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News

Spencer Davis Earns First Win In Over Three Years With Late Gateway Restart

MADISON, Ill. — For the first time in 1,181 days, Spencer Davis can call himself a winner in the K&N Pro Series again.

One week removed from leading a career-high 137 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Dawsonville, Georgia native took the lead from Sam Mayer on the final green/white/checkered restart into Turn 1 and never looked back in the Monaco Cocktails 125, claiming his first victory since May 30, 2016 at Dominion Raceway.

The ultimate winning move was set up by a caution for Josh Fanopoulos blowing an engine off Turn 4. When Davis realized he’d get another shot at the win, he thanked his lucky stars.

“I saw that car blowing up and I’m like ‘someone’s shining down on us trying to get us that win.’,” Davis said following his Worldwide Technology Raceway win. “And when we lined up, I just zoned out, didn’t listen to the spotter or nothing. Like I said in Victory Lane, tried to channel my inner Dale (Earnhardt).”

And that’s exactly what he did.

“Tried to intimidate (Mayer) a little bit coming to the line,” he said. “The only way you can beat him–the only way I think you can beat this car this year is to make the kid make a mistake. Being a veteran of this series, I feel like I’m exceptional at restarts […] you couldn’t have asked for a better performance right there.”

“I hit my gears better than him and got into (Turn) 1 better,” Davis said. “I know he didn’t give it to me, but it felt like it because I drove that thing in there until I saw Jesus, man. It stuck, and I came out the other end leading.”

Derek Kraus earned his second consecutive runner-up finish, with David Gilliland, Mayer and Parker Retzlaff, making his second career series start, rounding out the top five.

Ruben Garcia Jr., Jagger Jones, Colin Garrett, Hailie Deegan and Todd Souza completed the top 10.

Deegan ran inside the top five for most of the night before spinning after contact with Kraus, which subsequently cut her tire and forced her to spin out.

After leading the first 60+ lap from the pole, Chase Cabre was relegated to a 13th-place finish, seven laps down, after he encountered electrical issues during the halfway break.

On Lap 1, Max McLaughlin, Garcia Jr. and Tanner Gray were involved in an accident in Turn 3. The crash ended McLaughlin’s day and gave the other two drivers damage. Gray wound up slamming the wall with a flat tire and finished the race 52 laps down.

Trevor Huddleston and Brittney Zamora both lost engines during the first half of the race and finished 18th and 19th, respectively.

With his fourth-place result and Cabre’s misfortune, Mayer extends his K&N East championship lead over the Rev Racing driver to 30 points with two races remaining.

With his second-place result, Kraus extends his K&N West championship lead over his teammate, Deegan, to 29 points with four races remaining.

K&N East Standings | K&N West Standings

The Monaco Cocktails 125 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Thursday, August 29 at 6 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series East event will take place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 21. The next K&N Pro Series West event will take place at Meridian Speedway on Saturday, September 28.

Categories
Trucks

Kyle Busch Motorsports Expands Youthful Line-Up

In continuing with the trend of driver announcements over the past couple of weeks, Kyle Busch Motorsports announced the addition of three young drivers to their NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver line-up in 2018.

Spencer Davis and Brandon Jones will each run five events for the organization, while Riley Herbst with compete in a pair of races.

Davis will make his truck series debut this year, following four top-10’s in seven ARCA Racing Series starts last year. He also recorded one top-five and two top-10’s in three NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts in 2017. 

“We saw Spencer have success last year at Talladega and the mile-and-a-half tracks that were a part of his part-time ARCA Series schedule and we feel that he’ll be able to continue that success running a similar schedule for us at KBM in the Truck Series this year,” Kyle Busch said. “He’s one of those kids that just loves to race and has gained experience racing several different types of vehicles in a variety of series. It’s hard to believe that he’s only 19 because he’s been competing in some of the same bigger Super Late Model races where I raced since 2012.”

Davis’ first race with KBM will come at Daytona International Speedway in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra on February 16. He will then also run the second event of the year at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24, before competing next at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8, and Michigan International Speedway on August 11. He will also drive the No. 4 Toyota Tundra at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 2.

“KBM is an established organization that has a history of producing winners and hopefully I can add my name to the list,” Davis said. “When you get behind the wheel of one of their Tundras it puts a lot of weight on your shoulders because you know the equipment is capable of winning and it’s up to the driver to get the job done. I’ve got five shots to get to victory lane this year and I feel like that’s enough to make it happen.”

Jones has been impressive to date, scoring 15 top-10 finishes in 35 career series starts, with a career-best second on three different occasions, most recently at Kentucky Speedway. He will be competing full-time for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2018.

“Brandon has come so close to picking up his first Truck Series win the last few seasons and we know that his day is coming,” Busch said. “With running a limited schedule at KBM this year, it’ll be a big help that he’s already worked with Mike Hillman Jr., (crew chief). They know what to expect from each other and we are confident that they’ll be competing for wins in the four races they have together this year.”

Jones’ first race with KBM will come at Kansas Speedway on May 11 behind the wheel of the No. 51 Tundra. He will then drive the No. 51 at Chicagoland Speedway on June 29, Kentucky Speedway on July 12, Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 14. He will also compete in the No. 46 Toyota Tundra at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 18.  

“I have always wanted to be a part of Kyle Busch Motorsports, ever since they started the team and began racing at the late model level,” Jones said. “It’s amazing what they have done with Toyota over the years and how they’ve turned the organization into a championship-caliber team. I hope that I’m able to add some Camping World Truck Series wins to their legacy and to my list of accomplishments while racing with KBM this year.”

Herbst will be making his truck series debut after winning the ARCA Racing Rookie of the Year in 2017 after posting one win, one pole, 203 laps led, six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes for Joe Gibbs Racing; he placed fifth in the year-end rankings despite missing an event. 

“I’m really excited for the opportunity to advance to the next level and run a few races in the Camping World Truck Series in a Kyle Busch Motorsports Tundra this season,” Herbst said. “It’s pretty cool to join my fellow Las Vegas natives Noah Gragson, and of course Kyle at KBM, and I can’t wait to race in front of my hometown crowd at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September. I’m going to do everything I can to make the most of the opportunity and hopefully be able to get to victory lane.”

Herbst’s first event will come at Gateway Motorsports Park in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra on June 23, before driving the No. 46 Tundra at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 14.

“Riley did a nice job as a rookie in the ARCA Series picking up a win, running up front, and consistently finishing inside the top 10,” Busch said. “I’m excited to be giving another Las Vegas kid the opportunity to race in the Truck Series at KBM — especially knowing how special it’s going to be for him to race in front of all his friends and family at Las Vegas Motor Speedway later this year.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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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

Worth the Wait For Davis at Dominion

By Brooke Franceschini (THORNBURG, Va.) — Spencer Davis sat in his car on the front stretch, nose facing the car of Justin Haley, as the drivers waited for NASCAR officials to review the finish.

It was only a minute or so, but it seemed like eternity for Davis.

And then he got the word. By .005 seconds, the 17-year-old from Dawsonville, Georgia, had his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory. Davis edged Haley in a photo finish to claim the checkered flag in the ComServe Wireless 150 Monday at Dominion Raceway.

“Just the amount of emotion right there going on between the whole team,” said Davis of sitting in his No. 41 Davis Poultry/Ruud.com Chevrolet. “That long dramatic pause was about to push me over the edge. When I heard my name over the intercom, everyone started screaming over the radio. And it was the best burnout I’ve ever done.”

Behind Davis and Haley, Noah Gragson, Kaz Grala and Austin Theriault rounded out the top five. It was the series’ first race at the .400-mile oval in northern Virginia, which opened earlier this year.

Davis has seen his career accelerate in the last 12 months. While winning the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Sunoco Rookie of the Year last year, Davis recorded four top-six finishes in four K&N Pro East starts. Davis finished runner-up in the first two races of 2016, and was recently selected to the NASCAR Next program — an industry initiative that spotlights the sport’s rising young stars.

Monday’s victory came in his 10th career K&N Pro start.

It was a bittersweet win for Ranier Racing with MDM as Davis’ teammate Kyle Benjamin was fastest in practice, won the 21 Means 21 Pole Award and led the first 137 laps before an incident on a late-race restart ended his day in last place.

Haley and Benjamin entered the race tied in points. Haley qualified 11th and worked his way up to the runner-up spot. A restart on Lap 145, following the wreck that collected Benjamin and third-place Ronnie Bassett, gave Haley one last shot at Davis. Davis and Haley made contact off Turn 4 coming to the checkered, and went across the finish line side-by-side.

“He shoved me off into the corner, just like I would do it I were in that position,” Davis said. “Everyone is going for the win. That was old style short track racing right there, beating and banging coming to the checkered. I don’t think you could have scripted something better.”

Rev Racing and NASCAR Drive for Diversity driver Ruben Garcia Jr. finished sixth, followed by Christian Eckes, Hunter Baize, John Holleman IV.

Benjamin’s 23rd-place finish knocked him 19 points behind Haley, while Davis moved to within four of his teammate.

The ComServe Wireless 150 will air on NBCSN on Thursday, June 2 at 6 p.m. ET. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will return to action on Friday, June 17, at historic Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut.

NASCAR K&N PRO SERIES EAST-ComServe Wireless 150 Results

1. (3) Spencer Davis, Dawsonville, Ga., Chevrolet, 150 laps, 54.000 mph.

2. (11) Justin Haley, Winamac, IN, Chevrolet, 150.

3. (19) Noah Gragson, Las Vegas, N.V., Ford, 150.

4. (15) Kaz Grala, Westborough, Mass., Toyota, 150.

5. (17) Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, ME, Toyota, 150.

6. (7) Ruben Garcia Jr., Mexico City, Mexico, Toyota, 150.

7. (2) Christian Eckes, Greenville, N.Y., Ford, 150.

8. (8) Hunter Baize, Bremen, Ky., Chevrolet, 150.

9. (12) John Holleman IV, Winston-Salem, N.C., Ford, 150.

10. (14) Reid Wilson, Huntersville, N.C., Chevrolet, 150.

11. (13) Tyler Dippel, Wallkill, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150.

12. (6) J.A. Junior Avila, Alhambra, Calif., Toyota, 150.

13. (18) Justin Fontaine, Fletcher, N.C., Toyota, 150.

14. (20) Brian Henderson, Falmouth. Va., Chevrolet, 150.

15. (22) Ali Kern, Fremont, Ohio, Toyota, 150.

16. (23) Christian Celaya, Caborca, Mexico, Ford, 150.

17. (10) Tyler Hughes, Cordova, MD, Ford, 150.

18. (9) Collin Cabre, Tampa, FL, Toyota, 150.

19. (5) Ronnie Bassett Jr., Winston-Salem, NC, Ford, 149.

20. (24) Clair Zimmerman, Denver, Penn., Ford, 147.

21. (16) Harrison Burton, Huntersville, N.C., Toyota, 146.

22. (21) Dillon Bassett, Winston-Salem, N.C., Toyota, 140, parked.

23. (1) Kyle Benjamin, Easley, S.C., Chevrolet, 140, parked.

24. (4) Dominique Van Wieringen, Amherstburg, Ont., Ford, 132, oil leak.

Categories
Home Tracks

NASCAR Next: Spencer Davis Was ‘Built for Speed’

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – As far back as kindergarten, Spencer Davis was making it known he was going to be a racecar driver.

Now 17, Davis is well on his way by competing in the K&N Pro Series East. While enjoying a luncheon as one of the newest members of the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class in downtown Charlotte, Davis smiled and said if he went through the files Mom’s kept, his pledge would probably be there in black and white.

“Walked in and they asked what you wanted to be, and mine was a NASCAR driver,” Davis said. “Someone asks me ten years from now what I want to be I still want to be a NASCAR driver. I eat, sleep, think, breathe racing.”

His introduction to racing was almost too good to be true, or as Davis says, perhaps perfectly planned out. With his father being a racer himself, the two were traveling to what was once Gresham Motorsports Park when Dad happened to bypass the go-kart track.

Davis didn’t realize kids his age was allowed to compete, but the seed had been planted. He turned to his Dad and said he ‘needed’ a go-kart and he ‘wanted’ to start racing immediately. The following week, Davis was.

“I remember we had a little smaller trailer; it was him and me. I believe I qualified third, and I was leading the race and coming to the checkered flag I got spun out and finished second backward,” Davis recalled. “From that point on, something went inside me that I wanted to win, no matter what. Second wasn’t good enough.

“I got out and was a little bit mad. Even for a five-year-old you have very hard feelings if you lose something that you know you could have won. That fire has been in me ever since; it’s never slowed down, only gotten brighter.”

A native of Dawsonville, Ga., Davis went from go-karts to running local short tracks in both Late Models and Late Model Trucks. His first win in a Late Model (2012) came at the facility where he caught the racing bug, Gresham. Davis went on to win the track championship later that year.

The 2014 season saw him run a full NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified schedule, earning seven top-10 finishes in 14 starts. At season’s end, he was ninth in points. The steady and successful climb into the spotlight has made Davis one of motorsports top prospects, as shown by his inclusion into the NASCAR Next program.

12 April, 2016 - NEXT Generation Photo shoot, Studio 43 in Charlotte NC.

With a combined 10 K&N starts between the East and West Series, Davis landed with Lorin Rainer, a long-time spotter in the Sprint Cup Series. Well aware of Rainer’s connections, Davis keeps in the back of his mind how impressing his boss can lead to doors being opened.

“Any time you have someone talking good about you, it’s definitely a help. Especially in this industry because you’re not going to get noticed if no one is talking about you. (Team owners) want someone who is getting talked about, who’s running up front; who’s getting the job done; who’s the whole package, and word of mouth is one of the best things for an up-and-coming driver,” Davis said. “For instance, if you raced against Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car and Josh Berry tells him, hey this kid is good, we raced hard for the win, this or that, stuff like that helps and definitely being one of Lorin’s drivers helps because he talks to a ton of people. He’s a well-recognized name in the sport.

“Until I actually met Lorin I never knew who he was because he’s not a name you hear in the media a lot but once you get to know him he’s an awesome guy. Then you start to realize how much he’s involved in this sport and knowing that his involvement is so major if you can run good for him and show your raw talent and what you can do, any type of word passing along is going to help.”

Davis has not discussed with Rainer what his next step could be, but in addition to owning two K&N cars Rainer also has an ARCA and Camping World Truck team. Looking ahead, Davis would love to move up and next try his hand at trucks before eying a full-time XFINITY ride in about five years.

But even for a teenager, Davis already understands the importance of patience.

“I don’t think there’s a single kid in here that wouldn’t hop in a Cup car tomorrow if they could, but obviously, you have to think realistic goals. First off is to get through this year and compete for the championship, which we’ve done so far until we had a bad string of luck these last two races,” he said. “But I would love to go into next year signed up for a truck deal with a good, solid team I know I could build with and go win races with.

“At the end of the day, you don’t want to move too quick because you don’t want to create a big flame because it’ll burn out quick. You want to take it one step at a time and build a solid foundation.”

And fight for some wins along the way, which Davis has been doing ever since he got that go-kart.

“All I want to do is win. Unless something very bad happened and we come out with a good finish, I’m not going to be 100 percent satisfied with second,” he said. “Yeah, it’s nice to finish second, and you still have to think about points, but at the end of the day, I want that trophy. I go into every race every weekend with the mindset that I’m going to go out there, and I’m going to win. That’s all I think.

“Now, my mindset is going to have to be a little bit different points racing because I’m not going to move someone for the win when it could be a better points day finishing second. But, I feel like I’m built for speed and the happiest I am is when I’m in Victory Lane sitting with that trophy.”

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KellyCrandall

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

Categories
Home Tracks

Spencer Davis Building Confidence After First K&N Podium at Iowa

Two races into his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East career, 16-year-old Spencer Davis is turning heads and leaving a lasting impression.

The Super Late Model turned NASCAR Modified pilot from Georgia placed sixth two weeks ago in his tour debut and followed it up on Friday night with a third-place finish in the #ThanksKenny150 at Iowa Speedway. Davis qualified fourth, remained inside the top-five for the duration of the event and ended up with his first career podium.

Even more impressive is the fact that it came during a companion race with both the East and West divisions participating at the venue.

READ MORE: Brandon McReynolds Wins, Sweeps Iowa

“Doug (Howe, crew chief) and everyone at NTS Motorsports gave me a really good car for the second half,” Davis said after the race. “We got to third and just rode for a little bit, and then at the end he told me, ‘Show us what you got.'”

There were several cautions near the end of the race, including one that fell with 10 laps to go. Running third when most of the cautions fell, he was forced to restart on the bottom and dropped fourth at the time of the final caution.

The fortune of restarting fourth behind eventual winner Brandon McReynolds on the outside lane was actually a godsend that allowed David to retake third during the final seven-lap stretch.

“We kept getting stuck on the bottom,” Davis said. “We were lucky enough to get on the outside for the final restart and just followed McReynolds through and brought it home third.”

Davis started racing at an early age and was in full-bodied stock cars by 13-years-old. The sheer amount of experience is finally starting to pay dividends as he taking the appearance of a top prospect waiting to break out on the big stage.

Davis has struggled in Modifieds over the past two seasons but said these cars simply suit is driving style more than the open-wheeled cars popular in the Northeast.

“These things are more about rolling the center and driving the center off,” Davis said. “In Modifieds, you charge the center and whoa her up a bit. You basically drag race from corner to corner.

“With these cars, the difference is in the movement. You have a high center of gravity in these K&N cars so you have to back it up in the corners and make up the speed on the center off. In my mind, that’s how racing should be. It suits my driving style and might explain why I haven’t been as good in the Modified.”

Davis has two more starts lined up in the K&N Pro Series East this season in the NTS Motorsports No. 20 Chevrolet — on September 10 at Richmond and October 2 at Dover.

“I just feel really confident right now,” Davis said. “This team has such amazing people behind and it’s just awesome. You know it’s good equipment and that just gives you a lot of momentum on race day. I’m looking forward to the next one.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

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