The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East is headed to Georgia for the second year in a row with the Slack Auto Parts 150 on Saturday, June 11 at Gresham Motorsports Park.
The recently-renovated facility in Jefferson, Ga., welcomed the K&N Pro Series East for the first time in August 2010. After a wild race that saw Ty Dillon escape with the victory, the track announced soon after that they would bring NASCAR’s top developmental series for a return engagement at the fast half mile.
Dillon, pole winner Kevin Swindell and late-race leader Ryan Truex will not be at Gresham this week, leaving the door open for a whole new group to contend for the checkered flag, and there will be plenty of candidates. The season’s first five events have produced four different race winners from three different teams.
Like when Brett Moffitt competed at Iowa Speedway in May, Max Gresham will have the pressure this week to capture the checkers at his home track. Gresham’s father, Tony, is a track administrator while his grandfather, Jim, owns the facility. And like Moffitt, he’ll look to celebrate in Victory Lane in front of the hometown crowd. Gresham finished 12th in last year’s event.
Gresham will have plenty of competition for the win as the 2011 season has proved to be very competitive with just 100 points separating the top six in the standings. Three of those positions belong to X Team Racing, which earned its first win last week at Bowman Gray Stadium with Matt DiBenedetto. Moffitt will also look to bounce back from an incident at Bowman Gray that dropped him from the championship lead to 34 points out.
Another Change at the Top … Following Moffitt’s win in the opener, each of the subsequent four races this year have featured a change in the points lead. After rallying from the rear of the field at the start of the Army Strong 150 at Bowman Gray to finish sixth, Darrell Wallace Jr. moved back to the top. Wallace has a 17-point edge on DiBenedetto, who jumped three spots with his win. Moffitt entered Bowman Gray one point ahead of Wallace, and dropped to fourth.
Fast Track … Gresham is the fastest short track on the K&N Pro Series East schedule. Swindell’s pole-winning lap last year was 104.944 mph. To put that in perspective, Moffitt’s pole at half-mile Greenville Pickens this year was 87.659 mph and it was 91.394 mph for Darrell Wallace Jr. at .4-mile South Boston Speedway.
Family Ties … In addition to Max Gresham’s family ties, Chase Elliott also has a connection to Gresham Motorsports Park. His uncle, Dan Elliott, is the track’s general manager. Dan’s wife and daughter are also involved with the track’s operation.
Friday at Funopolis … Fans are invited to come out to Funopolis Family Fun Center in Jefferson to meet and compete against K&N Pro Series East drivers and crew members in a night of activities that include go-kart racing, laser tag, video games and more. An autograph session is scheduled for 6 p.m. and activities will run from 6:30-9 p.m. Fans that bring three canned food items will receive a $5 play card. The event will benefit Jackson and Banks County Food Banks.
Tune-In Reminders … The Slack Auto Parts 150 will be broadcast live on NASCARHomeTracks.com via Speed 51 Radio from Gresham Motorsports Park ... Last week’s Army Strong 150 from Bowman Gray Stadium will air on SPEED on Thursday, June 9 at 6 p.m.
The Race … The Slack Auto Parts 150 at Gresham Motorsports Park will mark the midway point of the 2011 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule and will be the only visit to the state of Georgia.
The Procedure … The starting field is 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps (75 miles).
The Track … Gresham is a fast half-mile asphalt oval located in Jefferson, Ga. It was repaved in 2009 and features 12 degrees of banking in the turns and six degrees in the straights.
Race Winners … In the inaugural K&N Pro Series East appearance at Gresham in 2010, Ty Dillon found Victory Lane, his lone career series win.
Pole Winners … Kevin Swindell earned the first K&N Pro Series East pole at Gresham in 2010 with a fast lap of 17.152 seconds (104.944 mph).
25 For 25
The 2011 season is the 25th in series history. From its days as the Busch North Series, to the present-day NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, there are countless moments that have come to define the series. Each week we will take a look back at those moments and figures that have defined the series.
The First Champion … With the current season championship chase shaping up to be a tight battle to the end, its worth remembering that the inaugural title in 1987 was earned by a slim five points. Joey Kourafas won one of the 19 races he entered, and led just 114 total laps along the way, but he had a series-high 10 top-five finishes and an additional four top 10s. In the end he edged Chuck Bown 2,530 to 2,525 to etch his name in the record books. Kourafas competed in the series through the 1992 season, but the 1987 campaign remained his best.
Time will tell how the 2011 season turns out, but the 1987 points chase – which featured 15 stand-alone and eight combination races – saw the top four in the final standings separated my just more than 100 points.
Last Time Out: Army Strong 150
The inaugural appearance for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at historic Bowman Gray Stadium saw Matt DiBenedetto lead flag-to-flag for his third career victory.
DiBenedetto won a battle with teammate and polesitter Coleman Pressley on the first lap of the race and held on through 15 restarts – including a green-white-checker – and 156 total laps for the Army Strong 150 trophy.
Corey LaJoie challenged DiBenedetto late in the event, but settled for second with Ben Kennedy in third for his first career top-five finish.
Up Next: VisitHamptonVA 175
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will head to Langley Speedway for the first time in its 25 years of competition for the VisitHamptonVA 175 on Saturday, June 18.
The .396-mile oval in Hampton, Va., is one of nine facilities that has been a sanctioned member during each of the 30 years of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action. Langley played host to the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour for the first time in 2010, and the last NASCAR stock car touring series to visit the historic short track was the NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series in the 1999 season finale.
Raceday will feature two practice sessions starting at Noon with qualifying at 4:30 p.m. The VisitHamptonVA 175 is set to go green at 8 p.m.