Mike Looney (87) leads Connor Hall (77) early in the first 70-lap Late Model Stock Car race at Langley Speedway on September 14, 2019. Hall goes around on the high side as Looney slips back. (Jaden Austin photo)

Mike Looney went into the season’s final NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National points-paying weekend with two shots at garnering more points to extend his 10 point lead and secure his first National championship. Five-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion Philip Morris went into the final weekend with a longshot to win his sixth coming in 12 points behind Looney.

Neither driver scored a single point on the weekend after entering a pair of 70-lap Late Model Stock Car races at Langley Speedway on Saturday night. As they were struggling to even finish among the top ten in the twin features, Midwest driver Jacob Goede was taking somewhat of a longshot himself and making the most of it at Elko Speedway in Elko New Market, Minnesota.

Goede entered the night with a 10 point deficit and with less points to gain his Elko Speedway counterpart Nick Panitzke, who entered the weekend 10 points behind as well. Panitzke managed a third-place finish in the first race garnering him two points but Goede won the race and scored six points. Goede then sealed the night for himself with another win in the second race from a ninth-place start and earning maximum points with an eight-point gain for the veteran driver.

The two wins gave him 14 points and with Looney scoring zero points on the night with finishes of 10th and 12th at Langley Speedway, Goede should win the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National title. Goede spoke with the track announcer following his twin wins and talked about what it means to potentially have won the National championship.

“We felt like we were behind for the last month,” Goede said. “I didn’t win enough but I got a lot of seconds and thirds. So our point total, even though we were kinda up there, I knew we needed to win races. That was the only way we were going to continue to jump up because those guys were taking big jumps and throwing away fifth, sixth and stuff like that. I knew what we had to do, so the pressure was kinda on.”

Goede said he knew Looney only needed to score a couple of points and he wouldn’t have a chance to win it.

“I really didn’t think we had a shot to win this overall thing,” Goede continued. “I thought Mike (Looney) just needed to gain a couple of points and he’d mathematically lock me out of it. We knew we could try our best and whatever happened, happened. We brought a fast car again and got two wins on the night. I knew what we had to do but I did not think we could do it.”

Looney appeared poised to score points on the night after having a fast car in practice and qualifying on the pole for the first race at Langley Speedway but once the green flag fell it was all downhill for him. Looney dropped like a rock during the early to mid-stages of the 70-lap race and eventually finished 10th. His car was tight and he had hoped to have it fixed for the second race but was only able to muster a 12th place finish in that race.

Looney was dejected at the end of the night but could still laugh off the terrible run.

“Another stellar performance,” Looney joked to RACE22. “It’s been a rough week. I think we’re about three engine changes in. No lack of effort on my crew. We put a Chevrolet where a Ford sits and it messed up and we put another one in. We kinda got off in left field yesterday testing with a bum set of tires. We got a different set on today and it was a whole different racecar.”

Looney thought he had things going in the right direction after sitting on the pole.

“Was pretty happy,” Looney continued. “To sit on the pole and I thought they were in trouble there but man this old race track she’s got some tricks up her sleeve. Seems like we have the same trouble when we go to Myrtle Beach, any of the tracks that fall off more than a second we don’t have a grip on what we need in the setup to run a second slower than what we practice and qualify.”

Looney wasn’t about to hang his head over the bad runs and thinking he’s missed out on the National title.

“Very disappointed in our performance,” Looney explained. “Not disappointed at all in how the year has gone and the effort we put out. We ain’t hanging our heads a bit. Didn’t win the big cup but that’s ok. We’re still mighty little fish in a great big pond. The support that I’ve received in the last couple of weeks is absolutely mind-blowing. It’s really touched me and Billy’s (Martin) hearts.”

Morris came into the night as a longshot for the National championship but having won it five-times before Morris knew there was a chance and he and his team made the effort but didn’t get the results.

“Langley has always really tough for us,” Morris told RACE22. “A flat track, I don’t know if it’s me not communicating what I need but we’ve been good here so we were hopeful. But, I see the full moon so I got a pretty good idea. It just wasn’t in the cards for us but we had to do what we had to do. We gave it a valiant effort there, I missed qualifying to get back to ninth and I just used a lot of tire to get to the front. You can’t come back from that, you saw that in the second race.”

It wasn’t the night either driver wanted and it might well have cost Looney his points lead but that won’t be official until Wednesday. Goede looks to be the National champion but anything can happen when NASCAR recalculates the points and rechecks NASCAR license info and etc.