LOUDON, N.H. -- Twenty-five years. The 10 best drivers.
NASCAR named the Top-10 Drivers of the First 25 Years of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East on Wednesday. From its beginnings as a northeast-based stock car touring series in 1987, the K&N Pro Series East has featured a number of outstanding competitors through the years as it has evolved into NASCAR's top development series.
Heading the distinguished list of participants through the first 25 seasons of the K&N Pro Series East is Andy Santerre, whose four championships are more than any competitor in series history. Santerre finished in the top five in the standings in four of his first five full-time seasons, then polished off his career behind the wheel with a remarkable four consecutive titles.
Kelly Moore, the K&N Pro Series East's all-time wins leader, was second and two-time champion Brad Leighton ranked third. Three-time champion Jamie Aube and Ricky Craven, who recorded one of the most dominant seasons in NASCAR touring series history, rounded out the top five.
Mike Stefanik, Joey Logano, Ryan Truex, Dale Shaw and Dick McCabe – all of whom won championships and left a lasting impact on the K&N Pro Series East – brought home the top 10.
The following are the Top 10 Drivers of the First 25 Years of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East:
1. Andy Santerre – From Cherryfield, Maine, Santerre compiled more championships than any other driver in the first 25 years of the K&N Pro Series East.
After he earned Rookie of the Year honors during his first full season in 1993, Santerre finished in the top four in points the next three seasons and parlayed his success into opportunities in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He returned to the K&N Pro Series East in 2002 and closed his career as a driver with four consecutive championship seasons from 2002-05.
Santerre ranks third on the all-time series wins list with 23, which came at 14 different tracks, and he also ranks third on the career poles list with 15. He recorded 85 top-five and 119 top-10 finishes in 166 career starts. Voted the Most Popular Driver four times, Santerre has devoted his career after driving to developing young race talent and he currently heads the K&N Pro Series East program at Revolution Racing for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity initiative.
2. Kelly Moore – From Scarborough, Maine, Moore rolled up more race wins than any driver in K&N Pro Series East history.
A stalwart in the series from the inaugural season of 1987 through 2007, Moore recorded 27 wins at 13-different tracks.
Moore's crowning achievement in the K&N Pro Series East was his 1995 title, but he finished in the top 10 in the final standings in each of his 17 full-time seasons, including three times as the championship runner-up.
He also holds career records for top fives (125), top 10s (192), stand-alone starts (300) and total starts (331).
3. Brad Leighton – From Center Harbor, N.H., Leighton's distinguished K&N Pro Series East career was highlighted by back-to-back championships in 1999-2000.
Leighton got his feet wet in the series in 1995, then finished in the top five in the standings in six of the next seven years, his only full-time campaigns.
He ranks second on the all-time wins list with 24, which were recorded at 12-different tracks, and eight of those wins came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
In 164 total starts, Leighton recorded 74 top fives and 103 top 10s. He also garnered Rookie of the Year honors in 1996 and was voted the Most Popular Driver in 2000.
4. Jamie Aube – From Manchester, N.H., Aube earned the K&N Pro Series East championship in each of his first three seasons in the series, 1988-90.
A full-time competitor in 14 of the 20 seasons in which he made starts, Aube finished in the top 10 in the final standings seven times. He finished with nine wins, 60 top fives and 113 top 10s in 249 stand-alone starts and 291 total races.
He is one of three K&N Pro Series East drivers to earn a win in combination races with the NASCAR Nationwide Series along with Ricky Craven and Dick McCabe. Aube's combo win came in his first series start at Oxford Plains Speedway in 1987.
5. Ricky Craven – From Newburgh, Maine, Craven's impact in the K&N Pro Series East was immediate.
He earned Rookie of the Year honors and finished third in the standings in 1990, then exploded for 10 victories en route to the 1991 championship in his second and final full-time season in the series.
Craven's 10 wins – including five in a row at one point – still stands as the K&N Pro Series East single-season record and he compiled a total of 13 victories, 14 poles, 25 top fives and 35 top 10s in just 49 total starts in the series.
Voted the Most Popular Driver in both of his full-time seasons, Craven's 269-point margin of victory in 1991 is the largest in series history by 50 points. Craven moved on to have an 11-year career in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, notched wins all three NASCAR national series, and is currently a NASCAR analyst for ESPN.
6. Mike Stefanik – From Coventry, R.I., Stefanik is one of six drivers in K&N Pro Series East history that earned back-to-back titles.
His two championship seasons of 1997-98, however, may arguably be the most impressive of all as they coincided with back-to-back titles while simultaneously competing in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
While Stefanik's Modified exploits are well known – he was voted No. 2 on the NASCAR Modified all-time top 10 list in 2003 – his K&N Pro Series career more than stands on its own. Voted the 1995, 1997 and 2004 Most Popular Driver, Stefanik finished in the top 10 in the final standings in all eight of his full-time seasons, and in addition to his two titles he was also runner-up three times.
He recorded 12 wins at nine different tracks and notched 65 top fives and 102 top 10s in 164 total starts.
7. Joey Logano – From Middletown, Conn., Logano had an immediate impact in the K&N Pro Series East in much the same way as Craven.
While he only competed in one season, it was a memorable one, and one that reshaped the way the racing community looks at the K&N Pro Series East. As the first driver to take advantage of the lowering of the age minimum to 16 in 2007, Logano won from the pole in his debut at Greenville Pickens Speedway and went on to notch five wins and an average finish of fifth in 13 races.
He became the first driver in K&N Pro Series East history to earn Rookie of the Year honors and the championship in the same season, and topped it all off by winning the postseason NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Logano's 2007 performance launched a fast ascension up the NASCAR ladder and he's now in his third full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series.
8. Ryan Truex – From Mayetta, N.J., Truex followed his father and brother to the K&N Pro Series East and quickly established a name of his own.
The youngest of the Truex racing family competed in only two seasons in the K&N Pro Series East, but won the championship in both. After a slow start to the 2009 season, he reeled off seven consecutive podium finishes – including three wins – and eventually joined Logano as the only drivers in series history to become champions in their rookie campaign.
Truex's encore in 2010 also included a pair of wins as he capped of his career with a second consecutive title. He posted five wins, 15 top fives, 17 top 10s and 13 races led in just 22 career starts. He moved up to the Nationwide Series for a part-time schedule in 2011.
9. Dale Shaw – From Conway, N.H., Shaw's long and distinguished career was highlighted by the 1994 K&N Pro Series East title. He ranks fourth on the series' career wins list with 19, which came at 11-different tracks.
While he competed on both a full- and part-time basis from 1987 to 2005, Shaw finished in the top 10 in the final standings eight times, including a runner-up effort in 2000. He totaled 88 top fives and 138 top 10s in 267 total starts.
Despite racking up 19 wins, his 1994 title campaign went without a trip to Victory Lane, the only time in series history that has happened. Shaw continues to build race cars and has been heavily involved in the development of his son's racing career.
10. Dick McCabe – From Kennebunkport, Maine, McCabe registered a remarkably consistent career that included back-to-back K&N Pro Series East titles in 1992-93.
McCabe was a full-time driver the first eight years of the series and finished in the top 10 in the final standings each time, including two runner-ups to go along with the pair of crowns.
He recorded eight wins, 55 top fives and a whopping 93 top 10s in 147 total starts. Like Aube, perhaps his highlight victory came when he won the combination race with the Nationwide Series at Oxford Plains in 1988 while representing the East.
The Top 10 Drivers of the First 25 Years of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East list was determined based on polling of select series media members in conjunction with NASCAR administration and members of the competition and communications staffs. Drivers selected for the list were deemed to have made a significant impact on the history of the series and emphasis was placed on championship and race victories.
The Top 10 Drivers of the First 25 Years will join the current class of competitors at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this Friday, July 15, for 55th running of the K&N Pro Series East at the 'Magic Mile.' The honorees will participate in an afternoon autograph session and will be part of the New England 125 pre-race ceremonies.