NOTEBOOK: Career Day For Krzysik In Colorado
K&N Pro Series Rookie Finishes 2nd In Toyota/NAPA 150
DACONO, Colo. – The old racing adage, coupled with the Ricky Bobby character in “Talladega Nights” asserting that if you’re not first you’re last, is that second-place is the first loser.
Try telling that to Alberta native Jamie Krzysik after Krzysik finished second in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Colorado National Speedway Saturday night for the best NASCAR K&N Pro Series West finish of the 23-year-old driver’s young career. Krzysik started sixth in the field, rode there for most of the rain-delayed race, and then turned up the wick when it mattered the most.
Krzysik was closing quickly on race winner and series point leader Derek Thorn as the laps waned.
“We had a wicked, wicked Toyota tonight,” said Krzysik, who had no Top-5 finishes in five previous starts, matching his best finish with a sixth-place run at Iowa Speedway earlier this season. “We just made sure the car stayed together for the first 100 or so laps, kept it underneath us and the tires on it, and then the last 30 or 40 laps we started knocking them down. A couple more laps, I think we would have had something for (Thorn). It just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe next time.”
A restart with 12 laps to go helped pull Krzysik to within striking distance of the race leaders, Thorn and Cameron Hayley. He’d muscled his way past Michael Self in lapped traffic just before the final caution of the race came out, and from there he wasted no time in working past Hayley and setting his sights on Thorn.
The two long green-flag runs that covered the first 138 laps of the event played right into the rookie’s hands.
“It worked on the short run and it worked on the long run, so it was kind of a Catch-22,” Krzysik said of whether more cautions would have helped his cause. “It just kind of depended on what the other guys were doing, and how I could position the car and get going. Basically, it worked out good, so I’m happy with the way it went.
“With more cautions, you never know what’s going to happen – especially when we’re closing in on the end of the race and going for that checkered. You never know who’s going to try and go for it, right? So it worked out pretty well like this, so I’m pretty happy.”
The 2010 IMCA Modified Canadian national champion, Krzysik left feeling a bit conflicted about Colorado National Speedway – a track he’d never visited before Saturday. Naturally, he was thrilled to have his first podium finish in K&N Pro Series competition, but he also realized how close he was to making the left-hand turn into Victory Lane.
“I’m happy and pretty proud of where I finished, but at the same time you want more,” he said. “We want that checkered flag. We want that win.”
Still, Krzysik does’t share Ricky Bobby’s feelings that everything but a win is a last-place finish.
“This feels great, absolutely amazing,” the driver of the Bill McAnally Racing No. 20 NAPA Filters Toyota said. “I’ve had some struggles just learning all the different tracks, but we got a lot better as practice went on and it showed tonight.”
HAYLEY FRUSTRATED: Cameron Hayley knew his chance to win passed him by when he and Derek Thorn ran up on the lapped car of Dylan Hutchison on Lap 92.
Hayley had been battling Thorn for the lead in a side-by-side battle over several laps which ended when Hayley had to check up to avoid wrecking Hutchison’s machine.
“I believe it was (the race for the win),” said Hayley, who ended up finishing third. “When we were inside Thorn there, I think that was our time to win. If I could get ahead of him, I think I could have kept him behind me. Things happen for a reason I guess, and it just didn’t work out for us tonight.”
Hayley said lapped traffic provided an obstacle during many of the key points in the race. It wasn’t a product simply of racing on a short-track, either.
“The beating and banging here was a little bit out of control at some points,” Hayley said. “The lapped cars making it three-wide right in front of us didn’t help, either.
“We’re coming up two-wide racing with Thorn, and somebody pulls up to make it three-wide. Three lapped cars three-wide in front of us – I don’t know if their spotters weren’t telling them anything, but we’re racing for position and they’re racing for three laps down. That’s racing, but it’s just disappointing.”
RAIN DANCE: The start of the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 was delayed roughly two hours by rain showers passing through the area.
The cars hit the track as originally scheduled and tried in vain to dry it before being parked in the infield for the delay. When they did get back out, Thorn said it didn’t play much of a role in how things ultimately raced out.
“Not too bad. It was tough waiting around. You have anxiety you have to deal with waiting two or three hours to get back in the car, but other than that…,” Thorn said. “These fans for sticking it out – these are probably the best crowds we get. Thanks to them for coming out and checking out what we do.”
Krzysik said he though the delay may have actually improved the on-track product.
“It definitely washed the track. There was not much rubber laid down, and there were a lot of guys searching around when the race got started,” Krzysik said. “I think that brought the track in a lot faster, because everyone was searching. But by the end there, you could run the inside, you could run the outside.
“You could run all over this place, so it was good.”