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Trevor Huddleston is in contention to do what only two other California drivers have done in the history of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
Huddleston, who is from Agoura, California, is hoping to join fellow Golden State natives Greg Pursley and Doug McCoun as just the third driver to claim the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship.
The 21-year-old driver has had an incredible season thus far, which has put him right in the middle of an intense title fight with three-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National champion Lee Pulliam.
The pair currently sit tied atop the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National standings with 667 points each with only a couple of weekends of racing left in the 2017 season.
“High Point Racing and RACECAR Factory this whole year have been giving me great cars,” Huddleston said. “We’re very happy to be in the top spot right now. Lee is a tough competitor and we know it’s going to come down to the end.”
Huddleston finds himself competing for his first National championship thanks to his strong performances this year at a pair of California speed plants - the Irwindale Speedway and Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield.
Between the two venues Huddleston has won 18 times. In 28 starts between Irwindale, Kern County and Arizona’s Tucson Raceway, Huddleston has 25 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes.
Those are impressive numbers and they have allowed Huddleston to lead the battle for the late model track championships at both Irwindale and Kern County, as well as the battle for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series California championship.
Will those stats be enough for Huddleston to beat Pulliam for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National championship? Huddleston doesn’t think so, so he’s laser focused on adding more victories and more points to his total before the season ends on Sept. XX.
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.
“We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing and get more than 18 wins,” Huddleston said. “I think we have about five races at Irwindale and then we have about four races at Kern County within the next four weeks. We’re going to be going anywhere we can to get those points and the full car counts. That’s key.
“Our main focus is going to be California because its the closest and easiest for us. If an opportunity presents itself and we have nowhere to race…whatever happens we will definitely make the trek to wherever we have to go to get those points, whether it be Utah, Colorado or anywhere that’s got a NASCAR track that has a good car count.”
Huddleston has two races that produced the maximum 41 points and 10 more than were 38-point victories. His worst finishes among his 18 starts that count toward the championship are four 34s and one 33. The only way he can improve his points is to win against a field of at least 16 cars, or a win in a field of at least 15 cars in which he starts 10th or lower.
By comparison, Pulliam has four 41s, a 39 and eight 38s. He also has two 34s, a 32 and a 30 in which he would need to improve upon with better finishes.
Perhaps just as importantly as a national championship, Huddleston could be the final track champion in the history of the Irwindale Event Center. The track promoters recently announced that the owners of the property would be shutting down the facility in January to make way for a new mall.
Huddleston acknowledged that while it would be an honor to be the final Irwindale track champion, it would also be an honor filled with heartache.
“That’s a track I’ve been going to ever since I was a kid,” Huddleston said. “That was one of the first race tracks I went to. My dad has a championship there. It’s going to have its pros and cons.
“It would definitely be cool to say I was the last track champion at Irwindale, but that’s also a bad thing.”
It goes without saying that it has been a career year for Huddleston and his progression up the ranks the last few years has been steady. Only three years ago Huddleston was ranked 131st in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National standings with no victories on his resume.
In 2015, Huddleston made a big jump up the standings, climbing all the way to 11th in the nation while claiming five victories and the Irwindale track championship. He climbed even higher last year, rising all the way to sixth in the nation after scoring 11 victories and his second Irwindale track championship.
“We’ve definitely noticed a gradual incline,” Huddleston said. “It’s taken a lot of the same stuff, dedication and hard work. All the guys at our shop from High Point Racing and RACECAR Factory, they put in numerous, numerous hours all through the night. We’ve just kept our heads down and had one goal, to be the best we can be.
“This year has been absolutely phenomenal. We’ve had 18 wins and a lot of good finishes. Things have fallen into place and here we are sitting at the top spot. It’s all dedication. Teamwork and dedication is what has helped us progress.”
So will Huddleston win his first national championship this year? That’s a question he can’t answer, but he knows that it would be a huge honor should that dream become a reality.
“That would mean the absolute world,” Huddleston said of winning the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship. “A national championship is something huge. Just to be competing with Lee, who is a three-time national championship winner, is an honor.
“For my name to be considered as a national champion is something that I couldn’t have dreamed of as a kid. It’s a goal that anyone in the United States would love to have. It would really be a true honor to have my name as part of that list with Lee Pulliam and Keith Rocco and Matt Bowling, all these people who really are some of the greatest short-track drivers across the United States.
“It’s not just me. It’s my whole family and my whole team. Everybody is so behind me that it wouldn’t be just a win for myself. It would be a win as a whole, as a group, as a family and it would be something that we celebrate forever."
Trevor Huddleston takes the checkered flag at California's Irwindale Speedway, where he is the two-time defending track champion. Sal Sigala Jr./3WideAnd1ToGo.com