DAYTONA BEACH, Fl.- A driver known for his on-track patience and consistency leads the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model division point standings in one of the nation’s most competitive weekly fields.
Todd Korish, 39, of Holmen, Wis., leads the track and state NASCAR standings racing at Lacrosse (Wis.) Fairgrounds Speedway, a .625-mile paved oval.
“We’re still trying to get a Late Model championship under our belt,” Korish said. “It looks like this year will be one of our best chances.”
Korish maintained his point leads despite finishing third in the feature Saturday night at LaCrosse. J. Herbst won that event followed by Shawn Pfaff. Herbst is the defending track and state champion.
Around the nation, variables in weather, track schedules and some performance issues brought the first significant shakeup atop the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series point race.
Three top-five finishes over the weekend vaulted 2001 national champion Ted Christopher from third place to first in national standings, displacing season-long national point leader Anthony Anders.
Christopher placed third at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway Thursday and fifth at Stafford on Friday. Saturday, he posted his fourth straight second-place Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway Modified division finish. A second place finish behind Paul Nogradi Jr. at Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway helped pavement Late Model driver Nate Monteith remain a steady second in national standings.
Only one driver in last week’s national top-10 managed a feature win over the weekend. Keith Rocco, the series’ 2010 national champion, won the 39th annual Coors Light SK Modified 100 Friday at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. The win and an eighth-place finished at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl moved Rocco from seventh to third in the national point race.
Anders dropped to fourth in standings with a 16th place finish at Kingsport due to a blown engine. Modified driver Ryan Preece moved from sixth to fifth in the nation by finishing second to Woody Pitkat at Thompson. The following night Preece blew an engine and finished 25th at Stafford.
Korish believes consistency over the long haul of the season is just as important as contending for a win every week.
“Last year we had one of the best cars I ever drove and we finished second in points. The key is going after the top-five and top-10 finishes, managing your tires and staying out of trouble. Everybody wants to win races, but I won the 1999 Sportsman division championship with one win and consistent top-fives.
“Some of the greatest champions at LaCrosse were always consistent and always there at the end of the race. Steve Carlson, Steve Holzhausen, and Kevin Nuttleman – that was their style.”
That trio of LaCrosse greats won plenty of races and championships, and they influenced Korish’s patient “big picture” style of racing. Depending on circumstances he might take third place rather than wreck trying for second.
Through last Saturday night, Korish has not yet won a feature event this year, but his racing record includes a stout four top-fives and eight top-10s in eight starts. He continues to lead the track and state points and holds down the 90th position in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Top 500.
“The competition at LaCrosse is fierce,” Korish said. “The top three finishers from last week and the top three in points start behind the inversion cars in the feature lineup,” Korish said. The number of cars inverted from qualifying can be up to 14.
Korish is a site superintendent for Ryan Inc. Central, a heavy earth moving contractor that specializes in landfill construction. Korish is based at a site near Des Moines, Iowa during the week, about 300 miles from his wife Kim and children Mercedes, Maddie and Mere in Holmen, Wis. Paul Malham Jr. of Paul’s Towing owns NASCAR Late Models driven by Korish and Adam Degenhardt. Korish’s father Tom is crew chief. Crew members include Charlie Schwabenbauer, Chuck Malham, Mark Seebauer, “Painter” Korish and Rodney Malham. The driver’s uncle, Bob Johnson of Holmen Custom and Collision, maintains the car’s paint and body.
A driver’s best 18 results through Sept. 16 are counted toward their states and national point totals, and the champions are decided on overall point total. Once a driver reaches 18 starts, their total would increase incrementally as they replace some poorer runs with better results.
Under the point structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner receives two points for every car in the event up to 20 cars. Second place receives two fewer points and so on through the field. Race winners receive an additional five points. For example, if 20 cars are in the field, the winner receives 45 points, second place 38 and third 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner receives 35 points, second 28 and third, 26.
Track, state and provincial champions and the top-three finishers in the national standings earn invitations to the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards event. The ceremonies are scheduled for Friday, Dec. 7 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame.