Winner of 3 of last 4 K&N Pro Series West races
Greg Pursley is on a roll. He has won three of the past four races in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, dating back to last season.
He hopes to keep his momentum rolling when the series visits All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., for the Toyota/NAPA AutoCare 150 presented by A-All Mini Storage on Saturday, April 16.
Pursley knows scoring a win on the tight short .333-mile track will be a tough challenge. To do so, he will need to beat Eric Holmes and the Bill McAnally Racing teams on their home turf. BMR has won five of the six series events since Roseville returned to the series schedule in 2008, with Holmes taking three of those wins.
While Pursley has run with the race leaders in each of his four previous starts at Roseville, his best finish there was third in 2009.
“Nearly every time we’ve gone to Roseville – we’ve run okay, but not really good,” said the driver of the No. 26 Gene Price Motorsports Ford. “We’ve always been there near the finish, but have not finished well because of a crash or something. My goal this time is to come out of Roseville with a good top-five finish.”
To better their odds, his team has put extra focus on their short track effort this season, according to Pursley.
“We’re hoping our short track program will be better this year,” he said. “We have a new composite body car for the short tracks and we’re excited about that. I’m looking for a good finish at Roseville this time.”
Pursley is coming off a win in the season opener at Phoenix International Raceway in February. He had closed out the 2010 season with a victory at the one-mile track at Phoenix and two races before that had a win on the road course at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. Maintaining that momentum, however, will be a challenge, he said.
“It’s really going to be hard on the short tracks,” said the veteran driver who lives in Parker, Ariz., where the team is based. “Our team is on a roll right now and we’re optimistic about being able to do that at Roseville. It’s just that we’ve got so many good short track drivers in our series right now. But it would be great to keep it on a roll.”
Pursley credits champion crew chief Jerry Pitts, who joined the team at the beginning of last season, with helping to pull everything together and putting them in position to challenge for the title.
“We’ve been together a little over a year now and our team has really gelled together,” Pursley said. “I’m really excited about this year. I’m really looking forward to running for the championship this year.”
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Race Notes: Toyota/NAPA AutoCare 150
Smith wants to extend streaks: A top 10 finish at Roseville would allow Moses Smith to extend a couple of streaks. He has finished in the top 10 in all six series events he has competed in at All American Speedway and could make it seven-for-seven. The series veteran from Tempe, Ariz., is also looking to add to his string of four consecutive top 10 finishes, dating back to last year. After closing out his 2010 effort with finishes of fourth, eighth and 10th – Smith started this season with an eighth-place finish at Phoenix in the No. 16 HASA Pool Products/NAPA FIlters Toyota.
Holmes looks to rebound: Eric Holmes came away from the season opener 14th in the championship standings and will be looking to make up ground in the championship hunt at Roseville, where he has three wins. His season started off in similar fashion a year ago, when he was 20th in the standings after one race. Holmes rebounded to take the lead in points after the fifth race and go on to win his third series championship. He piloted the No. 20 NAPA Toyota to 10 straight top 10 finishes, including five wins, during the 2010 season.
Knorr named crew chief on No. 20: Duane Knorr has been named as the crew chief for the Bill McAnally Racing’s No. 20 NAPA Toyota driven by Eric Holmes. Knorr, a veteran crew chief at BMR who is in his 14th year with the organization, has called the shots the past two seasons as the crew chief of the No. 12 Toyota that was driven by Paulie Harraka. Knorr replaces Matt Goslant, who left the team following the season opener at Phoenix.
Kwasniewski To Be West’s First 15-Year-Old
Dylan Kwasniewski is slated to make his series debut at Roseville, becoming the first 15-year-old to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
Kwasniewski of Las Vegas will be competing as part of a two-car effort with Gene Price Motorsports, teaming with veteran driver Greg Pursley.
Kwasniewski’s racing resume includes competition in go-karts, Bandolero Bandits, Legend cars, a regional truck series, modifieds and late models. While The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is his home track, Kwasniewski has also raced at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.); Havasu 95 Speedway near Lake Havasu City, Ariz.; and Lucas Oil I-10 Speedway in Blythe, Calif.
NASCAR announced last month it had lowered the minimum age for drivers competing in its regional touring series to 15. The change applies to drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series.
Chase Elliott, 15-year-old son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott, finished fourth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season opener in Greenville, N.C., on April 2.
Busy Weekend On Tap At All American
The Toyota/NAPA AutoCare 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race is part of a big weekend at All American Speedway, with plenty of entertainment on and off the track.
As usual at Roseville, there will be a midway full of activities. It will include live music, vendors, exhibits and a custom car show by the Roamin’ Angels.
Racing will get underway on Friday, April 15, with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Models competing in the A-All Mini Storage Bonus Challenge 100 presented by Pick-n-Pull. In addition to the Toyota/NAPA AutoCare 150 on Saturday, April 16 – there will be a SRL Spears Southwest Tour Series event, World’s Champion Hand Cleaner Products 140 presented by AmeriPride Uniform Services.
Final Notes From Phoenix
Career mark for Gomez: Jonathon Gomez took second in the season opener at Phoenix International Raceway on Feb. 24 to match his career-best series finish.
First pole for Newberry: Brennan Newberry scored his first career series pole at Phoenix in only his fourth regular season series start.
Thorn debuts with third: Making his regular season series debut, Derek Thorn came away with a third-place finish at Phoenix.
Last Year’s Event
Paulie Harraka edged Jonathon Gomez in a two-lap dash to the finish to win last year’s spring race at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif.
The two young drivers went wheel-to-wheel on several occasions during the race, before Harraka eventually prevailed in the No. 12 NAPA Gold Filters Toyota.
Harraka started from the pole, while Gomez started on the outside of the front row. They swapped the lead of the race four times, with Harraka leading 125 of the 160 laps. He won by a margin of .569 seconds. Gomez crossed the finish line in second, but was later penalized to last place. Josh Combs was credited with second in his first start championship series race Grape King/Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil Ford. Gary Lewis also had great results in his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race – coming away with a third-place finish in the SEFNCO Communications/Montana Raceway Park Chevrolet. David Mayhew recovered from two incidents to finish fourth in the MMI Services/Ron’s Rear Ends/KHI Chevrolet. Luis Martinez Jr took fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Greg Pursley, Travis Milburn, Moses Smith, Blake Koch and Todd Souza.
Eric Holmes, who was shooting for a third straight win in the Roseville event, suffered a broken axle and finished 17 laps off the pace in 21st position.
Up Next: Miller Motorsports Park
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West heads to Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah for an event on April 30.
It will mark the fifth annual visit by the series to the massive road course. Unlike previous years when the series competed on the 3.048-mile outer course, however, this season drivers will tackle the 2.2-mile layout at MMP.
The four series visits to Tooele have produced four different winners. Patrick Long, meanwhile, is the only driver with multiple poles in series action at MMP. He won the pole there the past two years.
ADD: Take all of the above talent … make sure that they’re in the middle of another hot points chase, put them on the fastest, most-competitive half-mile oval in the West and then throw in one of Southern California’s favorite 4th of July fireworks shows … And you have the K&N Pro Series Series at Toyota Speedway and Event Center on Saturday, July 2nd.
And, bets of all … Tickets are available right now at: www.irwindalespeedwayatirwindale.com