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Gomes crowned NASCAR’s top rookie driver

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POSTED October 9, 2009 2:03 a.m.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The inaugural year for the NASCAR Rookie of the Year Award presented by Jostens saw rookies collect 53 feature wins.

Leading the 2009 rookie class to the Nov. 13 ceremonies at the Concord Convention Center in North Carolina is Manteca resident Jacob Gomes, the series’ 2009 national rookie award winner.

Gomes, 16, collected three wins, 20 top 5s and 28 top 10s. The East Union High student competed in the Western Late Model division at three California paved tracks, including the New Stockton 99 Speedway, All-American Speedway in Roseville and Madera Speedway.

The state rookie award winners will be honored Friday, Nov. 13 at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet at the Concord Convention Center along with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion, U.S. state and Canadian provincial champions, track champions and special award winners.

Two females earned Rookie of the Year honors — Sloan Henderson of Franklin, Ohio, and Natalie Sather of Fargo, N.D.

Henderson, 17, made 29 starts at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway and Kil-Kare Speedway in Xenia, Ohio, where she posted six top 5s and 19 top 10s. Sather, 24, raced her first season on asphalt at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., where she had eight top fives and 17 top 10s in 17 races.

Paul Antley of Dacula, Ga., was the leading race winner in 2009, with 11 trips to the Late Model Victory Lane at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Ga. He was the only rookie driver to post double-digit Victory Lane appearances.

North Carolina Rookie of the Year Award winner David Wilson of Cornelius, N.C., raced at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, N.C., and Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway and posted three wins.

Other 2009 rookies of the year are:

Lloyd Spearchief, Alberta (Edmonton International Speedway); Richie Davis, Arizona (Thunder Raceway); Thor Gorseth, British Columbia (SunValley Speedway); Nick Burton, Colorado (Colorado National); Joseph Allegro Jr., Connecticut (Stafford Motor Speedway); Tim Noble, Illinois (Rockford Speedway); Scott Riechers, Iowa (Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway); Mark Underwood, Louisiana (Monroe Motor Speedway); Bradley Babb, Maine (Beech Ridge Motor Speedway); Brian Bergakker, Michigan (Kalamazoo Speedway); Robert White, Minnesota (Raceway Park and Elko Speedway); Randy Hall, Nebraska (Junction Motor Speedway and I-80 Speedway); Brandon Giannini, Nevada (The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedways); Jonathon Urlin, Ontario (Delaware Speedway); Addison Meitzler, Pennsylvania (Grandview Speedway); Maxime Paquine, Quebec (Autodrome St. Eustache); Justin Ashley, South Carolina (Greenville Pickens Speedway); Chris Abelson, South Dakota (Park Jefferson Speedway); David Polenz, Virginia (Old Dominion Speedway); and Darrell Nelson, Wisconsin (Superior Speedway and Cedar Lake Speedway).

To be eligible for the award drivers must have been first-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Feature Division license holders.

The state or province Rookie of the Year Award winners of each state are determined by that driver’s highest 18 finishes at NASCAR-sanctioned tracks within their state.

Since its inception, NASCAR’s national short-track racing series has served as a springboard in the careers of many top drivers. NASCAR stars Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Bobby Labonte, Jamie McMurray, Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers all began their careers racing their local short tracks.

 — Jason Christley (NASCAR)




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