Whelen Southern Mod Race Postponed

Whelen Southern Mod Race Postponed

Forecast Forces Caraway Speedway Event To Called Off

SOPHIA, N.C. — A very unfavorable forecast of continued rain throughout the day prompted NASCAR and Caraway Speedway officials to postpone Saturday’s Prestoria Farms 150.

A makeup date for the event will be determined at a later date.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour is back on the track on Saturday, April 5 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway.

Woody Pitkat Shuffles Four Team Lineup

Woody Pitkat Shuffles Four Team Lineup

Two New Modified Rides for Stafford And Tour

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Woody Pitkat begins 2014 with two new teams in his four-team collaboration.

Pitkat, 34, of Stafford, Conn., won his long-sought first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified track championship at Stafford Motor Speedway in 2013. He won the title by just two points over Ryan Preece. Preece, 23, of Berlin, Conn., won the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.

This year Pitkat hopes to take his two new teams to their first victories in NASCAR competition.

Pitkat joined the Skowyra family’s Stafford SK Modified team for 2014.

“They’ve been around for years,” Pitkat said. “They have good equipment and a ton of potential. I hope I can be a piece of the puzzle that helps get them to Victory Lane.”

The car is owned by Les and Tina Skowyra and their son Adam is crew chief. Adam was a crew member with Preece and Flamingo Motorsports in winning the 2013 modified tour championship.

Pitkat also joined the Buzz Chew Chevrolet-Elbow East team and crew chief Ron Ste-Marie to run the tour’s full schedule this year. Pitkat’s goal is to get the first tour win for the Chew team and himself.

“This is the best opportunity of my career on the tour,” Pitkat said.

Pitkat’s best tour finish is second twice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon in 2011 and Stafford in 2012. Entering their fourth year of competition, the Buzz Chew Chevrolet team’s best tour finish is fourth at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H., last year.

Pitkat will continue running the full Sunoco Modified division schedule at Thompson for James Paige and the full late model division schedule at Stafford for Bill Snow.

Pitkat won the coveted Stafford title in a single-season stint with Gunsmoke Stables Racing owned by Steve Greer. In a pre-determined move, Preece became the Gunsmoke team’s driver for 2014 replacing Pitkat.

“In my only season with the team they did what nobody else did for me and I’m thankful for the opportunity,” Pitkat said of winning the track title with the Gunsmoke team.

“Nothing changes between Ryan and me,” Pitkat continued. “Ryan’s always been a good friend and we’ve done a lot of racing together.”

Pitkat won the Stafford title with a record of two wins, 12 top-fives and 14 top-10s in 18 starts. He placed third in the state point race and 13th in national standings. Rocco won the 2013 Sunoco Modified championship over Pitkat at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway Motorsports Park in a point race tiebreaker. Rocco had more feature wins than Pitkat, 5-2.

Pitkat also finished second in Stafford’s late model division point race last year. He placed 14th in the 2013 NASCAR Finalist Division II point standings.

Pitkat grew up watching races at the Stafford and began his racing career in Dare Stocks there as a 17-year-old in 1996. He won Thompson’s late model championship in 2002. He joined the SK Modified ranks in 2004 and won races and rookie-of-the-year awards at Stafford and Thompson.

In a previous format he won a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisional championship and the Thompson Sunoco Modified track championship in 2006. In the current format he won NASCAR’s Connecticut state championship and placed second to Steve Carlson for the 2007 national championship.

At Stafford he won the 2006 and 2012 late model division championships and is second on the all-time feature win list with 39. In the SK Modified division there he’s fifth on the all-time win list with 27.

Pitkat is a full-time school bus mechanic for First Student Bus Company in East Hartford, Conn. He is engaged to Erica Santos, sister of 2010 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Bobby Santos. The couple recently purchased a home together in Sturbridge, Mass.

Stafford Motor Speedway opens with the 43rd annual Spring Sizzler Apr. 27. The race day includes a 200-lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event, a 40-lap SK Modified feature and a 30-lap late model feature. Pitkat expects to compete in all three divisions.

This Is Martinsville, So The Odds Favor Hendrick, Johnson and Gordon

Jimmie Johnson is currently tied with the most wins at Martinsville – eight – tops among active drivers.

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Let’s say you came up to me to ask which driver, or drivers, would be a solid pick for victory in the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

My first question to you would be, “Why the heck are you asking me?”But if you insisted on an answer, I would say, “Pick Hendrick.

The odds are in your favor.”

Boy, that’s sticking my neck out, isn’t it?

I mean, Hendrick Motorsports is perhaps the strongest team in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition today. But there’s more to it than that.

Two of its drivers, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, share the record for most victories at Martinsville by active drivers.

They have eight apiece, twice as many as Denny Hamlin, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

Gordon has led the most laps at Martinsville with 3,593 over 33 races. That’s considerably more than second-place Johnson, who has led 2,450 laps – but in just 16 races.

The two Hendrick drivers have dominated Martinsville almost as completely as Richard Petty – the all-time Martinsville leader with 15 victories – and Darrell Waltrip, who won 11 times, mostly with team owner Junior Johnson.

Jeff Gordon, Johnson’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, also has eight wins at Martinsville.

Fact is, Gordon and Johnson are tied for third place behind the two Hall of Fame drivers.

Due credit must be given to the Hendrick organization, which has been able to provide all its drivers with top equipment and support.

But the driving skills of Gordon and Johnson certainly play a role in their success at Martinsville, a tight, demanding 0.056-mile track that came into existence at the birth of NASCAR 66 years ago.

Gordon, who has finished among the top 10 in four of five races this season, downplays his role.

“Great race cars, great race teams,” he said. “I think just the approach that we have had and that is built from having some success over the years.  “Hendrick has always given us great cars even from when I started coming here.  I found something that worked for me and I have been able to go back to when I come here and not a lot has changed.

“It’s nice to have something that you have learned that has worked and can be a constant that you can come back with and make it work over and over again.

“It’s probably similar for Jimmie since he has started having success here as well.”

Johnson admits that for him, to master Martinsville required some lessons. When he was a Hendrick newcomer he got many from Gordon during repeated test sessions.

But he learned much from an unexpected source.

“I think our second trip here, in the fall of my rookie year, I got lapped by Tony Stewart,” Johnson said. “It all came together when I followed Tony and could pick up the rhythm.

“This is a track where a half-tenth per each end of the race track is huge. And it’s so hard to even quantify that or see that.

“It took me following Tony and getting into that rhythm where I picked it up. I was fortunate enough to get my lap back and then I think we ran a top-15 or top-10, and from that point on I’m like ‘OK. I see it. I get it.’ I feel it and understand that rhythm.”

Johnson understood it so well that he, along with Gordon, has become a Martinsville master.

This is not the case for all of the Hendrick teams. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has yet to win at Martinsville after growing up in a house “full of grandfather clocks” won by his father. Instead of trophies Martinsville winners get handsome clocks.

“Yeah, this is a track I have been trying to get a win at for a long time,” said Earnhardt Jr., who has finished second twice at Martinsville. “We have had some good cars in the past here that I’ve felt like could have won races and we just weren’t able to get the job done for whatever reason, somebody was faster or whatever.

“I’m looking forward to having another opportunity. I love short-track racing. I love this track.  I love the history of this place, what it represents.”

Kasey Kahne, the fourth Hendrick driver, has also yet to win at Martinsville. But, like Earnhardt Jr., he has two runnerup finishes.

Many drivers recognize that if they want to win at Martinsville, they are going to have to beat at least two Hendrick drivers.

They admit they would like to know how to do that.

Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards, who won at Bristol this year and is the current points leader, admits he feels confident he can get his first Martinsville victory.

But he adds he’d feel more confident if he could race the track the way Gordon and Johnson do.

“I’ve talked to Jimmie a little bit about it and he just says, ‘You’ll figure it out.’  He’s really nice about it and then changes the subject,” Edwards said. “Those guys are very spectacular here.  They’ve very good.

“My first few years I would get out of the car and go down and stand and watch Jeff.  The way he drives around here is just so smooth and precise.

“They’re able to do things that I’m not able to do, so I’ve just got to keep working on it.”

Seems it’s the same for several other drivers.

Except, perhaps, Hamlin, who boldly said, “I am going to win this race. I promise you.”

OK, so place your bet.

 

 

 

 

 

Wiltrout A Two-Time Motordrome Champ

Wiltrout A Two-Time Motordrome Champ

62-Race Winner Wants To Increase Total In 2014

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Garry Wiltrout’s priority is winning races. He’d rather chase race wins than points.

Wiltrout won his second NASCAR Late Model track championship at Motordrome Speedway in 2013. With 62 career Motordrome feature wins, he’s ready to continue his quest to increase that total.

“I’m out to win every race we can,” Wiltrout said. “That’s hard to do if you’re point racing.”

Wiltrout, 49, of Somerset, Pa., is a mainstay at the half-mile paved oval in Smithton, Pa. He won his first title there in 2002.

“We’re always good enough to race for championships,” Wiltrout said. “We’ve been in the hunt for 10 years. Sometimes you just can’t catch a break. One bad night can take you out of it because it’s hard to make up those points.”

Since joining the R&R Motorsports team a dozen years ago, Wiltrout has always been a top-10 finisher in Motordrome’s late model points race. He placed third in the 2012 standings behind Neil Brown and Barry Awtey, and won the 2013 championship over Awtey.

Wiltrout won the late model championship at Jennerstown (Pa.) Speedway in 2004. The R&R team expanded to a two-car effort in 2005 and added veteran driver Bobby Henry to their roster. Henry won Motordrome’s 2007 late model championship over Wiltrout.

“Me and Bobby probably race each other harder than anyone else, but we’re still good friends,” Wiltrout said.

Wiltrout was attending races with friends years ago when he decided buy a street stock and give competition a try.

“It was a pretty rough learning experience,” Wiltrout said. “I raced street stocks for two years and improved. Then I bought a late model. That was another learning curve, but I started winning races.”

The R&R Motorsports team is owned by Rich and Joan Pologruto. Wiltrout also works for the Pologruto’s business, Speclin Emergency Vehicle Sales & Service, in Scottdale, Pa. Wiltrout’s car is a Ford Fusion based on a Port City Chassis. Rob VanFleet is his crew chief with Greg Rushenburg and Bob VanFleet also team members. Stone & Company is the primary sponsor along with support from Meegan Ford, P.A.I. and Scottdale Lumber.

Motordrome Speedway’s weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program operates on Friday nights and the 2014 schedule opens on May 2 with new ownership. Todd and Melissa Melfi now own, manage and promote the facility.

NASCAR Whelen Euro Series 101

NASCAR Whelen Euro Series 101

Understanding The 2014 Season

BLOIS, France – More than 80 drivers, two divisions, an exciting event format, close competition on track and in the standings, Championships and Trophies at stake, together with bigger and even more attractive prizes: the 2014 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season is about to begin and here’s how it works. 

2 divisions : ELITE 1 and ELITE 2 

The 80+ drivers enter 2 different championships according to their past achievements and experience. The main division, called ELITE 1, is leaded by top international drivers classified as Gold but also welcome Silver or Bronze drivers. The ELITE 2 division is restricted to drivers classified Silver or Bronze, making it the ideal place to start from for young talents mixing with experienced national drivers. 

A car races in both divisions, with an ELITE 1 and an ELITE 2 drivers sharing the seat ….and the costs, during the weekends, for a total track time exceeding the 4-hour mark. 

nwes-infoh-en.jpgEvents Format 

Each NASCAR Whelen Euro Series weekend features two nail-biting qualifying session on Saturday morning to set the grid for the two exciting Saturday Races, one counting for the ELITE 1 championship and the other for the ELITE 2 championship. NASCAR Whelen Euro Series puts on a great show again on Sunday, with grids set by Saturday Races’ fastest laps 

Points Scoring 

Each driver earns points in his/her division following the NASCAR points scorings system, according to which the race winner collects 43 points, the second place driver gets 42, the third 41 and so on, with a 1-point gap, down to 43rd place granting 1 point. Three kind of bonus points are awarded for each race: The winner gets 3 bonus points, every driver leading a lap gets 1 bonus point and one more bonus point goes to the competitor leading the most laps, making 48 points the highest possible score under the checkered flag. 

This system, the same used in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, makes it easy for fans to understand what’s happening on track because every car is racing for position in the race and in the Championship classification. It also produces hard battled races, thanks to the added value given to each win. 

The two NASCAR Whelen Euro Series playoff events, the Semi-Finals held in Italy at the Autodromo dell’Umbria, and the Finals held in France at the mythic Circuit of Le Mans, will award double points for each race, bringing even more excitement to the closing stages of the 2014 season. 

Teams Championship and Trophies 

The Teams Championship classification sums the results obtained by a car in both divisions to elect the best team and reward the joint efforts of the ELITE 1 and ELITE 2 drivers, but there are also 4 Trophies, highlighting remarkable achievements during the season: in the ELITE 1 division, the Jerome Sarran Trophy rewards the best driver aged 25 or less and the Challenger Trophy goes to the highest-placed Amateur driver, while in the ELITE 2 division, drivers aged 50 or more can compete for the Legend Trophy and the best gentleman driver brings home the Gentleman Trophy. 

Prizes 

Since its first race in Daytona Beach in 1949, NASCAR always distribute prizes to the drivers competing in what is now the most important form of motorsports in the US and the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series makes no exception, by awarding over 250.000€ in prize money to drivers and teams, after each race and at the end of the season. That’s not all, though, because thanks to the long-term partnership with title sponsor Whelen Engineering, 6 drivers – ELITE 1 and ELITE 2 champions, plus the 4 Trophy winners – are rewarded with a program or a race in NASCAR in the US. 

NASCAR Rules 

Representing the best bridge for European drivers towards NASCAR in the US, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series applies a great number of NASCAR features, such as a very strict technical inspection procedures or radio communications between Race Control – Spotters and drivers. Just like in the US, the safety-car will be deployed multiple times and double-file restarts will be very spectacular. 

The 2014 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season will begin on April 12-13 in Valencia, Spain, where the Circuit Ricardo Tormo will host the first edition of the Valencia NASCAR Fest. 

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Tenn. Gov. Haslam Congratulates Finchum

Tenn. Gov. Haslam Congratulates Finchum

Kingsport Champion Adds Lonesome Pine for 2014

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam congratulated Chad Finchum on his 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series state championship recently.

Finchum, 19, of Knoxville, won the NASCAR state championship and late model track title at Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway and visited the governor’s office on March 12.

“It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Finchum said. “Gov. Haslam was an extremely nice guy and it was an honor to meet him. We shook hands and he congratulated us on the state championship. We’d like to be able to do it again.”

Finchum is doubling his efforts to two states this year. He’ll continue to race fulltime at Kingsport each Friday and run the twice monthly Saturday schedule at Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Va. Lonesome Pine joined the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series this year and it’s about 40 miles from Kingsport.

“If we run both at tracks that’ll give us around 40 races,” Finchum said. “If we do well enough we think we can at least get a podium finish in national points.”

He knows he has a lot of work to do to quickly adapt to Lonesome Pine.

“A lot of Kingsport guys have raced at Lonesome Pine and already have their set-up notes. I’ve never been there in a Late Model. Kingsport was all new to me last year, so we’ll go to Lonesome Pine with the same approach. I raced a truck there once and finished second in a 50-lap feature in 2008,” Finchum said.

Kingsport opens with a special Saturday afternoon event on Mar. 29. Lonesome Pine opens Saturday Apr. 12.

Busch Overcame ‘Mediocrity,’ Avoided Tire Woes For Clutch Victory

Kyle Busch overcame handling problems and avoided tire woes to win at Fontana for his first victory of the year. He’s now virtually assured a place in the Chase.

It’s very likely Kyle Busch didn’t think he had a chance at victory in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. After all, he said that he had a “mediocre car all day.”

But sometime things can change for the better – and at the last moment.

Busch avoided the tire problems that plagued the field, overcame his handling problems and won the race on the last lap of a green-white-checkered restart.

Perhaps no one was more surprised than he was.

“I came off the fourth turn in disbelief that we won this thing, because we were mediocre all day,” said Busch, who has now won at Fontana for two years straight. “It was really weird, not a race we’re typically used to.”

That may be, but Busch will take the results any way he can get them. He is the fifth different winner in 2014 and his victory all but assures him a position in this year’s 16-man Chase for the Sprint Cup.

He’s got his shot at a championship. And despite his achievements – 29 career victories – he’s never won one.

“This was a ‘Days of Thunder’ thing,” Busch said. “Holy cow, what do you expect with a green-white-checkered finish where most everyone has to come down for four tires?

“But with this win, there’s a load off my shoulders and I can now go out the rest of the season and race the way I want to.”

Busch battled handling problems in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota throughout the race. The car was loose and had no grip on the rough Auto Club surface.

Rookie Kyle Larson finished second at Fontana on the heels of his Nationwide Series victory at the track a day earlier.

Crew chief Dave Rogers called for numerous track bar and air pressure changes to cure the problems.

During a 26-lap green flag run, Busch’s car was mired in eighth place and seemingly going nowhere. But he began to pick off rivals one by one and was in third place by lap 194 of 200 and second on lap 196.

On lap 197 a caution came out after Clint Bowyer’s Toyota spun. For Rogers, there was nothing else to do but give his driver four fresh tires.

Busch came out fifth in the running but more important, he was the first driver with fresh rubber all around.

On the restart, it was all Busch.

He split the cars of brother Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart, teammates at Stewart Haas Racing, and then effectively blocked rookie Kyle Larson to earn his third career win at the two-mile Auto Club track.“I knew four tires was going to win the race, so I’m glad Dave called that,” said Busch, who led only five laps in the race.

“There was some great racing up front between Tony and Kurt – it was really interesting to watch that. “I went into turn one thinking ‘I’m going to run the middle,’ and then Tony started sliding off the bottom and I’m like, ‘Nope, not having it.’

I had to get some brake and cut my car to the left and drove underneath him and got him cleared off turn two.“I was able to keep Kyle Larson behind me.

Man, what a shoe that boy is.”Indeed, Larson, who drives for Chip Ganassi Racing, had a very impressive weekend.

He won the Nationwide Series on the day prior to the Auto Club 400, giving him a one-two sweep in two events.“Yeah, it’s been a really good weekend,” said Larson.

“I guess you couldn’t ask for more, but I was surprised to get up there late in the race.  We were probably a 12thplace car for most of the day.

“We struggled with our Chevy being too loose on exit but still too tight in the center.  We tightened the exit up and got way too tight in the center.

“My guys worked really hard all day long to find that right balance, and right there on the last pit stop we were able to make good enough adjustments where we could go hard for a couple laps.”“Good adjustments” by other teams might have saved them from the tire problems that struck many.Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were among the drivers who had problems with their tires – specifically, left-side blowouts in most cases.

Some drivers suggested the cause was the Goodyear tire. Others maintained it was the abrasiveness of the track surface.Goodyear maintained it was aggressive setups and air pressure that cause the problems.

The Gen 6 car has more down force with a larger rear spoiler.Many teams ran as little as 11 psi in the tires. Goodyear recommended 22 psi.

Also, many teams utilized increased camber.Not surprisingly blown tires were anticipated and began as early as practice.

“Goodyear is doing a good job,” said Kurt Busch, who finished third.

“We have faster cars, more down force and NASCAR allows us to put in whatever camber we want.

“Therefore, it’s up to the team’s discretion if you are going to have a problem or not.

”Not so, said Keselowski.“If air pressure was the issue, then we would have blown as many tires last year, because it’s all the same air pressure settings as last season,” he said.

“You just can’t add 500-600 pounds of down force to a car along with a track that has bumps like you are on a Michigan freeway.

“The tires had no margin from last year and I expect similar issues throughout the season.”

While tire problems sent Edwards to 10th place and Earnhardt Jr. to 12th, they are now one-two in the point standings, with Edwards leading by a single point. Keselowski, who tumbled to 26th at Fontana, fell from first to fourth in the standings.

Only seven points separate No. 1 from No. 5.

Patience Pays Off For Staropoli

Patience Pays Off For Staropoli

Late Pass At Irwindale Produces First NASCAR Win

See video

IRWINDALE, Calif. — Patrick Staropoli played the patient game in his first visit to Irwindale Speedway. The result was the rookie’s first NASCAR victory.

The 24-year-old from Plantation, Fla., took the lead on a Lap 137 restart and drove to the win in the NAPA Auto Parts 150. It was just the sixth career start for the Harvard University graduate.

David Mayhew edged Greg Pursley for second, while Staropoli’s Bill McAnally Racing teammate Brandon McReynolds came home fourth. Earlier in the day, McReynolds won his first Coors Light Pole Award as the series made its first trip to Irwindale since 2011. Dylan Lupton rounded out the top five.

Giles Thornton was sixth, followed by Brett Thompson, rookie Ryan Partridge, Taylor Cuzick and Carlos Vieira.

Pursley moved six points ahead of McReynolds and Lupton, eight in front of Giles Thornton and nine over Thompson.

The NAPA Auto Parts 150 will air on FOX Sports 1 on Friday, April 4 at noon.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will race next at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway on Saturday, May 3.

RESULTS | RACE CENTRAL LIVE REPLAY | AUDIO: POST-RACE INTERVIEW WITH WINNER PATRICK STAROPOLI | AUDIO: POST-RACE INTERVIEW WITH RUNNER-UP DAVID MAYHEW AND THIRD-PLACE GREG PURSLEY

nknps-west_irwindale_race_patrick-staropoli_042214

Patrick Staropoli led the final 14 laps en route to his first NASCAR win Saturday night in the NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. Victor Decolongon/Getty Images for NASCAR

Rhodes Seals The Deal At Greenville

Rhodes Seals The Deal At Greenville

17-Year-Old Notches First Career Victory

See video

GREENVILLE, S.C. – From his perspective it was a week late, but Ben Rhodes got his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win.

After leading all but the final two laps in his last start on March 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, the 17-year-old Louisville, Ky., native took no chances on Saturday night by leading the final 26 laps en route to a victory in the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 on Saturday night at Greenville Pickens Speedway.

“We just had a great race car all day long,” said Rhodes. “The gang at Turner Scott Motorsports gives us great cars every week and every race. I can’t thank those guys enough.

“Winning at Greenville Pickens is really cool,” he continued. “It’s a place known for saving tires and our strategy worked out.”

It was just the 11th start for the NASCAR Next driver. His previous best finish at the track was sixth, earned in September of last year. Rhodes’ best series career finish coming into the night was a pair of third-place efforts including that previous Bristol start.

Ronnie Bassett Jr., an 18-year-old rookie from Winston-Salem, N.C., crossed the line just behind Rhodes for his first top-five-finish in six series outings. 

“We’ve struggled early this year. It was good to get to a track we’re a little more familiar with and get a good result,” said Bassett. “It’s too bad we came up one short, but we’ll learn and come back next time a little stronger.”

Cameron Hayley, who started from the outside pole position and led 29 laps, finished third in his first Greenville start in a K&N East car.

“It was difficult to gauge how hard to go before and after the break,” he said. “The pace was really fast, so you couldn’t give up too many positions. It was a good night overall and we’ll head to Richmond and try to get a win there.”

Jesse Little scored his best finish of the season with a fourth-place showing and Drive for Diversity driver Daniel Suárez, who got into the fray late after a start back in the 15th position, came home in fifth, his third top-five finish in four starts this season.

Ryan Gifford finished sixth, followed by rookies Kaz Grala and Brodie Kostecki while Sergio Peña and Eddie MacDonald rounded out the top 10. 

Gifford and Peña are Rev Racing teammates of Suárez and also are part of the Drive for Diversity initiative. 

With the victory, Rhodes took over the lead in the championship standings by seven points over Suárez and nine better than Gray Gaulding. Both Suárez and Gaulding join Rhodes as members of the NASCAR Next program.

NASCAR Next is an industry initiative that spotlights young, talented drivers, who could shape the future of the sport.

The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 will be telecast by FOX Sports 1 on Friday, March 28 at 11 a.m. ET.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East is back on the track on April 25 for Blue Ox 100 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

LAP-BY-LAP RECAP | RESULTS | AUDIO: SECOND-PLACE RONNIE BASSETT JR.AUDIO: THIRD-PLACE CAMERON HAYLEY

bern-rhodes_action_nknps-east_greenville_032214_680.jpgBen Rhodes earned his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win at Greenville Pickens Speedway on Saturday night, taking the checkered flag in the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150. Getty Images for NASCAR

QUALIFYING: McReynolds Rolls At Irwindale

QUALIFYING: McReynolds Rolls At Irwindale

Collects 1st Career Coors Light Pole Award

IRWINDALE, Calif. — Brandon McReynolds is running for the NASCCAR K&N Pro Series West championship this season, and he’s making an early season statement at Irwindale Speedway.

The 22-year-old from Mooresville, N.C., was fastest in practice and then went out and won his first career Coors Light Pole Award Saturday in qualifying for the NAPA Auto Parts 150. McReynolds had a lap of 18.150 seconds (99.174 mph) around the graduated-banking on the half-mile track.

David Mayhew qualified second at 18.152 (99.163), with Greg Pursley third at 18.247 (98.646).

McReynolds is making his fourth career K&N Pro Series West start. He finished eighth in the season opener. He also has 14 K&N Pro Series East starts, including a third earlier this season at Daytona.

Rookies James Bickford and Patrick Staropoli qualified fourth and fifth, respectively.

Anthony Giannone was sixth fastest, followed by Dylan Lupton, Andrew Lewis, Taylor Cuzick and Giles Thornton. Lewis qualified the car for Daryl Harr, who was running the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday afternoon at nearby Fontana. Harr will drop to the rear at the start of the K&N Pro Series West race.

The green flag for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. PT.

RESULTS

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