Morris Crowned National Champion At NWAAS Awards Banquet From NASCAR PR
Winning Late Model Stock Season Produces a National Title
The 2008 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season ceremoniously came to an end Friday night as Philip Morris was crowned the national champion at the 27th annual awards banquet in the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas.
Morris, of Ruckersville, Va., captured the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship for the second time in the last three years on the strength of 14 wins and 23 top-five finishes in 26 starts. On his way to the 2008 national title, Morris captured the Motor Mile Speedway (Radford, Va.) track championship in a Late Model and also earned the Virginia state crown.
Morris’ outstanding national title campaign was recognized with a Tiffany crystal national championship trophy in ceremonies Friday evening at the Rio Hotel.
“Now the championship is starting to settle in and we’re starting to realize what we’ve accomplished as a team and as a family,” Morris said. “Now it’s starting to sink in how really special this year was, how big it was, and how important this year was for us.”
Morris’ crew chief, Chad McCoy, took home the Lunati Cranks Crew Chief Award and the Lincoln Electric Car Owner Award also went to Morris as driver-owner.
The accomplishments of national runner-up Brian Harris (Davenport, Iowa) and Marty Ward (Marietta, S.C.) – third-place finisher in the 2008 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standings – were also recognized, along with track champions and U.S. state and Canadian provincial titlists. In all, 53 championship drivers from throughout North America walked across the stage Friday night.
“What’s happening here tonight is a celebration of NASCAR’s 27th season of formalized weekly racing – the foundation of everything NASCAR has been able to do through the years,” said Jim Hunter, NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications. “The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series has come a long way in its nearly 30 years. Today, more than 10,000 drivers compete annually in short tracks throughout the United States and Canada.”
A pair of special awards were also handed out at the banquet. Paulie Harraka, track champion at All-American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., was also named the Wendell Scott Trail Blazer Award recipient, which goes to the outstanding minority or female driver from the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
“I’m extremely excited to win the Wendell Scott Trail Blazer Award,” Harraka said. “The Drive for Diversity Program has been a huge part of my racing career. It was my stepping stone to go from being a winning Legends car driver to now being a winning Late Model driver.”
Additionally, Raymond Bouchard of Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway took home Craftsman Mechanic of the Year honors.
“I’m happy just to be involved in the contest,” Bouchard said. “NASCAR does a great job of putting on an event like this, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
Friday’s banquet featured “NASCAR on FOX” television broadcasters Mike Joy and Dick Berggren as co-emcees.
Phillip Morris and his championship winning Late Model. (NASCAR Photo)