Nick Joanides is the defending Super Late Model champion at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale                                                                                                     

Early Run Has Joanides Upbeat

Defending champion Virginia’s Philip Morris leads

Official NASCAR Release
May 27, 2009 - 3:43pm

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Nick Joanides figures it’s about time. By his calculation, the veteran driver from Woodland Hills, Calif., has had enough bad luck on the race track to last several lifetimes.

Now he’s enjoying the good times.

Joanides leads the Super Late Model and Late Model division points at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.). More importantly, his four wins and three runner-up finishes in seven Super Late Model starts has him fourth overall in the first release of the season for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship points standings.

“We’ve had a great season so far,” said the 38-year-old Joanides. “We won opening night and have been leading ever since. I’ve been very fortunate to have a great owner in Loyd McGhee.”

Joanides has 324 points.

Defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Philip Morris of Virginia leads the series with 440 points. Connecticut’s Keith Rocco is second at 407, followed by Nebraska’s Bill Leighton Jr. at 376 and Joanides. Matt Buller, who races against Leighton at I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb., rounds out the top five with 315 points.

Last year, Morris became just the second driver in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series history to win multiple championships. He started off his title defense by winning the first four races he ran. Morris, from Ruckersville, Va., has six wins and nine top fives in 10 starts at South Boston (Va.) Speedway and Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.



“I’ve had a good year so far,” Morris said. “It got us all pumped up right at the beginning. We usually don’t start that good. It usually takes us about five races to get a win. Now we’re just trying to get back in our groove where we normally are at midseason.”

Morris is coming off a 15th-place finish at South Boston in which he wrecked while battling for the lead and has spent the week getting the car put back together for Motor Mile this Saturday.

It’s a position Joanides is all too familiar with.

“I went through 15 years of bad luck,” said Joanides, who is averaging a series-leading 46.3 points per race. “You name it and it happened to me. I went through all the years of heartache. Everybody kept saying, ‘your luck will change.’ And year after year, I would say, ‘When? When I’m 90?’ “

Ironically, the turn came just when he was ready to walk away. He had already announced his retirement in 2006, but after running the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in Irwindale, he got an offer from a car owner to stay in the sport.

In 2007, he recorded seven top fives in 12 Super Late Model races, and won five times in the track’s Late Model division. Last year, Joanides rolled to 10 victories and 17 top fives in 21 starts. He captured the Super Late Model title at Toyota Speedway, finished second to Jason Gilbert in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series California state championship and ended ninth overall.

He also finished second in Toyota Speedway’s Late Model standings – missing a sweep of the championships by just eight points.

“The last couple years have made up for all the bad years,” said Joanides.

He hopes to continue that good fortune throughout the rest of 2009.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion also earns a secure spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, to be held at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in 2010.

Under the points structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner will receive two points for every car in the event up to 23 cars. Second place will receive two fewer points, and so-on through the field. For example, if there are 23 cars, the winner receives 46 points, second gets 44 and third 42. If there are 15 cars, the winner receives 30 points, second gets 28 and third 26. Race winners receive an additional five bonus points.