Thursday, December 4, 2008

Reuvers Honored In St. Paul - Minnesota State Champion Visits Capitol

(In Moses' rookie year, he race Elko Speedway on May 18, 2007. On lap 50, an accident caused him to pull it into the pits. He finished eleventh.)

Donny Reuvers is no stranger to short-track honors in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

The Dundas, Minn., driver is a former regional champion in NASCAR’s weekly series. In 2008, he earned his fourth consecutive Super Late Model championship at Elko Speedway and captured his second straight NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Minnesota state championship. Recently, Reuvers’ achievements were recognized by Governor Tim Pawlenty in a visit to the state capitol in St. Paul.

“That was real neat,” said Reuvers of the honor. “We got to spend some time with him and talk about racing. It was pretty exciting to do that.”

Reuvers had nine wins, 24 top fives and 26 top 10s in 26 races at Elko and nearby Raceway Park in Shakopee. In addition to his Elko track title, Reuvers finished seventh in points at Raceway, where he has also collected four track championships.

“I don’t think we’ve had as good a year as we’ve had in the past,” Reuvers said. “But we worked as hard as we could and still were able to accomplish some of the goals we set out to meet. Fortunately, I have a lot of good guys that help me out in the shop that were able to pick up the slack.”

For all the accolades he’s received over the years, Reuvers said it doesn’t get old.

“Never,” said Reuvers. “Honestly, it’s one of those things — NASCAR does a great job doing things for its champions — that it makes you strive to work harder so you get the opportunity to do it again.”

Just 26 drivers out of the thousands of participants in NASCAR’s grassroots, local-racing program – which encompasses tracks throughout the United States and Canada – earned a similar honor as U.S. state or Canadian provincial champion.

The NASCAR Minnesota champion was determined by the driver’s highest 18 finishes at NASCAR-sanctioned tracks within the state.

The crowning of champions in a U.S. state or Canadian province continues a tradition of honoring the best short-track racers which dates back to the earliest days of NASCAR.

Reuvers was also part of the contingent of champions honored at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet in Las Vegas in November.

And there’s no slowing down for the 32-year-old. Reuvers is a co-owner, along with his wife, and Pat and Mary Jo Remick, of Short Track Racing Experience. They are a short-track version of the superspeedway programs like the Richard Petty Driving Experience, offering two-seater, ride-alongs and providing Super Late Models to fans to get the feel of what it’s like to race around the track.

In addition, the group recently bought Raceway Park. While the deal will keep Reuvers from racing at the .25-mile asphalt oval, he fully intends to continue running at Elko’s .375-mile asphalt oval.

“It’s been a bit hectic,” Reuvers said of the offseason. “We’ve been learning a lot and talking to a lot of people. Putting everything together has kept us pretty busy.”

Minnesota has a long history in NASCAR. In addition to Reuvers, drivers Jeff Hinkemeyer, Steve Murgic, Mel Walen, Jeff Martin and Jeff Wildung have won NASCAR Whelen All-American Series regional championships over the past 26 years.

Since its inception, NASCAR’s local 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.

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