NASCAR will sanction a marquee North Carolina short track when it reopens in March.
Southern National Motorsports Park, a .400-mile paved oval in Kenly, N.C., will be part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The track will operate on Saturday nights with Late Models as its NASCAR Division I. A 22-event schedule has been announced. Late Models will compete weekly in 150 lap or twin-75 lap feature events. A 200 lap race is scheduled for July 7.
“Southern National Motorsports Park is a great facility for fans and race teams alike,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president, regional and touring series. “Michael Diaz, Jerry Brown and Jim Dean have formed a great team to put this track back on the map.”
Diaz acquired the track as principal owner with partners Brown and Dean. All three have racing backgrounds as car owners.
“NASCAR is the best organization in racing,” Brown said. “Being part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series adds credibility to our track and recognition for people who race with us.”
In addition to the headline Late Model division weekly racing will include Limited Late Models, Street Stocks and four cylinder U-Cars. Legends Cars, Bandoleros and Mini Cup cars will make appearances and special events for Super Late Models are also on the schedule.
Diaz’s son Mason has competed in the Bandolero division at Old Dominion Speedway in Virginia. Brown’s son Brandon drove Late Models to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Virginia Rookie of the Year Award in 2010. As a longtime Late Model car owner, Dean won NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championships with drivers Mark McFarland in 2003 and Philip Morris in 2011. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship contender Denny Hamlin won Southern National’s Late Model division championship driving for Dean in 2003.
Originally opened in 1993 as Southern National Speedway, the track was sanctioned by NASCAR from 1998 through 2008. It has been idle for three seasons.
In addition to Hamlin, past NASCAR Late Model track champions at the track include Jamey Caudill, James Kelley, Billy Lucas, Deaton McCaskill, Drew Herring and Corey Strickland.
Other NASCAR sanctioned weekly tracks in North Carolina include Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, Caraway Speedway in Sophia, Concord Speedway and Hickory Motor Speedway. Modified driver Burt Myers won the 2011 state championship racing at Bowman Gray.
NASCAR-licensed Division I drivers are eligible to compete for NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championships and point fund awards at the track, state, national level. State champions also receive customized helmets and racing uniforms from series sponsor Whelen Engineering.
NASCAR-licensed drivers in each track’s second, third, fourth and fifth tier divisions compete for points in the NASCAR Finalist program. The program brings added recognition to drivers who compete in support divisions. Points are kept separately for asphalt and dirt tracks.
More than 50 tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
The Southern National Motorsports Park website is www.snmpark.com and fans can get updates on Twitter at @SNM_Park. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series information is available at NASCARHomeTracks.com.