wednesday by NASCAR that he had clinched the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship. It was his second national championship in the past three years.

While there was no official timing Wednesday, everyone on pit road pointed to Morris
as the fastest in the huge field.

“We just worried about getting the car to feel good, like it did in 2000,” said Morris, who
won the Bailey’s 300 in 2000. “We worked on all four corners of the car all day long.
We think we can be good for qualifying and for the race. We think we’re building up a
big head of steam coming in here for race week.”

Two other former Bailey’s 300 winners, Timothy Peters and Frank Deiny Jr., were also
fast all day, clocking in among the top five in both the morning and afternoon sessions.

“We weren’t bad, not bad at all,” said Peters, who won the Bailey’s 300 in 2005. “We
came and unloaded good. We ran good all day, but we still have room for improvement.
But, if we ran today, I’d be totally confident we’d be in the top 22 in qualifying and have
a top-five finish.”

The Bailey’s 300 weekend begins on Friday, September 26 with registration and
inspection for the teams. The action ramps up on Saturday, September 27 with two hours
of practice beginning at 9 a.m. followed by qualifying at 1 p.m.

The first of four 25-lap heat races will kick off the action on Sunday, September 28 at 12:30 p.m. The 200-lap feature will begin shortly after the final heat race. Fan gates will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. on Sunday.

The fastest 22 drivers in qualifying will earn starting positions in the Bailey’s 300. The remaining 20 spots will be filled through the four, 25-lap heat races on Sunday, September 28.

Tickets for the Bailey’s 300 are $20 for adults, children 6-12 $5 and under 6 free. Tickets may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or by visiting www.martinsvillespeedway.com online.
Last year, Dennis Setzer won at Martinsville (above).  This year, Philip Morris is hoping to dethrone him - and started that mission off with a successful test session.