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Alaska gets first NASCAR-sanctioned racetrack, will host Whelen Series

alaska raceway park

NASCAR has long sought to see a racetrack built in the Pacific Northwest.

Well, it will get that wish – kind of (albeit a lot further north) – Saturday when Alaska Raceway Park debuts a new 1/3-mile asphalt oval that will feature primarily late model racing.

That’s right, in the state of Alaska – as in the 49th state, the land of the Iditarod, Sarah Palin and 24 hours of daylight and darkness.

For comparison purposes, the new track is about 40 miles northeast of Anchorage and over 2,000 miles north of Seattle, Washington.

The new track will become the 60th sanctioned by NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series, as well as the first with such sanctioning in Alaska.

Alaska Raceway Park horizontal

Drivers in the series are now eligible to not only become state champion, but also to represent The Last Frontier (the state’s official nickname) at the year-end national awards banquet.

“There’s a big following for NASCAR short tracks, for NASCAR itself,” track co-owner Earl Lackey told the Alaska Dispatch News.

ARP has been primarily a drag racing facility since it opened in 1964, with sanctioning from the International Hot Rod Association since 1995. It briefly also had a ¼-mile dirt oval from 1980 to 1986.

In addition to late models, the track will also host mini-stocks, street stock, Legend cars and Baby Grands.

Follow @JerryBonkowski