LPR will regain its NASCAR sanction this season for the first time since 2004 when it rejoins the Whelen All-American Series, creating a two-track, two-state circuit for area drivers and fans.
Earlier this year, the .375-mile banked paved oval partnered with Kingsport Speedway. LPR operates every other Saturday night and features Late Model Stock Cars. Kingsport features 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,” Bob Duvall, NASCAR senior director, business development, said in a release. “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 had good support from the area’s Late Model drivers. She said 2011-12 Kingsport track and Tennessee champion Nate Monteith and defending track and state champion Chad Finchum plan to race at both tracks. Ryan Stiltner, LPR’s 2013 Late Model champion, also 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 and 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 LPR's schedule.
Lonesome Pine is the sixth track to join the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 2014. Other newcomers 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 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.