DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — It’s a record that has stood for more than 50 years, established by one of the legends of NASCAR: David Pearson won 17 races at historic Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway in 1959 en route to the track title.
The mark was matched by Dexter Canipe in 1997 in Canipe’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship season. Canipe is the only driver in track history to take home the national title.
Now, Marty Ward not only can match that longstanding win mark, but in doing so, he will be right in the hunt to duplicate Canipe’s feat. Just as important to the 44-year-old Marietta, S.C., driver would be the chance to tie Donnie Bishop’s record of six Greenville Pickens Late Model championships.
“To be tied with Donnie Pearson would be great,” Ward said. “But right now my goal is to win these points. I never have went points racing; I’ve always said wins will take care of the points. It might be a sign of getting older. Going to win races and going points racing, those two things don’t mix too good.”
Ward has done okay balancing the two. Currently fourth overall in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, he has 13 wins in 19 starts on the half-mile asphalt oval. He has five races left to break the record Pearson established.
In addition, he has a chance to erase his poor performances. He was able to drop one of his only two finishes outside the top 10 with a pair of third-place finishes in the track’s Twin 50s this past weekend, and his continued hot streak could drastically increase his points total in the final month. A driver’s top 18 finishes are counted toward U.S. state and Canadian provincial championships and the overall NASCAR Whelen All-American Series title.
Ward has won 10 of his last 14 races.
Keith Rocco of Wallingford, Conn., leads the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series points for the seventh week in a row as the top three drivers remain the same.
Rocco has 11 wins and 21 top fives in 31 starts for 792 points. He failed to improve his points total this past week with a third and a 15th in twin Modified features at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway and a 19th at the Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl.
Defending champion Philip Morris of Ruckersville, Va., was 19th at Motor Mile in Radford, Va., and remains at 779 points. Bill Leighton Jr. moved to one point behind Morris. The Omaha, Neb., driver was fourth at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb., and then scored a win and a fourth the next night at I-80 Speedway in Omaha.
CE Falk won his eighth race of the season and first at South Boston (Va.) Speedway this past weekend, and is fifth in overall points with 688.
Ward retired briefly in 2007 after his father passed away, only to come back last year and win his fifth championship. He also had 13 wins and finished third in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship.
“The goal this year was to come back and win the track points,” said Ward, who won track championships in 1990-91, 2002-03 and 2008. “That was my goal after my dad passed; to come back and tie Donnie. I’m on the verge.”
The deadline for races to count toward NASCAR Whelen All-American Series state and national championship points is Sunday, Sept. 13. The final points standings are scheduled to be released Wednesday, Sept. 16.
Track, state and province, and the national champion earn invitations to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet in Concord, N.C., Friday, Nov. 13. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion also earns a secure spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, to be held at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) Jan. 29-30, 2010.
Under the points structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner will receive two points for every car in the event up to 23 cars. Second place will receive two fewer points, and so-on through the field. For example, if there are 23 cars, the winner receives 46 points, second gets 44 and third 42. If there are 15 cars, the winner receives 30 points, second gets 28 and third 26. Race winners receive an additional five bonus points.
National Top 500 NASCAR Point Leaders
Pos Driver Track Starts Wins T-5 T-10 Points
1 Keith Rocco Waterford Speedbowl 31 11 21 23 792
2 Philip Morris Motor Mile Speedway 22 7 15 18 779
3 Bill Leighton, Jr I-80 Speedway 25 8 23 23 778
4 Marty Ward Greenville-Pickens Speedway 19 13 17 17 705
5 C E Falk, III Langley Speedway 19 8 16 17 688
6 Matt Buller I-80 Speedway 24 5 11 21 687
7 Andy Eckrich Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway 29 6 24 26 683
10 Andrew Kosiski I-80 Speedway 25 2 12 22 648
11 Mike Wallace I-80 Speedway 25 0 16 22 640
12 Les Siebert I-80 Speedway 25 1 11 20 637
13 Roger Powell Greenville-Pickens Speedway 19 2 16 19 622
14 Jeff Larson Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway 20 6 13 18 616
15 Jeff Strunk Grandview Speedway 16 2 11 14 610
16 Nick Smith South Boston Speedway 22 5 11 14 587
18 John Moore All American Speedway 19 2 13 17 582
19 Tommy Lemons, Jr Motor Mile Speedway 22 3 7 11 579
20 Woody Pitkat Stafford Motor Speedway 19 1 11 14 565
21 Gary Glenn All American Speedway 19 3 10 15 563
22 Jake Meier Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway 28 1 9 21 563
23 Jacob Gomes--R All American Speedway 23 2 16 20 562
24 Clint Benson I-80 Speedway 22 2 7 15 558
25 Duane Howard Grandview Speedway 16 1 9 13 557