CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Andy Seuss smiled, pointed his fist and his NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship ring toward his team’s table and spoke Saturday night about achieving a dream.
Seuss was one of seven NASCAR champions, along with Ben Rhodes (K&N Pro Series West), Greg Pursley (K&N Pro Series East), L.P. Dumoulin (Canadian Tire Series), Abraham Calderon (Toyota Mexico Series), Doug Coby (Whelen Modified Tour) and Anthony Kumpen (Whelen Euro Series) to receive honors during the NASCAR Touring Series Champions’ Night in the Crown Ballroom at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center.
The 27-year-old Hampstead, N.H. native won three races en route to his first Modified title, but Seuss was quick to thank those who helped him make 2014 a championship season.
“I wouldn’t be here without my team, my family and my car owner, Eddie Harvey,” Seuss said during the banquet. “My wife didn’t say a word when I wanted to move 800 miles away to chase a dream. She left her job and came with me and supported me along the way here. My whole family did.
“One fact I’ll always point to about this championship is that we completed every lap but one. That’s a testament to the team we have working on this car in the shop and at the track.”
All seven drivers voiced their appreciation for their race teams and families in supporting them along the way to what was a first championship for every driver except Pursley and Coby.
Dumoulin also discussed his respect for his on-track rival, J.R. Fitzpatrick, who finished just three points behind him in series standings.
“I have to thank my competitors, because they’re who make this championship so special,” Dumoulin said. “J.R. did everything he needed to do. He won three races. We did everything we needed to do, too.”
Rhodes, at 17, was the youngest champion of the night and also the K&N Pro Series East’s Most Popular Driver. He won five races on his way to the series title in his first full season of competition.
“I remember sitting out there in the audience with my 19th-place participation trophy,” Rhodes said, “and all my crew guys saying, ‘Just wait. We’ll get there.’ And we got here. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to win a championship.”
NASCAR President Mike Helton presented each title winner with a championship ring. When Rhodes walked on the stage to raucous applause, Helton had a message for him.
“I’m sure we’ll see you at some other banquets sometime in the future,” Helton said.
Pursley made what will be his last banquet speech, because he retired at the end of the season. He recalled getting teary-eyed during the 2014 campaign’s closing stages – a sentiment his fellow drivers shared – while discussing his second K&N West title.
Calderon and Kumpen talked about achieving something they never thought was possible just three years before.
“This championship was a dream a few years ago,” Calderon said. “It was really hard.
“But now that it’s real, it’s way better than I could ever imagine.”