Eight NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series mechanics and crew members have been honored with the series’ annual Craftsman Mechanic of the Year awards, which are determined by a vote of NASCAR members. Each of the eight Craftsman Mechanic of the Year regional winners will receive $1,500 plus a 36-inch Craftsman Professional Chest and Tool Cart, valued at more than $2,000.
Atlantic Region … Dexter Canipe, the 1997 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national champion, retired from driving but hasn’t gone far from the sport. Canipe, 44, is now the crew chief for his son – Dexter Canipe Jr. – in the Limited Late Model division at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The senior Canipe, a resident of Claremont, N.C., has now added the title of Atlantic Region Craftsman Mechanic of the Year to his illustrious career records.
East Coast Region … Charles Okerson, of Freehold, N.J., is a former driver who now serves as car owner and crew chief for his two sons – 25-year-old Chas and 23-year-old Jared Okerson – at Wall Township (N.J.) Speedway. Chas competes in the Pro Stock division while Jared competes in Street Stocks. Motorsports runs deep in this family: Okerson’s youngest son, Kyle, competes in drag racing.
Heartland Region … Andy Bozell’s seventh Kalamazoo (Mich.) Speedway track championship and first NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series regional championship aren’t the only hardware going to his No. 83 Super Late Model team. Crew chief Danny Foote, of Kalamazoo, won the Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award for this region as well.
Midwest Region … Jared Wyman, of Griswold, Iowa, received the most votes in the Midwest Region and claimed his first Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award. Wyman, 20, is the crew chief for his brother, Mark Wyman, a standout Dirt Late Model competitor at Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa.
New England Region … Jerome Canney, of Barrington, N.H., earned the award thanks to his efforts at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H., where he serves as crew chief for Ricky Wolf Jr. Canney’s award makes two for the No. 38 team – Wolf is the 2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series New England Region champion driver.
Northeast Region … Forty-two-year racing veteran Wilmer Weiss, of Hamburg, Pa., won the Northeast Region Craftsman Mechanic of the Year award at Big Diamond Raceway in Minersville, Pa. Weiss works on the Dirt Modified car driven by his son, Kyle, at the 5/8-mile dirt track.
Northwest Region … Jeffrey Campbell, of Parker, Colo., is a busy airline business manager who runs a multi-car Late Model team at Colorado National Speedway in Erie, Colo. The team’s drivers are Scotty Backman, a two-time race winner this season, and former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Rick Carelli.
Sunbelt Region … Sean Vincent, of Newhall, Calif., won the Sunbelt Region Craftsman Mechanic of the Year award. Vincent, 34, is the crew chief for Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway Super Stock driver Henry Miles.
The eight regional winners are eligible for yet another prize – the overall Craftsman Mechanic of the Year national award. They’ll be taken to Nashville for the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series awards banquet, Oct. 30 at the exquisite Gaylord Opryland Resort, where the national award winner will be revealed in a surprise announcement. The national winner is determined as the regional winner who received the most votes overall, however, that information remains confidential until the night of the banquet. The 2004 Craftsman Mechanic of the Year national award winner receives a $5,000 bonus.