CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Omaha, Nebraska’s Ryan Jenkins was among a host of young rising stars honored during Friday night’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Show, taking home two prestigious trophies after a season in which he catapulted into the national spotlight.
Competing in the B-Modified division at both Adams County (Iowa) Speedway and I-80 (Neb.) Speedway, the 17-year-old racked up 10 wins, 25 top-fives and 27 top-10s in 28 starts this year, scoring five victories apiece at Adams County and I-80.
The effort was enough to secure Jenkins the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division III national championship, his first title in NASCAR-sanctioned competition.
But in addition, Jenkins also collected the biggest honor for a young driver in NASCAR weekly racing, as he took home the third annual UNOH Youth Achievement Award for his efforts throughout the season.
The UNOH Youth Achievement Award is open to NASCAR drivers between the ages of 14-17 – drivers may accumulate points until their 18th birthday – and the final standings are based on a driver’s best 14 finishes regardless of division.
As the 2016 honoree, Jenkins received a $10,000 UNOH Scholarship and was recognized onstage Friday night at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C. during the awards show.
“I came here last year after placing third in Division III and never really thought I’d be talking (on-stage), but this year I was able to clinch the UNOH Youth Achievement Award and the Division III National title and it’s a great feeling,” Jenkins said during his acceptance speech. “I discovered UNOH a couple of years ago and saw they have a lot of great degrees involving motorsports … and I was instantly hooked.”
“Being a junior in high school, I know college is coming soon. It’s a blessing to think about what I’ve accomplished this year … with two track championships and a track title, and knowing that success is helping to pave the way for my future.”
Jenkins’ performances at his regular tracks were also enough to lock up track championships at both Adams County and I-80.
“Earlier this year, championships were the furthest things from my mind,” he admitted. “All I wanted to do was go out and win some races. I thank God every day for keeping me safe as I do what I love and for the opportunity to chase my dreams. I’m truly blessed.”
Past winners of the UNOH Youth Achievement Award include Dillon Bassett (2014) and Cayden Lapcevich (2015), who went on to become the youngest NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion in history this year.
So what does this year’s winner have in store?
Jenkins, who celebrated his 17th birthday in November, revealed his plans for the 2017 season following the banquet festivities.
“I’m definitely excited about next year,” he said. “I’ll be piloting a new RAGE Chassis IMCA Modified. We don’t have any plans on where to race just yet, but I know we’ll be hitting the bigger shows in the Plains (region) states and might do some traveling … venture off to some other states as well.”
For more information on Ryan Jenkins Racing, follow his racing page on Facebook.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as both the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series and the co-track announcer at Millbridge Speedway.
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