It all starts here.
For many of the drivers who maintain dreams of competing in NASCAR’s top national series, the road begins in the NASCAR Regional ranks – the ARCA Menards Series, the Whelen Modified Tour and the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series.
Three platforms. Endless opportunities. One ladder to the big leagues of stock-car racing.
Previously known as NASCAR Roots, the NASCAR Regional landscape is a proving ground for budding stars. Yet it’s also the home of veteran racers who are addicted to the adrenaline that comes with pushing a race car to its limits.
Young drivers. Seasoned drivers. Stock cars. Modifieds. Short tracks. Dirt tracks. Superspeedways. Road courses. NASCAR Regional has it all.
A midwest-based sanctioning body for stock-car racing, the ARCA Menards Series is among the three pillars of the NASCAR Regional platform. It’s known as the primary feeder for NASCAR’s national series.
With good reason, the ARCA Menards Series has a refrain: “We Build Champions.”
Each of the last seven NASCAR Cup Series title winners has competed on the circuits that now make up the ARCA Menards Series. In addition to the national ARCA Menards Series that features 20 races at 19 tracks across the United States, the platform includes the ARCA Menards Series East and the ARCA Menards Series West.
NASCAR stars like Benny Parsons, Chase Briscoe, Ty Gibbs, Chris Buescher, Sheldon Creed, Justin Allgaier, Ty Dillon, Grant Enfinger, Christian Eckes and Nick Sanchez, to name a few, have won ARCA Menards Series (national) championships. Countless others have won races on the platform.
Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, William Byron, Harrison Burton, Justin Haley, Ben Rhodes, Tyler Ankrum, Sam Mayer and Sammy Smith are East Series champions. Hershel McGriff, Kevin Harvick, Brendan Gaughan, Todd Gilliland and Jesse Love are among the notable NASCAR names who have secured West Series titles.
The ARCA Menards Series features remarkable diversity in both its roster of drivers and its offering of race tracks. The series competes at short tracks, intermediate tracks, superspeedways, dirt ovals and road courses all within the frame of a single season.
Hence the series’ ability to showcase the all-around skills of competitors.
Another of the three NASCAR Regional pillars is the Whelen Modified Tour. And it’s crucial, as the Modified class is NASCAR’s oldest division.
Won by Red Byron, NASCAR’s first points-paying race in 1948 was a Modified division event held on the beach course in Daytona Beach, Florida. To this day, Modifieds are an intoxicating part of the sport.
The current Modified Tour ran its first season in 1985. Affectionately known as “Ground Pounders,” modern Modifieds continue to wow crowds and provide exhilarating experiences for drivers. As former NASCAR national series driver Joey Coulter said in 2022, “it’s like racing a fighter jet.”
Most of the Modified Tour schedule takes place in the northeast corner of the United States, though the series does also visit Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. In New England, though, Modified racing is king. And the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is the pinnacle of the discipline.
The best in Modified racing have claimed NASCAR championships: Richie Evans, Mike Stefanik, Jerry Cook, Tony Hirschman, Bugs Stevens, Doug Coby and Justin Bonsignore, to name a few. Other Modified Tour champions like Jimmy Spencer and Ryan Preece have successfully transitioned to NASCAR’s national series.
The third pillar that makes up NASCAR Regional is the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series. It serves as NASCAR’s national championship program for short-track racing.
Each year, nearly 10,000 drivers compete at NASCAR-sanctioned short tracks throughout the United States and Canada. The Weekly Series crowns champions at track, state/provincial, regional and national levels.
The Weekly Series includes almost 50 unique tracks that provide the stage for local drivers to gain popularity among the community. These tracks are spread across 25 states and four provinces, with drivers able to gain competition points at any of them. The inclusion of both asphalt and dirt tracks allows for a variety of cars to be raced weekly.
Many competitors use the Weekly Series as starting points for their careers. The various divisions and levels provide a ladder-climbing system that allows drivers to move higher within the series and compete at a national level.