Pulliam Still Leads Nation; Rocco Rises To Fifth
May 21, 2013 – 3:09pm
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Luke Krick built his racing career step by step. His goal this year is to reach new heights in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition at Kalamazoo (Mich.) Speedway.
Krick competes in the Outlaw Super Late Model division at the .375-mile banked paved oval. His quests are to get his first career Kalamazoo NASCAR Division I feature win and improve on his best track point finish of seventh last year. He placed sixth in 2012 NASCAR state points with a record included five top-fives and nine top-10s in 13 starts.
“We definitely have some big competition at Kalamazoo,” Krick said. “There are at least 15 cars running within a couple of tenths of a second of each other. We’re going all out in points this year. That’s our goal.”
Krick, 30, of Plainwell, Mich., is sixth in track and NASCAR state point standings this week. Defending track and state champion Brian Bergakker leads the state NASCAR standings while Jeff Ganus leads the track point race.
Track schedules and weather prevented the top four in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national points from making a single start over the weekend.
Lee Pulliam of Semora, N.C., maintains the national point lead for the second week with 10 wins and 15 top-fives in 17 starts. Pulliam races pavement Late Models and has won at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C. and Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C.
Deac McCaskill of Raleigh, N.C., is second in points with five wins, 10 top-fives and 13 top-10s in 14 starts. He races pavement Late Models at Southern National and South Boston. Tommy Lemons Jr. of Troy, N.C. is third in standings with a 14-race record of three wins, 11 top-fives and 13 top-10s. He races pavement Late Models at Southern National, South Boston and Caraway. Fourth in points is Anthony Anders of Easley, S.C. His pavement Late Model racing schedule includes Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Greenville-Pickens, Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway and Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway. Anders’ 16-race record stands at seven wins, 12 top-fives and 14 top-10s.
Making his first appearance in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Top 500 this year is fifth place Keith Rocco of Wallingford, Conn. Rocco is the series’ 2010 national champion. He bumped pavement Late Model driver C.E. Falk III from fifth to sixth place in national points. Falk was rained out at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., Saturday. Rocco posted SK Modified finishes of 15th and fourth at Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Conn., and Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl Friday and Saturday respectively. With a 10-race record of four wins, seven top-fives and eight top-10s, Rocco leads Falk by three points for fifth place in national standings.
Krick drives a car owned by his grandfather, Paul Fitzpatrick, a 60-year veteran car owner. Economics dictate that Fitzpatrick and Krick rely on knowledge and experience more than the latest racing equipment. Their race car began life as a 2000 Lefthander chassis for Limited Late Model competition. It’s been rebuilt, re-clipped and modified into the wedge-type Outlaw Super Late Model car that is prominent in Michigan.
“We race on a budget so that keeps it interesting,” Krick said. “I enjoy the time in the shop with my grandpa and I wouldn’t give that up.”
Krick grew up in Sarasota, Fla., racing motocross motorcycles for nine years. When he moved to Michigan after high school graduation at age 18, he knew Fitzpatrick was fielding Stock Cars. Originally the family racing patriarch told the youngster he’d never have family drive for him. Over the years, those who drove for Fitzpatrick include Bob Senneker, Chris Orr, Mike VanSparrentak and Bob Holley. Eventually Fitzpatrick acquiesced and hired Krick as his driver and as an employee at his Shelbyville Garage auto repair shop.
Krick won Pure Stock and Sportsman division championships, then came within three points of winning a Limited Late Model division title at Kalamazoo. Fitzpatrick put him in an Outlaw Super Late Model about five years ago and they won a championship at Galesburg (Mich.) Speedway before returning to a fulltime schedule at Kalamazoo.
“Hands down the best Late Model competition in Michigan is at Kalamazoo Speedway,” Krick said. “It’s a fast track and you can’t just come in here for the first time and expect to win. It’s the kind of place you have to learn where to accelerate and brake, and find a line that’s best for you. It really takes time.”
Fitzpatrick is also crew chief for the team. Crew members include Cory Shoemaker, Willy Bozzo, David Oglesby and Nate Drake. Jerry Olney is the engine builder.
Krick’s nine-year-old son Jason is in his second season of racing Quarter Midgets at Little Kalamazoo Speedway, a twentieth-mile banked concrete oval. Krick is engaged to Gina Mele.
Now in its 32nd season, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. There are 55 sanctioned tracks throughout the United States and Canada that participate.
A NASCAR Division I driver’s best 18 results through the Sept. 15 closing date count toward their state and national point totals and the champions are decided on overall point total. Once a driver reaches 18 starts, their point total increases incrementally as they replace some poorer runs with better results.
Under the point structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, a race winner receives two points for every car in the event up to 20 cars. Second place receives two fewer points and so on through the field. Race winners receive an additional five points. For example, if 20 cars are in the field, the winner receives 45 points, second place 38 and third 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner receives 35 points, second 28 and third, 26.
Track operators also designate support classes as NASCAR Divisions II-V and drivers in those divisions compete for points in the NASCAR Finalist program. The program brings added recognition to support division drivers. Points are kept separately for asphalt and dirt tracks.