Dominance. That seems to be the perfect word to describe Late Model driver Paul Wilmoth, Jr.'s 2000 racing season so far.
The 29-year-old Clarksburg driver rolled to some impressive finishes in the first half of the season. Wilmoth has captured 12 feature wins coming into last weekend and added four second-place finishes, one third place and one fourth place with only a couple DNF's.
"I don't know how to explain the dominance," Wilmoth said. "It's been a good year. I credit it to a new race car and a new engine. I'd say my experience driving different race cars that haven't been top of the line over the years has helped my driving ability. Now that I've got into a new car with a new motor, it's a little easier to drive. The car is more consistent from week to week."
Wilmoth's victories this season have come at Interstate 79 Speedway, where he has won six features, Tyler County Speedway (four), Roaring Knob Raceway (one) and Corridor H Speedway (one). Counted among his wins this season are two of the three legs of the six-race West Virginia State Championship Series held at I-79 and Tyler County's Spring Fling, Firecracker 40 and the MACS "Thursday Thunder" events.
"I don't know why everything is going the way it is. That's just a part of racing," Wilmoth said. "You have good times, and you have bad times. Right now, it's just our time to win, and we've got to take it while we can. It's just been a really good year for us."
After a great first half of the year that exceeded all his goals, Wilmoth now sets his sights on two of the area's top prizes to cap off his season, the Labor Day weekend events at I-79 and Tyler County.
"I think we have a good shot at coming out with a victory. There's going to be more competition there, of course," Wilmoth said.
"The guys that do this for a living like Steve Francis, Rick Eckert, Chub Frank, Donnie Moran, Mike Balzano and those guys are going to be at those races. I'd say my chances at Tyler County are a whole lot better than Interstate because of the way I run down there. We have the track record down there, and I've won some big races down there. The track better suits my driving style, but I think we're capable of a top five at Interstate also."
Armed with a new rocket Chassis and a new Watson-Ruppel Motor, Wilmoth has been the car to beat wherever he's raced this season. Currently, he leads the points battle at I-79.
Wilmoth started his racing career when he was 18, stepping straight into his father's late model. After driving for different car owners for the last two seasons, he returned to the family-owned car this winter. Wilmoth credits a lot of his success this season to the experience he's gained and to the new equipment his team has.
A big part of Wilmoth's success is his race team. His crew includes three long-time members Kevin Jenkins, Rick Jenkins and Kimber Jacobs, along with Eric Hutson, Rick Barker, Brian Nicholson and his father, Paul Sr., who's been involved in racing for 24 years, and his brother Steve, who also drives in the Semi-Late division.
Wilmoth's sponsors include S&R Machine of Weston, NAPA Auto Parts of Saltwell, Jenna Marie's Family Hair Salon of Bridgeport, Car Brite of Clarksburg and Brown's Asphalt Paving of Parkersburg.
As the season winds down, Wilmoth hopes to stay consistent and run up front and win a few more features.
"The wins are going to get tougher as the purses get larger," Wilmoth said. "You always have more cars show up at the tracks. If we can stay out of the big crash or whatever and keep the car and engine in one piece and finish with a car that we can race next year, we'll be happy."