Categories
Home Tracks

“They Said What?” NASCAR Home Tracks Edition

Sometimes when you stick a microphone in front of a driver’s face, you have no clue what they may say and a couple of times you’ll hear something that surprises you or gives you a bit of a perspective.

Throughout the 2019 season, I had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of different competitors. During those interviews, there were some quotes that stood out. So it seems only fitting we take a glance back through the year at what was said.

RUSTY JARRETT | NKP

I think the biggest thing is – I don’t want to sound negative, but just be prepared that it might not work out. I think it’s easy for all of us, whether you’re a dad, you’re a friend of a racer or a competitor of a racer and look at people and say, “Oh, they’ll make it. They have plenty of talent. They’ll be in Cup one day, or they remind me of Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon.”

But there’s no model there anymore. So I think young guys that growing up in racing, whether quarter midgets, bandalero, late model, or even the K&N division, is just take advantage of every single opportunity that you can. Don’t waste it, because it cost way too much money to be out there and there’s jobs on the line for a lot of crew guys that are working on those cars. But don’t waste your opportunity, and be prepared that you can go out there and do everything right – you can win races, and you can win championships, and there’s still a really big chance that due to the business, you’re not going to make it on Sundays and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I work with Noah Gragson and I tell him this all the time – just don’t waste your opportunity because if you go out there and win five races over the year and do everything you can, and you’re prepared, and you’re preparing your body to battle, and you’re communicating with your team – if you come up short and you can’t make it to the Cup Series, then you can still lay your head down at night and say you gave it your all. But don’t be the kid that wastes the opportunity and doesn’t take advantage of it, because then you’re going to be feeling a lot of regrets.

So I think it’s about being mentally prepared of the challenge to work your way up through the sport in today’s atmosphere to where it’s not just about talent, but the funding you have in place and what you do with that and whether you take advantage of it.

Brandon McReynolds

BILL MCANALLY RACING

It’s a really cool position I’m being putting in this year. I’ve raced for the past 15 years and I’ve always kind of been one of the very few girls in the midwest for the up-and-coming drivers to admire and to learn off of. Now that you’re getting into the higher NASCAR series, your platform gets bigger and bigger.

 

My role for that is to go out there and do what I love; go out there and win and show that it really doesn’t matter, boy or girl, you can go out there and do whatever sport you want. So if they’re looking for inspiration to gout there and race against all the guys, that’s great; but if they can use what I am doing on the race track to help them pursue their dreams, whether racing or another sport, that’s a really cool spot for me to be  in and I hope to do that for them.

Brittney Zamora

JAGGER JONES RACING

It definitely helps being involved and having a racing family. I mean, my dad is always there and my grandpa – I can always go to them and ask. But it’s also what they know, their experience, in putting me in the right position and just being involved with a lot of other people in the NASCAR world has really been a help for us. It’s good to know that I can go to my dad and ask for advice, really, for anything about the cars, or anything really around racing.

Jagger Jones

RUSTY JARRETT | NKP

The K&N and ARCA car are really similar, so going back and forth between those two isn’t too drastic; it’s really just horsepower. But when we go super late model racing and TransAm Racing, that’s completely different and that’s just more or less for experience. So I don’t really take those for competitive, but rather just for learning, like road courses and stuff like that in the bigger cars. The Super Late Model is more so for the competitiveness of the series.

Sam Mayer

JOHN HARRELSON | NKP

Really, just how to race these cars. These cars have 650 horsepower, but they’re so heavy and really tall; it’s kind of like racing a school bus with a jet engine. It’s just a really big bulky car so you have to learn how to drive it, especially on these short tracks. It’s all about who has the most speed through the center; it’s a big long drag race down the straightaway with whoever can get the power down.

We ran several short track races and we qualified third at Thompson, but we ended up having a really loose car. I think just from everything I learned from that will help for New Smyrna. For the big tracks, I’ve been to the big tracks now so I can be able to use that knowledge with how the air works, how not to use much brake, and that stuff, and going to these tracks for the second time is going to help a lot.

First time I went to New Hampshire, we qualified 13th or something like that. But the next time we went, I qualified sixth, a tenth off the pole. So it definitely helps going to these tracks for a second time.

Colin Garrett

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
News

Sam Mayer Dominates Dover To Close Championship Season

DOVER, Del. — Friday was his day, and 2019 was his season.

All Sam Mayer had to do to clinch the 2019 K&N Pro Series East championship was take the green flag. But after being quickest in practice and qualifying on the pole, he led all but two laps to close the season with a win and celebrate in style.

“I can’t thank everyone at GMS enough for all they do for me,” Mayer said. “I mean, they had a rocket ship for me, I can’t thank them enough for that. Drivers Edge Development, Chevrolet, Chevrolet Accessories for being on the car and bringing me out here in the first place, and giving me this opportunity to go win a K&N East championship.It means so much and I’m going to celebrate even more, for sure.”

Mayer is the youngest NASCAR champion at 16 years, 3 months and 8 days, eclipsing mark set in 2016 by current Todd Gilliland (16 years, 5 months). Mayer also bettered the East record that was set in 2017 Harrison Burton (16 years, 11 months, 20 days).

In total, Mayer won four races and finished outside the top 10 only once in 12 races (South Boston Twin No. 2, where he left early due to a prior commitment). His average finish for 2019 wound up being an impressive 3.2.

The championship is also GMS Racing’s first in the series, coming in their first full-time season of competition in the K&N Pro Series.

The DGR-Crosley trio of Tanner Gray, who led two laps, Todd Gilliland and Drew Dollar finished second, third and fourth, respectively, with Chase Cabre rounding out the top five.

Max McLaughlin, Spencer Davis, Ruben Garcia Jr., Brandon McReynolds and Justin S. Carroll completed the top 10.

Cabre finished a career-best second in the standings, 38 points behind Mayer. Davis (-42) finished third, with Tanner Gray (-48) and Max McLaughlin (-61) completing the top five.

The General Tire 125 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Friday, October 11 at 6 p.m.

Categories
Home Tracks

ASHLEY ASKS…… Sam Mayer

As one of the first members of the new Driver’s Edge Development program put together by JR Motorsports and GMS Racing, Sam Mayer‘s schedule is filled with diversity for the 2019 in an effort to get him experience.

After kicking off the year with a solid fourth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Smyrna Speedway, he will be running the ARCA Menards Racing Series event at 5 Flags Speedway this weekend.

As he prepared for the weekend ahead, Mayer shared his thoughts entering the ARCA Pennscola 200 and more.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts heading into this weekend’s ARCA race?

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

SAM MAYER: I’m really excited. I think the team has a really good car put together. We went out and tested last week, and I feel like we were really strong. I mean, we feel like we have a little bit to work on, like little stuff like the track bar, but overall I feel like we have a really good car and can contend for probably a good top-five finish.

PS: What’s the biggest challenge of 5 Flags Speedway compared to other short tracks?

SAM: Definitely the tire wear is a big thing. I mean, obviously the Snowball Derby is just one of those races that are really grueling and you have to be on your toes, and save your stuff. I think the ARCA race will be the same way. You have to just save your stuff until the break and you’re able to get new tires, because you only get six tires. So it’s going to be about saving your tires and your stuff, but having the track position to pounce when the race is over.

PS: You were able to run a pair of ARCA races last season. What’s the biggest thing you learned during those that you feel will benefit you heading into this weekend?

SAM: I think overall this season is more competitive than last season, not to say last year was competitive at all. It was a really intense season last year, but this year this is so many big names coming into the sport and I feel like last year being in the series having that experience will help a lot. But the competition is going to be really high here, so we just have to do everything we can to get a good finish.

PS: New Smyrna was a mix of ups and downs for you, with the K&N Pro Series and the late model. What are your thoughts as you look back on that?

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

SAM: The K&N Race was very good. I feel like we could’ve finished a little bit better if we would’ve made a bigger adjustment on the first break when we pitted, but honestly that’s my fault in just trying to learn and figuring out what happens to the car over a long run.

But the Super Late Model – I don’t really know what to say about that. It’s really unfortunate we didn’t get the finishes we wanted. We were going down there to win, just wasn’t able to make it happen. We were chasing the track all week. It’s just one of those deals where you just got to move on.

PS: Your schedule is pretty diverse this season. How much of a challenge is it going from one vehicle to the other?

SAM: The K&N and ARCA car are really similar, so going back and forth between those two isn’t too drastic; it’s really just horsepower. But when we go super late model racing and TransAm Racing, that’s completely different and that’s just more or less for experience. So I don’t really take those for competitive, but rather just for learning, like road courses and stuff like that in the bigger cars. The Super Late Model is more so for the competitiveness of the series.

PS: Looking at your schedule, what track and series are you most excited for?

SAM: I’m really excited for the K&N Series this year, just because the competition is really high and I feel like we have a shot to win a lot of races and the championship. The Truck race – I’m really excited for that with Bristol and Martinsville and those short tracks over in the south. I’m just really excited for the experience I am going to get this year.

PS: I was just going to ask actually, but what does it mean for you to get that chance to move up in your racing career to the Gander Outdoor Truck Series?

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

SAM: It’s just getting experience this year. We’re going for a K&N Championship, but everything else we’re doing this year is just for pure experience and I’m just really excited due to having a great GMS Racing team behind me with Marty Lindley as a crew chief. He’s a big name in racing and he just knows how to win, so we’re going out here and going for that.

PS: As a young driver, how beneficial is it to be surrounded by the veterans at both GMS and JRM for advice with the Drivers Edge Development program?

SAM: It’s huge just have to everyone else like that’s older and more knowledgeable than I am. Like I said, I am young and still learning, so it’s just a big thing to hear the little things that they’re saying, whether it’s sway-bar inside the car or on-track stuff.

It’s really great to have a lot of mentors in the sport as there’s so many people that are helping me that have been in the sport for a long time, like Lorin Ranier. He’s a huge mentor for me because he knows so much about the sport.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Home Tracks

ASHLEY ASKS…… Brandon McReynolds

With a focus on conserving his tires through the first half of the event, Brandon McReynolds was able to walk away from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season opener at New Smyrna Speedway with a third-place finish.

The 27-year-old recently talked about the race, as well as the upcoming season and his career to date with POPULAR SPEED.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts looking back on New Smyrna last week?

BRANDON MCREYNOLDS: New Smyrna went pretty well. We had a test day on Saturday down there, so I was pretty busy going back and forth with the ARCA race (at Daytona International Speedway), and obviously driving the K&N car for John Visconti at New Smyrna. So we had a really good test session and felt good about our car, and knew our The Reichert Group Chevrolet was pretty sporty for the race.

Really just going into the race on Monday, it was just going to be a matter of tire attrition and being there at the end. I felt like we did a really good job executing that with our team, and just came up a little bit short but definitely a step in the right direction for our team going into Bristol.

PS: With how things played out, what do you feel you could’ve done differently to end the race in victory lane?

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

BRANDON: It’s obviously easy to go back and pin point things we could’ve done differently. The biggest thing that stands out is probably not knowing how much the tire was going to wear out. I felt like maybe I was a little too conservative with conserving my tires. So I think that ultimately hurt us in the long run; I probably shouldn’t have rode as much as I did, or lost as much track position. If I had to change anything, I probably would’ve pushed a little harder or went a little sooner in our charge back to the front.

PS: So now with the first ARCA race of the year in the books, along with the K&N Pro Series opener, what are your plans looking like moving into the rest of this year?

BRANDON: There’s a lot going on. I’m very fortunate to drive for John Visconti and The Reichert Group. Our next race with that team will be at Bristol (Motor Speedway), so really excited to go up there and have a shot at trying to compete for a win in the K&N Pro Series East. I know last year we had a good run going there and it was our first top-five of the season. That’s my focus right now, and then I think I have three or four more scheduled in the K&N Pro Series with The Reichert Group and John Visconti, so really pumped about that.

Then on the ARCA side, we’ll just wait and see. Mike Bursley and the KBR Development guys have been working really hard trying to get me into more races, especially at the bigger tracks. So we’ll look towards Talladega (Superspeedway) and you may see me in that car down here in Alabama in a few months.

PS: Looking at both schedules, if there was one track that you could pick to run over the others, what would that be?

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

BRANDON: Well, I’ve always felt like I’ve exceeded and done a nice job on the bigger tracks. I don’t know if that’s a product of going to so many (Monster Energy NASCAR) Cup Series tracks a younger kid and just watching and paying attention to how these Cup guys gain momentum. I feel that’s been more of my strong suit as I’ve grown up. I’d really like to go back to places like Pocono (Raceway) and Michigan (International Speedway) and some of the bigger tracks that I’ve had experience on in the past and I’ve really enjoyed racing at. I just haven’t put the right program together to go back to those places.

I know I’m not answering your question clearly, but really excited to go back to some of the bigger race tracks. But first and foremost, I’m really pumped to go back to Bristol and have a shot to win up there with our K&N program.

PS: If you could get that win at Bristol in the next couple months, what would that mean to you personally?

BRANDON: That would be huge. I’ve always enjoyed succeeding at places where my dad (crew chief Larry McReynolds) has had a lot of success. I don’t know if he’s won there as a crew chief, but I know he’s always ran well there when he was crew chiefing for Mike Skinner, Dale Earnhardt, Davey Allison, and Ernie Irvan. Anytime I can go to those tracks where I have memories of watching my dad succeed in the Cup Series as a crew chief, if I can go in there as a driver and have success with my team, that means a lot to me.

First and foremost, I race because I enjoy it, but I really enjoy making my dad proud. There’s no better than feeling than winning the race and having your dad walk up to you and say that he’s proud of you. I’ve always had his and my family’s support, so any track is pretty cool to get a win at especially when he can be there. It’d be pretty cool to go win at the coliseum and have dad standing there with us in victory lane.

PS: I was just going to ask. As you try to make your way up the racing ladder, what does it mean to have someone like him in your corner for support and advice?

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

BRANDON: It’s good. The sport has changed a lot since my dad was working his way up through as a competitor – obviously not driving, but as a crew chief. So I think sometimes it’s hard for my dad to understand some of the business and politics that goes into our sport now, just because there’s been a major culture change since his days when he was trying to grind it out and work his way up through the ladder.

But ultimately, one thing I always pull away from my dad and he’s second to none at, is his work ethic. I know a lot of people say this about their parents, but I’ve never in my life met anybody that works harder than that man. I’d put him up against anyone – from our president to anyone that is working on a mill somewhere. It’s just unbelievable to see the work ethic and passion that he puts into everything he does, and I feel like that I don’t quite live up that amount that he works but I definitely try everyday to figure out how to make things better, how to make myself better, and keep improving communication with our team so we can make our program better. That way we’re prepared and ready for the race track.

So to answer your question, it’s unbelievable to lean on Larry McReynolds the crew chief for first and foremost as my dad, but at the same time, at a professional level. He brings a lot of intensity to the race track, whether he’s commentating or whether he’s crew chiefing, or whatever he’s doing. That’s something I admire about him.

PS: I know you’ve been working hard at trying to make your way up the racing ladder. If you could get to the top-three NASCAR divisions one day, what would that mean to you?

BRANDON: It’d be huge. I’ve had opportunities to where I could go those things, and I’ve gone and tested Cup cars. I’ve done a lot of cool things. Sure, I’ve never competed at those levels at a full-time basis, but I’ve ran a (NASCAR Gander Outdoor) truck (Series) race and tested a lot of trucks for Chevrolet and Turner Motorsports when I had those days going with Steve Turner. It’s just all about funding and you have to have the right funding in place to move on.

So yeah, it would mean a lot to me, but I’m enjoying what I am doing. I am enjoying helping John Visconti and The Reichert Group build up their program. I’m enjoying working with Mike Bursley and KBR Development and being a small part of building that program. For me, if I am going to race, I am going to have a good time because I’ve been doing it long enough to where I’m not going to do it to ride around in 40th spot just to say I’m a (NASCAR) Xfinity (Series) driver. I want to be the guy winning races at a K&N or ARCA level, and performing at a high level, and building a program, and taking care of these owners and trying to do a good job for them.

So to answer your question, it’d mean the world to me, but ultimately, if I am going to do it, I want to do it right, but first and foremost, it’s this K&N program and ARCA program and trying to build those up as much as I can behind the scenes just based on my experience level from working with other teams.

PS: To other young racers who are trying to get into NASCAR, what is one piece of advice that you’d offer them?

BRANDON: I think the biggest thing is – I don’t want to sound negative, but just be prepared that it might not work out. I think it’s easy for all of us, whether you’re a dad, you’re a friend of a racer or a competitor of a racer and look at people and say, “Oh, they’ll make it. They have plenty of talent. They’ll be in Cup one day, or they remind me of Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon.”

But there’s no model there anymore. So I think young guys that growing up in racing, whether quarter midgets, bandalero, late model, or even the K&N division, is just take advantage of every single opportunity that you can. Don’t waste it, because it cost way too much money to be out there and there’s jobs on the line for a lot of crew guys that are working on those cars. But don’t waste your opportunity, and be prepared that you can go out there and do everything right – you can win races, and you can win championships, and there’s still a really big chance that due to the business, you’re not going to make it on Sundays and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I work with Noah Gragson and I tell him this all the time – just don’t waste your opportunity because if you go out there and win five races over the year and do everything you can, and you’re prepared, and you’re preparing your body to battle, and you’re communicating with your team – if you come up short and you can’t make it to the Cup Series, then you can still lay your head down at night and say you gave it your all. But don’t be the kid that wastes the opportunity and doesn’t take advantage of it, because then you’re going to be feeling a lot of regrets.

So I think it’s about being mentally prepared of the challenge to work your way up through the sport in today’s atmosphere to where it’s not just about talent, but the funding you have in place and what you do with that and whether you take advantage of it.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Home Tracks

OBSERVATIONS: New Smyrna 175 (and World Series Night 4)

The cleanest race for NASCAR during Speedweeks is in the books, and it didn’t even happen on the biggest stage. While the restrictor plate events at Daytona International Speedway will be mired with crashes, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East took center stage at New Smyrna Speedway.

And frankly, they put on the better show with what they delivered.

Although it appeared as though Colin Garrett and Drew Dollar were going to battle it out for the win, neither of them accepted the accolades in victory lane as Derek Kraus took those honors instead.

The 27-years-old has raced in the K&N Pro Series ranks for the past two years with top-five points finishes, and the experience showed. Despite starting 16th on the grid, he conserved his tires while slowly making his way to the front, choosing to ride just inside the top-five. 

Then when the opportunity presented itself with the youthfulness of Garrett and Dollar getting together on a restart with 44 laps to go, Kraus did what he had to do, splitting the middle between the pair to drive by and cruise away en route to victory. Arguably, it was probably one of the best textbook restart passes that you will probably see all season. As he said post-race, “I might’ve gotten in the grass, but I got it done.”

While the pass highlighted the night, the field was arguably calm throughout without any serious wrecks, except for Brittney Zamora collecting Tanner Gray in her second spin on debut night. However, that doesn’t mean that the fans were not delivered a show. The drivers raced for positions door-to-door all night long within and outside of the top-five, sometimes making light contact along the way – but hey, rubbin’ is racing on the short tracks. 

There have been concerns about the state of NASCAR with some of the rule changes and an array of talented, experienced drivers stepping away over the past couple seasons. However, the next generation is there ready to take their place, and that was on display Monday night.

There are several drivers in the field that could easily make an impression in NASCAR’s top-three ranks down the road. Ty Gibbs proved himself with a runner-up in his K&N Pro Series debut, while Sam Meyer placed fourth in just his seventh start. 

– Although some of NASCAR’s rule changes recently haven’t gone over well, the decision to go to competition cautions with five minute breaks is very welcoming.

Essentially, when the caution comes out and if you choose to pit, you can take your time with your service, before returning on the track. If you chose to stay out, you get to start ahead of those who pitted; the cars that pitted then follow behind, in the order they were in entering pit road for service.

As a result, you keep the balance of strategy onto whether to pit or not, while not having to worry about possible consequences of a bad green flag pit stop. 

Kraus was one of the several drivers who elected to pit under the first caution, while four other drivers stayed out. Dollar and Garrett were among those who did not get service under either yellow flag, and it showed with the handling going away as laps were ran. Meanwhile, Kraus’ adjustments kept the No. 16 Toyota underneath him so he could make the move when it counted.

– Can we also applaud NASCAR for their cost-saving measure in only allowing one single set of General Tires for the event? On top of the money not being spent, it also teaches the drivers about conserving equipment – something we know can come in handy when they move up the ranks. 

Hailie Deegan has been regarded as one of the top up-and-coming female drivers, with plenty of media shined her way. She has also backed up the talk by winning a K&N Pro Series West event last year, too. Unfortunately after starting on pole, mechanical issues plagued her night all the way to a 16th-place finish.

Her evening continued to get worse, as she also wrecked out of the Pro Late Model event at New Smyrna following the K&N Pro Series race after getting loose off of the corner. Look for her to bounce back and prove herself in the upcoming races.

While the focus for many is the action at Daytona International Speedway, February in Florida is busy with racing events. Bubba Raceway Park and Volusia Speedway have something for dirt fans each night, while New Smyrna Speedway hosts their World Series.

If you want to get a glance at the next generation, checking out any of these events is a must as they always put on a good show. The best part? Fanschoice.tv is live streaming each night for free for your viewing pleasure. 

– Deegan wasn’t the only driver to find trouble during the Pro Late Model event. The Mike Skinner-owned team saw both of their drivers black-flagged for jumping the restart, with the second call being gut-wrenching as it saw Jamie Skinner go from victory lane to last car on the lead lap. 

The Pro Late Models have been putting impressive side-by-side racing together on-track, while stealing the headlines. The restart controversy follows up the first night where Colin Kravil and Derek Griffith wrecked racing for the lead, and Deegan called out Jeremy Miller for a motor advantage. For the record, while Deegan wrecked out, Miller drove from the back to third after blowing his engine in practice; for Kvapil and Griffith, neither was able to rebound as they would have hoped on Monday.

– The Florida based modifieds are causing fans to talk for all the wrong reasons. The racing was pretty much strung out single-file, with the race experiencing a lengthy delay at the end to clean up fluid. It would’ve been better to call a time limit on the end of the event, and move on. Thankfully Bob Dillner eased some of the pain with his interviews and commentary for those at home.

Doug Coby may say that he is just down there testing, but he’s doing a fine job in the process as he put together a dominating performance in pacing every single lap en route to victory. Despite the races getting longer in the coming days, he’ll be a threat to sweep them all – but don’t start engraving the trophy yet.

Patrick Emerling and Matt Hirschman put together an impressive battle for second through the final 10 laps, with Hirschman looking for every way possible around for second. While it seems worth nothing now after Emerling was disqualified for a left-side weight violation, they could easily give Coby a run for his money over the next couple nights.

Ryan Preece is another name that can’t be forgotten. He had the speed to race up through the pack and could’ve been right there with the top-five, but an unscheduled pit stop for the car being stuck in gear put him behind. 

– The Super Late Models didn’t have the smoothest night of competition, with a couple big accidents eliminating drivers from the event. The frustration was echoed by the drivers, with Ryan Moore saying, “They have enough trouble lining up. You can’t expect them to know how to race.” 

At the front of the field, talent was the name of the game with arguably the best Super Late Model driver across the country Bubba Pollard conserving his equipment through the first half, before scoring the victory. Despite having won practically every big event across the United States – well, except the Snowball Derby, this marks his first win down at the World Series. 

He isn’t driving his own car, though, as he was asked to drive Dave Rogers’ entry with Rogers having surgery. The first night it seemed that Pollard was out of place, scoring a fourth-place finish by mere luck after the leaders got together. Now that he has the No. 11 driving as he wants, this may be the start of a dominating run from here on out.

Dan Frederickson led the first half of the event, and appeared set for a strong podium performance. However, with Pollard closing in, he made a mistake and got up into the wall. Ultimately, that caused him to drop through the running order. Heartbreaking.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
News

Derek Kraus Uses Patience to Win at New Smyrna

NEW SMYRNA, Fla. — It was worth the wait for Derek Kraus in more ways than one.

After being postponed to Monday night due to rain, Kraus emerged victorious in the New Smyrna 175 at New Smyrna Speedway, using tire conservation en route to his second career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory.

The Stratford, Wisconsin, native made his move with about 40 laps to go as the leaders, Colin Garrett and Ty Gibbs, made contact while battling for the top spot.

“They were racing each other pretty hard,” Kraus said in Victory Lane following his season-opening win. “I had to stay on my toes for them to make contact and that’s exactly what they did. They drifted up in (Turns) 3 and 4 and I saw an opening so that’s when I took it. I might’ve gotten in the grass, but I got it done.”

He was able to hold off a hard-charging Ty Gibbs and Brandon McReynolds, who finished second and third respectively. Sam Mayer and Anthony Sergi rounded out the top five.

For most of the 175-lap event, Kraus’ No. 16 Bill McAnally Racing Toyota was mired in the middle of the field. But it was all part of the plan: They were playing the waiting game.

Tires were of the utmost importance, as teams only used the one set they qualified on for the entirety of the race. Kraus started 16th and slowly made his way inside the top 10. Then the top five, and when the opportunity presented itself, he pounced.

“What really helped me (save tires) was running with Todd (Gilliland) for three years,” he said. “He was really good at saving tires. I just tried to remember back then and that’s what I felt like I did. I probably didn’t save the right front as well as I needed to because I was driving it in pretty deep, but I felt like I saved as well as I could. Brandon (McReynolds) and Hailie (Deegan) I know dropped way back, I didn’t feel comfortable dropping that far back, because track position is huge here.”

Although Kraus was the one celebrating in Victory Lane, Gibbs, making his first career K&N Pro Series start, was satisfied with his runner-up result for DGR Crosley.

“That was just me getting all I could get,” Gibbs said of his contact while racing for the lead. “I’m sorry to the No. 18 (Garrett). I hit him down there one time. He was crowding me so that didn’t help much but it was a blast and a lot of fun. I gained a lot of experience and we’re going to come back and win the next one.”

Spencer Davis, Ruben Garcia Jr., Drew Dollar and Connor Hall completed the top 10. After starting from the pole, Hailie Deegan finished 16th and was forced to retire early due to electrical issues for the second year in a row at New Smyrna.

The next event for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will be the Zombie Auto 150 on Saturday, April 6 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Categories
Uncategorized

Rain Postpones New Smyrna 175 to Monday Night

NEW SMYRNA, Fla. — The 2019 K&N Pro Series season opener will have to wait.

Rain forced the postponement of Sunday night’s New Smyrna 175 at New Smyrna Speedway to Monday night. The race is scheduled to go green at 7 p.m., the first race of the night, to kick off another evening of the New Smyrna Speedway World Series.

After qualifying was canceled due to precipitation, track crews and Air Titans worked feverishly to dry the track. But showers persisted, and NASCAR was forced to move the 175-lap event to Monday.

Hailie Deegan will start first, followed by Drew Dollar, Brandon McReynolds, Sam Mayer and Colin Garrett.

Categories
Home Tracks

ASHLEY ASKS…… Colin Garrett

After scoring five top-10’s last year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Colin Garrett will return for a sophomore season partnered up with Sam Hunt Racing. The Virginia native recently took some time to share his thoughts on the upcoming campaign with POPULAR SPEED.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts entering the season?

COLIN GARRETT: It’s going to be my sophomore season in the K&N Series, and it’s my first time going to New Smyrna and Bristol – I missed those two races last year. I think we’re going to have a pretty good shot to be competitive this year and run up front. Last year, you know we didn’t have the best equipment but we were able to work with what we had and kept on chugging on through the year I guess is the right way to put it.

But this year, we had the winter reset and just get everything sorted out so we don’t have as many mechanical failures and stuff. We’re just trying to cross our Ts, dot our Is – all that kind of stuff.

PS: What are your goals and expectations?

Russell Labounty | NKP

COLIN: Well I’d like to definitely win a few races this year. Last year was a really long year between all of my cars. I ran late models, supers, K&N – and we only won one race last year. So it really sucked. Last year was a really long year, but overall, it was an overall good learning year.

So if we take everything that I learned from last year and put it into this year – and like I said, having the winter to reset, I think we can be a contender to win and hopefully go for the championship. We just need to get to that point throughout the season. It’s only 14 races, but it’s a long eight months.

PS: What’s the biggest thing you learned last year that you feel will benefit you this year?

COLIN: Really, just how to race these cars. These cars have 650 horsepower, but they’re so heavy and really tall; it’s kind of like racing a school bus with a jet engine. It’s just a really big bulky car so you have to learn how to drive it, especially on these short tracks. It’s all about who has the most speed through the center; it’s a big long drag race down the straightaway with whoever can get the power down.

We ran several short track races and we qualified third at Thompson, but we ended up having a really loose car. I think just from everything I learned from that will help for New Smyrna. For the big tracks, I’ve been to the big tracks now so I can be able to use that knowledge with how the air works, how not to use much brake, and that stuff, and going to these tracks for the second time is going to help a lot.

First time I went to New Hampshire, we qualified 13th or something like that. But the next time we went, I qualified sixth, a tenth off the pole. So it definitely helps going to these tracks for a second time.

PS: So having said that, what track are you most looking forward to?

COLIN: As much as I hate this track, probably New Hampshire. We ran really good there last year. So I really don’t like New Hampshire, but it’s probably my favorite track with the success there now. That’ll be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to getting back there. Thompson is going to be a really fun track – like I said, we qualified third there. Then of course my hometown track, South Boston.

PS: How did you get started in racing?

COLIN: We really don’t know. We’ve been trying to figure that out because none of my family races. It was all me that started it. We think maybe back to a family reunion 15 years ago or whatever it was, I was watching a race or something; we don’t know. Like, I’ve just always loved racing. Jeff Gordon was my favorite driver growing up. It’s just something that I’ve always loved since I was a kid – NASCAR, Formula 1, all that kind of stuff. Formula 1 is my more favorite, but we’re not really in a place where Formula 1 is so NASCAR is definitely the bigger way to go around here.

PS: What’s been the most memorable career moment to date for you?

John Harrelson | NKP

COLIN: Probably my championship from a couple years ago – the 2017 Limited Sportsman Championship at South Boston. That was really big for my team and for me. I just got into racing two years prior and to go out there and win five races or something like that, plus winning I think two late model races and two poles. I think that was the biggest – that whole year was pretty big. 

PS: What is your advice to others looking to get started in racing?

COLIN: Start your expectations low, especially if you haven’t been racing a lot. Just set goals for yourself every week. Maybe just like top-10 this week, top-eight the next week, top-six the next week and so on and so forth. That was my biggest thing. I came off the 2017 year having just won the championship at South Boston and that was pretty big, and it just kind of went down hill rapidly. We got one other win in 2018 at the beginning, but when it came down to it a couple races later, we were struggling really bad.

So that’s the biggest thing – just set each goals each week for yourself. I was entered the year expecting to win every week, and then when we weren’t able to do that, it really sucked.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
News

NASCAR K&N Pro Series East 2019 Schedule Announced

13-Race Championship Puts Short Track Stars On The Big Stage

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The green flag will wave just miles from the birthplace of NASCAR and will culminate at “The Monster Mile,” and in between, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will test drivers at historic venues, high-speed short tracks and a challenging road course.

The result is a 2019 calendar that will spotlight some of the sport’s rising young stars and series’ veterans in a mix of high-profile events.

The season will get underway Sunday, Feb. 10, at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway as headliner of the track’s 53rd running of its week-long World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, just south of Daytona. The high-banked half-mile has opened the K&N Pro Series East championship points season each of the past five years.

Featured on the 13-race slate will be six combination race weekends with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series or NASCAR Xfinity Series, including a pair of visits to the “World’s Fastest Half Mile,” Bristol Motor Speedway. In addition to its traditional early season trip to Bristol Motor Speedway, the series will return in August.

“The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule features an itinerary of race tracks that really serve the drivers well to progress to the next level as well as an opportunity to perform in front of national series teams,” said Brandon Thompson, NASCAR managing director for regional racing. “The Cup championship by Joey Logano this season was really a culmination of a wave of talent that started in the K&N Pro Series 10 years ago and has continued. We look forward to seeing the next crop of drivers prove themselves on the big stage clash with those who will become cornerstones in the series.”

The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion (Logano), NASCAR Xfinity Series champion (Tyler Reddick) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion (Brett Moffitt) all scored their first NASCAR wins at the K&N Pro Series level. Five of the last six NASCAR Xfinity Series champions trace their NASCAR roots to the K&N Pro Series.

A pair of historic short tracks are fixtures on the first half of the schedule.

South Boston Speedway will host two 100-lap twin features on Saturday, May 4, the third consecutive year the venerable Virginia .400-mile track is the site of the championship points doubleheader. Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, which was an integral part of the old NASCAR Busch North Series – the predecessor to the current series– will host the third annual NASCAR Throwback on Saturday, June 15.

Other schedule highlights include:

  • New Hampshire Motor Speedway, long a staple of the series’ calendar, will host a pair of races: Saturday, July 20, as part of the Cup weekend and Saturday, Sept. 21, in the Second Annual Full Throttle Fall Weekend.
  • Memphis International Raceway will welcome back the series on Saturday, June 1. Ruben Garcia Jr. scored his breakthrough win in 2018 there en route to a third-place finish in the championship standings in parallel to his second NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series title run.
  • Twice the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will go head-to-head with its West counterparts. The first is the annual stop at Iowa Speedway, on Friday, July 26, and the second as part of a doubleheader with the INDYCAR Series on Saturday, Aug. 24, at Gateway Motorsports Park, just outside of St. Louis.
  • The championship will conclude at Dover International Speedway on Friday, Oct. 4. It will be the 10th time in the last 13-years the concrete mile will serve as the coronation of the series’ champion.

2019 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Schedule

Date Track Location Laps
Sun., Feb. 10 New Smyrna Speedway New Smyrna, Fla. 175
Sat., April 6 Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol, Tenn. 150
Sat., May 4 South Boston Speedway * South Boston, Va. 100s*
Sat, June 1 Memphis International Raceway Millington, Tenn. 150
Sat, June 15 Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Thompson, Conn. 100
Sat, July 20 New Hampshire Motor Speedway Loudon, N.H. 70
Fri., July 26 Iowa Speedway Newton, Iowa 150
Fri., Aug. 2 Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen, N.Y. 41
Thur., Aug. 15 Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol, Tenn. 150
Sat., Aug. 24 Gateway Motorsports Park Madison, Ill. 120
Sat., Sept. 21 New Hampshire Motor Speedway Loudon, N.H. 125
Fri., Oct. 4 Dover International Speedway Dover, Del. 125

* Twin 100-lap championship points races
Schedule subject to change

Categories
Home Tracks

ASHLEY ASKS…… Tyler Ankrum

With just two races to go in the NASCAR K&N Pro East Series season, Tyler Ankrum holds a 51-point advantage over his teammate Tyler Dippel.

Recently, the DGR-Crosley driver dished on the next race of the year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, as well as more for POPULAR SPEED.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts going into the race at New Hampshire?

TYLER ANKRUM: We won there once already this year, and to get the sweep, that’d be fantastic to know that we were the first to get the sweep at New Hampshire. So to get a second win, fifth win of the year at the Magic Mile, would be huge. We’re leading the points so obviously we’re thinking about the championship. You can still lose the championship with two races to go, but I’m super confident going into Loudon.

PS: How would you rate your season so far?

ANKRUM: I don’t know. With 1 being the worse and 10 being the best, I’d have to say 10 because I never expected to get this amount of wins that we’ve gotten this year and performed the way we have. I don’t think anyone else has performed as we have. I would say 10/10. I haven’t won as much as I’ve won this year in a long time so I’m having a lot of fun with it right now.

PS: What’s been the secret to the success this year?

BARRY CANTRELL | NKP

ANKRUM: I just think the biggest secret of the team being so successful is everyone does their part, works really hard, and gives 100% percent. All the guys work tirelessly at the shop, and I do my thing with school, and the gym, and watching film and being IRacing before races. I think our main nitch is nobody works harder than us, and I think that’s been the whole secret to our success this year.

PS: How did you get your start in racing?

ANKRUM: I grew up in California and when I was nine years old, I go started off in quarter midgets and raced those for about three or four years. Then from midgets, I got into a late model.

PS: What’s been the most memorable moment of your career to date so far?

ANKRUM: I think the most memorable moment I’ve had would’ve been the win at Loudon – no, I take that back. The most memorable moment this year would be the win at Compton. We were so good that weekend. We got the pole, got disqualified after qualifying for being out of tolerances on the rear skew. So started at the back, drove my way to the front, made a mistake on a restart, fell back to fifth, and then drove my way back to the front again to win.

That win right there was one of most memorable because that night, no one was going to deny us. That night, we were destined to win, and it just got that ball rolling for those three wins in a row. Really, I think this year has been just special to me because in the past few years in super late models, we haven’t had dominant races like that. But that night, everyone knew because I was flying through the field.

PS: Now racing at the NASCAR Home Tracks level, what would mean to you to race in one of the premiere divisions?

ANKRUM: Oh man. To race in Truck, XFINITY or Cup, I’d give anything to be like those guys. It’s been my dream to become a Cup driver since I started racing so I’d give anything to be one of them.

PS: Who is your racing hero?

ANKRUM: I had a lot of heroes in general. One of my heroes is Dale Earnhardt Sr., Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Tony Stewart. Probably my biggest is Ayrton Senna, the Formula 1 driver for the 1970s and 1980s. Obviously, that’s a driver from the past but I love history and I’ve read a lot of books on him, watched a lot of TV documentaries. He just seems like the perfect driver, and always tries to be one of those guys whose perfect behind the wheel.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.