Decorated Driver Collects LaCrosse & State Championships
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 18, 2014) — The genesis of Steve Carlson’s 2014 title run originated not too long after his 2013 season came to a close.
“After winning it last year, my car owner and me talked about it,” said the 57-year-old West Salem, Wisconsin, driver. “And we said we’d like to do it again.
“And luckily we pulled it off.”
Carlson won his fifth Kwik Trip Late Model Division championship – and second in a row – at the .545-mile paved oval. The 2007 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion is one of the most decorated short-track racers in NASCAR.
In addition to his weekly series honors, is also a five-time champion of NASCAR’s former Midwest Series for Late Models, and a four-time champion of the former ARTGO Challenge Series. Carlson won his first track title at LaCrosse in 1978. He’s added track titles in 2007-08 and the Wisconsin championship in 2013.
Carlson also added the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Wisconsin title this year to his lengthy resume. Carlson will be honored at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards at the NASCAR Hall of Fame / Charlotte Convention Center on Friday, Dec. 12.
NASCAR will crown 58 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champions across the United States and Canada. In addition, NASCAR will celebrate the top three finishers in the national standings, as well as U.S. state and Canadian province champions, top finishers in the Div. II-V and special award winners in Charlotte.
It was at last year’s awards that Carlson and his car owner, John Gilbertson, first talked about their 2014 plans. While Carlson was a familiar face at NASCAR’s year-end awards, it was Gilbertson’s first NASCAR championship.
The experience resonated.
“When you win the NASCAR championship, it’s a lot of fun,” said Carlson, who doesn’t run as many regional touring races anymore and prefers to stick to Saturday nights at LaCrosse, which is located just seven blocks from his race shop. “NASCAR really takes care of their champions. They treat us well and have a lot of fun.”
Carlson had five wins, 14 top fives and 14 top 10s in 16 starts at LaCrosse. He won the track title by 33 points over Brad Powell. Carlson’s son, Michael, finished third in the championship points. Steve Carlson, who led the division in wins, also the state title by 22 over Powell.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I drivers are ranked by their best 18 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of – up to 18 cars – and three points for a win, with an additional two points available if the driver starts 10th or lower.
It wasn’t as easy as it looked.
Carlson had a sizable lead throughout the summer. However, the lead nearly evaporated at the end of August. On the night of the track’s two 20-lap Late Model features, Carlson was involved in an accident in the first race.
“We knocked it to pieces,” Carlson said. “There was no getting it fixed for the second feature.”
One of the other racers, Todd Korish, led Carlson take his car out for the second feature. Although he finished outside the top 10, the fact he was able to compete in both races kept him in the points lead.
“Without Todd’s help we never would have won the title,” Carlson said. “I had a real big lead up to that point and it closed it right up to where I had to really run good those last couple weeks to clinch it.”
Craig Johnson is Carlson’s crew chief and Toby Nuttleman is car chief. Team members include Chris Johnson and Al Hemmersback. Sponsors include Ziegler Heating and Refrigeration, Coulee Region Diesel Repair, W.A. Roosevelt, and Johnny’s Hobbies.
After 13 NASCAR championships and countless wins over the last 35 years, Carlson isn’t ready to hang it up just yet. And he insists he doesn’t dwell much on the accomplishments he’s racked up over the years.
“Maybe someday, when I quit,” Carlson said. “All I’ve ever wanted to do was just win the next race.”
Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 58 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.
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.