If Week 1 is any indication, the 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship race is going to be a dogfight.
The top three drivers have combined for an astonishing 17 wins and 23 top fives in 25 races.
The good news is it makes the recipe for winning the championship pretty easy.
“You have to go out there and win races. That’s all you can really do,” said Keith Rocco. “There isn’t any other way to look at it.”
Rocco should know. The 25-year-old from Wallingford, Conn., has finished in the top five in points in each of the last three years, including a runner-up finish last season. And he holds the top spot of the first national series points standings release of the new season.
Rocco has 342 points on the strength of six wins, a second and a third in eight NASCAR starts running in the asphalt Modified divisions at three Connecticut short tracks: Waterford Speedbowl, Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson International Speedway.
Justin Johnson is second with 337 points. He has five wins in nine starts in the Late Model divisions at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, where he is the defending track champion, and Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. Craig Preble, third with 308 points, has six wins and a pair of fourth-place finishes in eight starts in the dirt Late Model divisions at I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb., and Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb.
Bill Leighton and Matt Buller, who race the two Nebraska ovals with Preble, are fourth and fifth, respectively.
Philip Morris, the two-time defending national champion who is chasing his fourth title overall, is seventh with a pair of wins.
Rocco had a strong start last season with five wins in his first nine starts. But he struggled down the stretch and eventually fell short to Morris. One of the missing ingredients was consistent success at Waterford, a tight, banked third-mile, where he didn’t collect his fourth win until July. It was a victory, though, in a mid-season 100-lap event that has provided the momentum for this season’s surge out of the gate. He already has four wins there this season.
Prior to that race, Rocco switch over to a Troyer chassis. He brought it to the track intending just to shake it down for the following week. Instead, he wound up running it – winning the pole, starting sixth following the redraw and then leading nearly every lap to win the race.
“We just really got our stuff together with the chassis,” Rocco said. “Since then, we’ve been really strong with that car. As long as we’re running, we’re in contention to win.
“As long as things keep going our way and we keep the wheels on it, I don’t see why we can’t keep winning there.”
One of the reasons Rocco has to be optimistic is the strong car-counts at the three tracks he runs at. This season, the maximum field is 20 cars. In five of his six wins, Rocco has collected the maximum amount of points. Preble has done so four times and Johnson twice.
Under the points structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner received two points for every car in the event up to 20. Second place received two fewer points, and so-on through the field. Race winners received an additional five bonus points. For example, if there are 20 cars, the winner received 45 points, second gets 38 and third 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner received 35 points, second gets 28 and third 26.
A driver’s best 18 results are counted toward their state and national points totals.
Track, state and province, and the top three finishers in the national standings earn invitations to the 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet. The winner of the national championship will also earn a secure spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
National Top 500 NASCAR Points Leaders
Pos Driver Track Starts Wins T-5 T-10 Points
1 Keith Rocco Waterford Speedbowl 8 6 8 8 342
2 Justin T Johnson South Boston Speedway 9 5 7 9 337
3 Craig Preble I-80 Speedway 8 6 8 8 308
4 Bill Leighton, Jr I-80 Speedway 9 0 8 9 278
5 Matt Buller I-80 Speedway 8 1 6 8 243
6 Marty Ward Greenville-Pickens Speedway 8 4 8 8 240
7 Philip Morris Motor Mile Speedway 8 2 5 6 232
8 Travis Swaim Caraway Speedway 9 2 7 9 232
9 Toby Porter Greenville-Pickens Speedway 8 2 7 7 220
10 Tommy Lemons, Jr Motor Mile Speedway 7 1 2 5 191
11 Deac Mccaskill South Boston Speedway 6 0 4 6 182
12 Randy Porter Greenville-Pickens Speedway 7 1 7 7 181
13 Nick Smith South Boston Speedway 6 1 5 5 173
14 Andrew Kosiski I-80 Speedway 8 0 2 6 172
15 Jeremy Burns Greenville-Pickens Speedway 9 0 4 8 172
16 Mike Looney Motor Mile Speedway 7 0 3 5 170
17 Ralph Carnes Greenville-Pickens Speedway 8 0 4 8 170
18 Duane Howard Grandview Speedway 5 0 4 5 168
19 Les Siebert Junction Motor Speedway 7 0 2 7 166
20 Anthony Anders Greenville-Pickens Speedway 8 1 4 7 163
21 Jacob Brown I-80 Speedway 7 0 2 5 162
22 Stacy Puryear South Boston Speedway 6 0 5 5 160
23 Matt Scott All American Speedway 6 1 5 6 159
24 Jason York Caraway Speedway 7 2 5 6 158
25 Wayne Ramsey Motor Mile Speedway 4 1 4 4 157