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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour




Traditions Are Built In NASCAR’s Grassroots
with Family Tradition
Denise DuPont

The grassroots of NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) is found at local tracks dispersed throughout United States and Canada. It is here where the passion of both racers and fans get together to bring us some of the most exciting times at tracks. It is also here where we see generations of race families pass on the wheel to the younger generation to continue the family race tradition.
On Friday December 13th, All-American teams came together to honor national, home track, and state champions along with series rookies from the 2013 race season. This year was the thirty-second season of the NWAAS competition and the tradition continues to groom and build the “Stars of Tomorrow-Today”.

For the second season in a row, Lee Pulliam from Semora, NC, captured the national championship. With two national titles in a row, Pulliam is now among the ranks of five-star champion Larry Philips and four star champion Philip Morris. Pulliam collected twenty-seven wins, forty top fives and forty-four top tens in forty-seven starts. He also captured NASCAR’s Late Model track championships at South Boston and Motor Mile which helped him secure the Virginia state championship for the second year in a row. Pulliam was also recognized for earning the series maximum 810 points to statistically finish a perfect season.

“We have been fortunate to have several good tracks around the house. We just went where there was a lot of competition and did our best,” said Pulliam about his race career. So far the family owned race team has scored seventy-four wins in what they fondly refer to as their “Checker Catcher” car.

Continuing a New England family quest for speed is Connecticut track favorite Keith “Kid Roc” Rocco. Following in the footsteps of his dad, Ronnie Rocco, he maintains a consistent driving style on the track chalking up an impressive series of wins and track records. Rocco finished third in the national title point race while winning a track championship at both Thompson Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl in Ct. His hard driving efforts also yielded him the Connecticut State Championship for the sixth year in a row. “This year was a really good year,” said Rocco about his 2013 race season. “Any year that you end up with track championships and the amount of wins that we had this year along with a top three on the podium it is just really great. It is just a hard accomplishment to do. At the same time you go out there to win races do it and the rest just comes along with it. We are very fortunate to have the teams that we have, along with the support and sponsors that we have to make all this possible. With that being said we just go out there to have fun, win races and the rest just comes with it.”

This year Stafford Motor Speedway’s hometown race hero, Woody Pitkat, added to his list of racing accomplishments the track’s SK Modified championship. Weekly Pitkat drove a Late Model and SK Modified competing for that number one position. Racing at Stafford has allowed Pitkat to carve out his own piece of race action and career accomplishments.

Pitkat was serious as he spoke about his latest championship: “The Stafford Championship is real good. It is definitely a huge feat and it is good to finally get it. It is probably one of the only things that I did not have yet on my resume, so it is nice to finally get it.” Pitkat clenched the Stafford 2013 SK Modified championship by the mere margin of two points over 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece. Weekly the two rubbed tires and did their sling shot moves to get to the front. “It has definitely been amazing to win the SK championship with the race so close and right down to the last race. You definitely think about the point chase all year – where you could have lost or gained more or where you could have been if you finished in only one more position on any given night. I I think that competition was hardest this year at Stafford. There were six guys that ran the tour (NWMT) competing at Stafford weekly. Adding to that the young guns that moved up into the series from lower divisions certainly brought the racing up a notch. It was one of the toughest years of competition. Racing at Stafford could probably be ranked as one of the toughest tracks for weekly racing in all of the United States.”

Third generation Jimmy Zacharias has continued the family tradition racing a modified at New York state tracks. For the second year in a row he has won the Chemung championship and added the state championship to his success. “It is a big accomplishment getting the short track championship and then the New York State Championship for the first time. We ran all four of the New York state tracks to get it and we worked hard at it.”

With NWASS festivities completed, teams packed up their awards to head back home to celebrate the holidays and when the new year arrives start their race cycle all over again.

See you next race season!

NASCAR All-American Series Notes:

Are you disappointed in a podium 2013 national title finish?

Keith Rocco
“I am not disappointed coming in third because everyone wants to win the national championship. It is very hard to do and it is nothing that you can control. You just go out there and do your best every week and if it happens it happens. With the new point structure that they will have next year I think that it will be a definite bonus for the New England guys that have to race from the back every week. It will be a good thing.”

Your thoughts on the tight race for the track championship at Thompson Speedway where Rocco raced to capture the track’s 2013 SK modified championship over Woody Pitkat:

Keith Rocco
“It was so hard to get the points when we only ran eight shows. We had five or six wins there and it is not like we were not in contention every week. The way the competition is there and the way the cars are and with the limited number of races it was hard to get a points lead. We had an awesome year there but we could not get away with the points. The last race I followed him (Woody Pitkat) after he got by me and I knew if I finished behind him, I was not going to have to force the issue and pull a bone head move and spin myself out and loose a championship. So I just stayed where I had to be and let it fall the way it did.”

What gives you the zest and energy to go out on the track and drive your heart out for a race win?

Keith Rocco
“It is in the blood it is what I know how to do. It is what my father did – just go out and win races. I have been working on races cars as I grew up and really it is just in the blood. It is what we live for.”

Woody Pitkat
“To be honest I have been racing so long it is just what I love to do. I have just been racing and driving to win since I have been little. I just do it. There are times when you just go out and drive then it is like you flip a switch and I drive totally different, out of control and totally on the edge. The crew then wants to know why I can’t do that from the beginning of the race. I wish I could be competitive from the beginning but it is just how I pace myself at the start and then build up my momentum as the race goes on.”
“To racers, racing is just our drug. We have to do it, you like to do and when you get out there on the track, your goal is to charge forward to win.”

Jimmy Zacharias
“The Zacharias involvement in racing all started about fifty years ago with my grandfather. He was a pretty good racer and he passed it on to my dad and uncles. They were all pretty good winning races and track and some state championships too. Racing is just in the family so you have to keep doing it. It is all that I have ever known.”

Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: December 16, 2013

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