Local driver wins NASCAR championship

By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer

A Granum driver has won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series just a year after being named its top rookie.

Thomas Payne secured the championship after a stellar series that saw him win six of 16 events and reach the podium, that is finish in the top three, in every single event.

“(It was) a good run,” Payne said.

Originally from Tilley, New Brunswick, Payne started racing in Maine when he was 16.

“For the love of the sport,” he said. “The adrenaline rush.”

Work brought him out west where he soon got back into the sport.

“I missed it,” he said. “It’s one of those things, once you get into you’re hooked.”

Three years ago he picked up his car in Calgary, a 1985 SS Monte Carlo body, which was an old Race City Speedway car, and rebuilt it.

Last year was his first season in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, but he was only able to run about three-quarters of the time.

However, he made his time on the track count.

At one point he was sitting 14th in the standings, but moved all the way up to fourth by the end of the season.

His efforts earned him rookie of the year honours.

Coming into this year, Payne set his sights even higher.

“Back in the spring we decided to run for the championship,” he said.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series takes place weekends at the Edmonton International Raceway in Wetaskiwin.

Races are on an oval, asphalt track and can run anywhere from 30 to 100 laps.

Points are awarded by position, and Payne won as many as 55 points one night.

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