NASCAR and Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway announced today that the .375-mile banked concrete oval will be part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series beginning in 2011.
Robert Pressley, an Asheville, N.C. native and two-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series regional champion in his driving days, is the new promoter at Kingsport. The historic track has operated only sporadically hosting special events since 2002.
“We’re glad to be part of the renaissance Robert is leading at Kingsport,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR managing director of racing operations. “Robert has experienced the benefits of racing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series first-hand. The foundation for his success as a driver in NASCAR’s three national series began in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.”
Pressley used his NASCAR Whelen All-American Series success as a springboard to the NASCAR national series, where he won twice in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and 10 times in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He also made 205 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts.
Pressley has signed a five year lease on the track, and has formulated his plans.
“Promoting Kingsport Speedway is something I really want to do,” Pressley said. “They’ve had just a few special events here in recent years and had 100 cars and 3,000 fans. The fans here want Kingsport Speedway to open, and they want to support it. Kingsport is the place we need to be and everyone’s excited about it.
“I’ve raced with NASCAR my whole life, so we wanted Kingsport to be part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The response has been huge. So far, 57 Late Models registered to compete with us in 2011. We’ll be open on Friday nights and Late Models will be our top division. We’ll also have Street Stocks and four cylinder cars every week, with some specials for Legends and Chargers.
“Our fan base is within a 30-mile radius of Kingsport. We want to entertain them with great racing and send them home happy by 10:30 p.m. We want them to carry that buzz with them to the water-cooler at work on Mondays.”
Pressley won NASCAR Whelen All-American Series regional championships under a different series formats in 1987 and 1988 racing at his home track, Asheville (N.C.) Motor Speedway. He won four consecutive track championships there from 1984-87. His dad, Bob, was a legend at the track with seven titles and the 1989 NASCAR regional championship. Pressley’s brother, Mike, won two Asheville championships. The round .333 mile paved track opened in 1960 and closed in 1999.
Kingsport Speedway has a deep NASCAR history as well.
It hosted three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races between 1969 and 1971. Richard Petty won twice and Bobby Isaac won the final series race there.
The track was a frequent stop for the old NASCAR Sportsman Series, which was the foundation for today’s NASCAR Nationwide Series.
The track also grew with the times. It opened as a .337 mile paved oval in 1965, and operated in that configuration through 1983. When dirt Late Model racing became the trend, the track was converted to a .375 clay oval in 1984 and remained that way through 1995. The surface was changed to concrete and the track joined the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for the first time in 1996.
NASCAR track champions included Jeff Agnew (1996-97, Keith Stiltner, 1988-99, Wade Day, who also won the series’ Blue Ridge Region championship in 2000, and Jeff Berry in 2001.
Pressley is planning a special night to salute all the past Kingsport Late Model champions. He also noted that Stiltner and Day are planning to return to weekly NASCAR Late Model racing there.
NASCAR-licensed drivers in the track-designated Division I compete for track, U.S. state and Canadian provincial championships and point fund awards, as well as the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship. Series sponsor Whelen Engineering provides customized championship driver helmets for track champions and a championship racing uniform for state champions. In addition, NASCAR introduced the “Finalist Program” in 2010 to honor the track’s Division II-V competitors.
All NASCAR-licensed drivers competing in NASCAR-sanctioned divisions at sanctioned tracks are also eligible for NASCAR Participant Accident Insurance Coverage.
The eligibility for a NASCAR Learner’s Permit is 14 years of age. This allows drivers and crew members the opportunity to compete in entry-level divisions as designated by the track.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is the grassroots, foundation of NASCAR and consists of more than 50 short tracks across North America. Since its inception, NASCAR Home Tracks have served as a springboard in the careers of many NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, and Jamie McMurray are among the drivers who began their careers racing in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
More information on the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is available at www.NASCARHomeTracks.com.