A NASCAR championship-producing Virginia short track rejoins the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series this year. The addition creates a two track, two state circuit for area drivers and fans.
Lonesome Pine Raceway, a .375-mile banked paved oval in Coeburn, Va., returns to NASCAR sanction this year. The track operates every-other Saturday night and features Late Model Stock Cars.
Lonesome Pine is now partnered with Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway. Kingsport, a .375-mile banked concrete oval, will continue weekly Friday night racing. Both tracks are now operated by Keith Stiltner. He appointed veteran Kingsport general manager Karen Tunnell as GM and promoter for both facilities. Stiltner was a two-time Late Model track champion at Kingsport 1998-99.
"The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series' return to Lonesome Pine Raceway is exciting news," said Bob Duvall, NASCAR senior director, business development. “There are so many great drivers and NASCAR enthusiasts in the region. Our partnership with Keith, Karen, Lonesome Pine and Kingsport is an ideal opportunity for competitors and fans alike."
Stiltner has combined the tracks’ operations under one umbrella.
“This is the first time Lonesome Pine and Kingsport have combined efforts,” Tunnell said. “The tracks will share the same divisions, rules, officials and race director. Because of the uniformity and just 40 miles between them, drivers and teams can now easily cross-over between the two. We think the fans will follow. This is what we’ve needed here for some time.”
Tunnell said she’s heard a lot of support from the area’s Late Model drivers. She noted that 2011-12 Kingsport track and Tennessee champion Nate Monteith, and defending track and state champion Chad Finchum plan to race at both tracks. Lonesome Pine’s 2013 Late Model champion Ryan Stiltner has committed to run at both tracks.
“There are six championships our Late Model drivers can race for now: two track championships, two state championships, the national championship, and an overall championship covering both tracks,” Tunnell said.
Lonesome Pine was previously sanctioned 1990-99, 2002-04.
NASCAR Late Models are NASCAR Division I at both tracks. Other shared divisions include Street Stocks, Pure Fours and Rookie Fours. Other Lonesome Pine divisions that will appear in rotation at Kingsport include Modified Fours, Iron Warriors, Pure Streets and Legends. Twin 35-lap Late Model features dot Lonesome Pine’s schedule.
In addition to Ryan Stiltner, Lonesome Pine’s 2013 divisional champions include Rob Austin, Super Street; Dan Hall, Pure 4; Rusty Ratliff, Pure Street; Lori Meadows, Powder Puff; Kirby Gobble, Mod 4; and Emory Ratliff, Iron Warriors.
Open practice days are scheduled for April 5 and 10. Opening day is April 12
In the past, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series drivers who ran full schedules at both tracks have exceled. Wade Day won track championships at Kingsport (2000) and Lonesome Pine (2002) along with NASCAR regional championships in those years. Most recently, Steve Blackburn’s 2004 Lonesome Pine track championship was accompanied by a regional title. Earlier era NASCAR Late Model stars included Johnny Rumley who won a regional championship racing at Lonesome Pine in 1991, and Jeff Agnew who won two titles at each track in the 1990s. The current NASCAR Whelen All-American Series state championship format was introduced in 2007.
In addition to Day and Blackburn, past NASCAR Whelen-All American Series track champions at Lonesome Pine include William “Tink” Reedy, 1991; Agnew, 1991-92; Tommy Spangler, 1993-95; Randy Ratliff, 1996; Clay Highberger, 1997; Stacy Vicars, 1998; Brandon Nichols, 1999; and Michael Kidd, 2003.
Lonesome Pine is the sixth track to join the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 2014. Also joining the series are Anderson (S.C.) Speedway, Autodrome St. Eustache in Quebec, Canada, Utica-Rome Speedway in Vernon, N.Y., Airborne Park Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and East Carolina Motor Speedway in Robersonville, N.C.
Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. More than 50 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.
Pavement Late Model driver Lee Pulliam, 24, of Semora, N.C., won the 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship.
Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.
More information on the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is available at http://hometracks.nascar.com.