CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR’s future was celebrated within the walls that houses its history Saturday evening as seven champions in NASCAR’s touring series were honored at the Night of Champions Touring Awards at the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The ceremony featured the champions representing four different countries and top drivers from the regional touring series in North America and Europe, who gathered for the special year-end event.
The 2013 champions included Dylan Kwasniewski (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East), Derek Thorn (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West), Scott Steckly (NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1), Rodrigo Peralta (NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series), Ander Vilariño (NASCAR Whelen Euro Series), Ryan Preece (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour) and George Brunnhoelzl III (NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour).
· Kwasniewski, of Las Vegas, at just 18 years of age continued his assault on the record books by becoming the first driver to capture both K&N Pro Series East and K&N Pro Series West titles.
· Thorn, of Lakeport, Calif., earned his first NASCAR championship with three wins and 12 top-five finishes in 15 starts.
· Steckly, of Milverton, Ontario, Canada, claimed his third series crown in six seasons on the power of four race wins.
· Peralta, of Querétaro, Mexico, scored his first series title in his first full season of competition.
· Vilariño, of San Sebastián, Spain, won his second championship on the strength of seven victories.
· Preece, of Berlin, Conn., at 22, became the youngest Whelen Modified Tour champion in its 29-year history.
· Brunnhoelzl, of West Babylon, N.Y., won his third straight Whelen Southern Modified Tour title and fourth in five seasons.
“The drivers who graced the stage truly reflect the depth, talent and diversity of NASCAR in the 21st century,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president, regional and touring series. “And the seven NASCAR champions who were crowned embody the strength and future promise of our sport.”
Talented, young drivers have made their mark on each of the touring series and many were on hand to collect many of the awards presented.
“There are a lot of young faces here tonight that you will probably be seeing a lot more of in the future,” continued Silbermann. “They are the new ambassadors of our sport – fearless and very talented on the racetrack and eager to prove their mettle.”
In addition to the championship awards, each series rookie of the year was honored. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award winners were Jesse Little in the K&N Pro Series East, Dylan Lupton in the K&N Pro Series West, Cole Powell in the Whelen Modified Tour and Luke Fleming in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Top rookie performers in three international series were Alex Guenette in the Canadian Tire Series, Santiago Tovar in Mexico’s Toyota Series and Yann Zimmer in the Euro Series.
The Most Popular Driver Awards for each series were also presented during the ceremony. The seven drivers honored with the prestigious award were Ben Kennedy in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Cameron Hayley of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Guenette in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, Pepe Montaño of the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series, Freddy Nordström from the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Mike Stefanik from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and Andy Seuss from the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Montaño and Nordström were repeat winners from a season ago.