Saturday, January 11 2014 the UARA will honor the top ten drivers of 2013. Not only will the UARA be honoring the top ten they will be crowning the 2013 UARA Champion Dillon Bassett. Special honors will also be presented to Rookie of the Year Garrett Jones. Bassett is the only Rookie of the Year to follow up with a UARA Championship. Bassett is the youngest champion on record for the UARA and Jones breaks the record as the youngest Rookie of the Year. 2013 was definitely the year of the young guns to show their talent. The UARA has been blessed with an amazing 2013 class of drivers.
The 2013 UARA-STARS season was one for the record books, for both good and bad reasons. Aside from a record number of cancellations and postponements, the record books also opened for performances by series teams and drivers that haven’t been seen before.
Ronnie Bassett, Jr., matched his opening act from 2012 by capturing the first two events on the calendar at Southern National Motorsports Park and Hickory Motor Speedway. It appeared that his quest for an elusive title was off to a perfect start once again, but events later in the year derailed it once again.
Prior to this season, a foreign-born driver had never won a UARA-STARS race, but Brodie Kostecki changed all of that when he took the checkered flag at Rockingham. Not only was he the first foreign-born driver to win in UARA competition, he was the first on the historic oval as well. He was the fifth Australian to compete in the series.
While the UARA has gained a reputation for becoming the best training ground before drivers move up to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, no one expected the youth movement to gain traction like it did at Hickory’s Banjo Matthews Memorial 150. In what has become a flagship race of the tour, 14-year old Kaz Grala stunned the racing world by passing Kostecki on the final restart and dashing to his first career win in any type of full-size car, becoming the youngest ever UARA-STARS feature winner in history. It was the second career start for the Massachusetts driver who made the jump to late models after success in US Legends Cars and Bandoleros.
The rest of the season was a battle amongst rivals. Garrett Campbell and Ronnie Bassett, Jr., each picked up four wins, while eventual season champion Dillon Bassett visited victory lane three consecutive times at both Caraway races and the event at Kingsport. They were the only other drivers to taste success in the 2013 tour.
But it wasn’t victories alone that captured the season championship for Dillon Bassett. On multiple occasions, Bassett’s qualifying program skipped a beat and placed him deep in starting fields throughout the season, most notably at both Tri-County races. He parlayed starts of 22nd and 23rd into podium finishes, maximizing the passing points bonus at each race and making it difficult for his point pursuers to catch him despite finishing in front of him.
In the season finale at Anderson, Garrett Campbell had no other choice than to make a qualifying attempt that placed him at the rear of the field, alongside of his championship rival Bassett. The duo had to race through the field and avoid trouble on the way in order to claim a championship. While the point lead swapped multiple times throughout the course of the race due to passing points and other bonus points, in the end, Campbell had to outduel Ronnie Bassett, Jr., for a win that would’ve given him enough points to tie Dillon Bassett in the standings and his first championship via the tiebreaker. Campbell didn’t have anything left in the tank on a late race restart, and had to settle for second, not only in the race but also in the standings.
If 2014’s UARA-STARS tour is anything close to the 2013 one, fans will be certain to get their money’s worth no matter where the tour stops. With record-setting winners, new faces in victory lane, and experienced veterans mixing it up weekly, the most recent season will go down as one to remember. And while some drivers from the tour will be advancing to the NASCAR K&N Pro and Camping World Truck Series, others will be back to defend their turf and battle for wins and championships. There is no doubt the 2014 UARA-STARS tour promises to be the most exciting one yet.
Press Release: Tony Stevens
Photos: Drew Hierwarter