Chris Vannaussdle

Chris Vannausdle: 2021 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division V champion profile

A lot more people noticed when Chris Vannausdle showed up to the race track this season.

The Iowa driver gave fans something to watch, too. He won the sport compact division track championship at I-80 Speedway in Nebraska, and he finished second in the compacts division Adams County Speedway in Iowa.

His 12 wins and 24 top-five finishes in 30 races was enough to win the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division V national championship for the second straight season.

Vannausdle called his 2021 season “just a flawless year.”

RELATED: 2021 Weekly Series championship celebration

Chris Vannausdle
Chris Vannausdle poses with the trophy after one of his 12 wins this season. (Photo courtesy of Dawn Vannausdle)

For the second straight year, Vannausdle had to wait a while to get confirmation on his title. Both Adams County and I-80 finished the season in mid-September, and while he finished his races with about a 60 point lead, he had to sit and wait for more than a month and hope no one caught him.

Vannausdle ended up winning the title by 16 points over second-place Travis Pavlacky.

“My wife and I actually sat in the garage and looked for NASCAR tracks that week, and we couldn’t find anything close that we could feasibly drive to,” Vannausdle said. “So, to be honest, it was just like, it is what it is. We knew we had a substantial lead and wins, so we were hoping that was going to be enough to hold us.

“It’s a weight off your shoulders. It really was. I really don’t know what to say other than by God we did it, finally. And now we’re done for the year.”

After a grueling season going for a title in 2020, Vannausdle and his wife Dawn had decided they didn’t want to go for a second national championship. With most of the work done by just the two of them, and one track about an hour and a half away, it’s difficult for him to take time off work and fund that many races as his own primary sponsor.

But Vannausdle felt like he wasn’t able to celebrate his 2020 championship due to the cancellation of the NASCAR banquet and other events because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They wanted the chance to revel in another title properly.

“My wife and I had decided we were going to slow down, because it’s really expensive to race at two tracks, and we’re basically our own sponsors,” he said. “Around December it was like, ‘No, let’s slow down. We’re getting older.’ And I would say, probably around February we said, ‘You know what, let’s go for it one more time.’

“Originally we did not plan to go after it until the banquets got squashed last year and we said, ‘You know what, we really want to go to a banquet. Let’s go after it one last time.'”

The Vannausdles learned a lot from 2020 they were able to use in their 2021 quest for title No. 2.

“My wife and I got really good at maintenance and really checking the car over a little harder,” he said. “We caught stuff ahead of time before it broke at the track.”

Chris Vannausdle
Chris Vannausdle poses after one his wins at I-80 Speedway in Nebraska this season. (Photo courtesy of Dawn Vannausdle)

Not only did Vannausdle get to celebrate his own championships, but he got to be a part of his son’s, as well. Bryan Vannausdle won the compacts track championship at Adams County by 21 points over his dad. Bryan was also second in the sports compact division at I-80.

“He earned it like I earned mine, and I’m proud of him, and I know he’s proud of me,” Chris Vannausdle said.

The title streak for Vannausdle will end at two, and there won’t be a chance of him changing his mind next year. He and his wife are relocating to South Carolina to move their business, High Side Chassis, to a new location. High Side Chassis builds cages for sports compact and front-wheel drive race cars, and last season, Vannausdle built nine cars for Adams County and I-80 drivers.

He wanted to expand his business to an area where drivers don’t have a builder close by.

“We wanted to bring High Side Chassis to a new location with a new challenge. That’s really what we’re looking at,” he said.

He’ll keep racing in his new home, but it won’t be at a NASCAR track.

There’s no doubt, though, that no matter where Vannausdle is racing, people will continue to notice the two-time NASCAR national champion.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I’ve noticed lot more people noticing when we show up. Our name was always at the top of the list, and it’s pretty cool to have the announcer stating how you’re division five points leader and you were champion last year and stuff.

“We’re a pretty small cut little team. Just a husband and wife having fun.”