If the past few years are any indication, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division III Sportsman could be in for their best season yet. With defending champion Paul Lallier moving on from points racing and planning to just run select events, the division is primed for a new champion to rise to the front of the pack.
However, even though the 2019 champion will end up different than last year, it doesn’t mean you have to look outside of the normal to find the new title holder. Former champion Sparky Arsenault, who consistently shows speed each week and knows how to get the job done, has to be at the front of the discussion. Sparky finished fourth in the standings last year, but did visit Victory Lane, and is certainly going to be a threat to do the same this year. His veteran experience has proven to be important time and time again.
It’s also expected that former champion Scott Bruneau makes another run at the Sportsman division crown. Bruneau, who definitely has plenty of championship experience, is another driver who seems to find his way from the back to the front of the field each week. With car counts well over 20, Bruneau has to work his way from deep in the pack, without knocking the fenders of the No. 74, and he usually is able to accomplish his goal of consistency.
Outside of those two it might not be a bad idea to look into another member of the Lallier family. Tyler, who is the son of defending and two-time champion Paul, is going to try to keep the Lallier name rolling at the front of the pack. Tyler has consistently showed speed for many years, but seems to struggle to grab the consistent finishes he needs to be in contention for the title. Is 2019 going to be the year for him?
After crashing late last year, Craig Pianka purchased a car owned by former Sportsman champion Scott Serydynski Sr., and put it in Victory Lane just a few weeks later. With that new car ready to roll, Pianka is going to be one of the top drivers to contend with this season. A veteran of the Sportsman class, Pianka has plenty of experience behind the wheel, but will need to run consistently at the front in order to be a title contender come September.
A stout list of winners from last year are also expected to return. Former Sport Trucks champion and Pro Stock regular Kyle Casper will be back in the division driving the same No. 21 he took to Victory Lane twice last year. He showed speed each week, and was right up there in the thick of the championship fight for much of the season. Names like Corey Fanning and Ed Perry are also registered winners from last year.
Outside of them, veterans like Vinny Pangelinan and Ryan Flood have registered so far, while former champion Al Clements IV is also on the early list. Rookie of the Year contenders seem to include Jesse Jakubajtys, a former Nick’s Pit Stop Legends regular, and Karlie Williams.
The 2019 Sportsman season gets underway on Sunday, May 5, as part of Seekonk’s annual opening weekend, which will include a Custom Car Show on Saturday, May 4. The opening Sportsman feature of the season will be a Power 5 race, scheduled for 30 laps.