NASCAR Crowns Touring Series Champions In The Queen Cityby Hunter Thomas December 13, 2015 0 comments
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The 2015 NASCAR Touring Series Night of Champions was held at the Charlotte Convention Center on Saturday night in Uptown Charlotte.
Throughout the night, NASCAR recognized the champions of the NASCAR Mexico Series, NASCAR Euro Series, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, NASCAR Modified Tour, NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
The first driver to be recognized as a champion on Saturday night was NASCAR Mexico Series’ Rubén García Jr. The NASCAR Next driver captured three wins, four poles, eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 2015. The 2015 title is the first for García Jr.
“We were so close to winning last year,” García Jr. said. “Some many chances, inches away from getting back to Victory Lane, but that gave me much experience that I could apply to this year, that experience I learned last year, and we could finally get back to Victory Lane for the first time this year in Chihuahua. That win was really great motivation for me. Unfortunately I couldn’t make any burnout for celebration because I ran out of fuel.”
NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ Ander Vilariño hit the stage next. His first win of the season came at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in April. Vilariño went on to win at Brands Hatch Circuit and Tours Speedway in June, as well. The championship is the third of Vilariño’s career.
“Losing the 2014 championship by just one point was very hard to accept, and that puts this 2015 championship as the best of the three I’ve won,” Vilariño said.
Vilariño also went on to talk about the rivalry between his teammate, Romain Iannetta who finished out the 2015 season third in the championship standings. He said, “I’ve been a part of NASCAR Euro right from the beginning, and for you to know – I’ll just give you an example of what we Europeans thought about NASCAR before,” Vilariño said. “While my story with my teammate Romain Iannetta started back in 2011 when the series was not still official NASCAR series. He pushed me off the track in one race, and when he did it, again in another race, I was mad. I was mad, and I thought about the movie ‘now what would Cole Trickle do in this occasion’. So, I think you can image what I did. I waited for him one lap, and I wrecked him, and that was it.”
Andy Seuss, the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion became only the third driver in series history to win back-to-back titles. Junior Miller won the 2005 and 2006 championships, while George Brunnhoelzl III won three in a row from 2011 to 2013. This season, Seuss won three races, and captured five top-five and eight top-10 finishes. The 28-year old’s three victories came at Caraway Speedway in March, Bristol Motor Speedway in August and South Boston Speedway in September. Seuss won this year’s championship by only three points over George Brunnhoelzl III.
“It is truly a dream come true to be standing here as a champion in a room with such accomplished people,” Seuss said.
“We learned real quick also that last year we had luck on our side to be able to do that,” Seuss said. “That wasn’t the case this year. The statistic was thrown out the window on lap 13 of the season opener at Caraway. We left there last in points. But because of the great people and partners on our team, we were able to rebound with the stacked field with a lot of Northern invaders. Things were looking up. Then a wreck the next week tested everyone’s character again working hard to get the car out just in time for a green-white-checkered. It didn’t matter that we were 50 laps down and had nothing to gain. It’s what that team does.”
Scott Steckly was honored as the 2015 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion on Saturday night. Out of the 11 races throughout the 2015 season, he led 1,090 laps, won three races and captured seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. Steckly’s three wins came at Edmonton International Raceway, Auto Clearing Motor Speedway and Riverside International Speedway. The championship marks Steckly’s fourth in the series.
“The 2015 NASCAR Canadian Tire season was a terrific season,” Steckly said. “To be able to win four series titles and to be one of only 33 drivers in NASCAR history to do so is an incredible feat. Thank you to all the officials and everyone in NASCAR for your efforts in making this the best racing series in our country”
With an impressive seven wins, 11 top-five and 12 top-10 finishes, Doug Coby won the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship. However, despite the dominance, he only claimed the title by a mere 11 points over 2013 champion, Ryan Preece. In the last four year, he has won three tour titles. This year’s championship is his second in a row.
“I’ll have to admit that there was a point in this season that I was convinced that we were completely out of championship contention,” Coby said. “As it’s well documented, I destroyed our car at Bristol on lap 2, and with only four races to go, we were sitting 34 points back, and that was certainly the low point of our season, and it really seemed like an insurmountable margin to make up.”
Chris Eggleston topped Noah Gragson for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship by only seven points this season. The 26-year old won at Irwindale Speedway and Shasta Speedway, and he also captured nine top-five and 11 top-10 finishes en route to his first series championship. The 2015 season was the first full season with six-time championship winning team, Bill McAnally Racing.
“Well in all honesty as you all know, it takes all the right people, team members, sponsorship partners or pieces of the puzzle to create a championship winning team,” Eggleston said. “Last year, Bill McAnally gave me a shot to drive one of his K&N cars around my home track at Colorado National Speedway. With the help of this great team sitting here before you, we made the best of the opportunity and won that night in an event filled with NAPA hospitality.
“So Bill, for taking the chance on a stranger, a kid from Colorado, allowing me to compete under the BMR banner in a full schedule, I would like to personally thank team owner Bill and Deanna McAnally for giving me this opportunity to succeed in the K&N West Series, and what better way to thank you than to deliver you your sixth K&N West Series championship.”
At only 17-years old, William Byron stood in front of his hometown crowd to give his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship speech. Byron earned his first career series victory at Greenville Pickens Speedway in April, and throughout the 2015 season, he amassed four wins, five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. The NASCAR Next driver was also recognized as the Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
“Wow, this is awesome,” Byron said. “I want to start out by thanking everyone for being here tonight. What a great way to celebrate the year in my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. If I had to think of a word to describe this year, it would be teamwork. On a race team, each person has to do their job. There can’t be a flaw in the system to be successful. I’ll take a quote out of my spotter Brandon’s book when he says ‘If you do everything right, we’ve got them’. Well, I had the right guys around me all year. They believed in me from day one, worked hard and made all of the difference.”
NASCAR also recognized the top-10 drivers and car owners from each series, as well as the drivers who won the Most Popular Driver Awards. In the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Rico Abreu won the Most Popular Driver Award, and in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Nicole Behar was voted the most popular. Melissa Fifield was voted most popular driver in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and Trey Hutchens III was voted most popular in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Jason Hathaway won the honors in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, while Rodrigo Marban won in the NASCAR Mexico Series, and Alon Day won in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas