The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will return to historic Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway for the second time in 2011 on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5.
The second event of the year for NASCAR’s top development series at one of its longest-standing sanctioned facilities was scheduled on Labor Day weekend to tie in with the popular South Carolina State Fair, and in the process the race will sit squarely in the middle of a late-season points battle.
Following a six-week break in the schedule following the last event at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway on July 23, Max Gresham will look to the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140 at Greenville Pickens as an opportunity to get one step closer to the championship.
Gresham has an 80-point lead on his nearest competitor with three events left on the schedule, but it isn’t necessarily a comfortable cushion. Gresham has finishes of 23rd and 21st in his starts at Greenville while Brett Moffitt – second in the standings – has a win and a fifth in three appearances at the historic half mile. Meanwhile, Darrell Wallace Jr. – 100 points out – also has a win and a fifth-place run to his credit at GPS.
Moffitt stamped out the competition in the season-opener at GPS on April 2 when he took the pole and led all 150 laps en route to the first of his two wins so far in 2011. While he has also competed well at the two venues in which the K&N Pro Series East will close its season – New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway – the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140 looms large if Moffitt wants to contend first his first championship.
Racing on a Monday: The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140 is believed to be the first race in the 25-year history of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East to be originally-scheduled to run on a Monday.
Second event at GPS: The K&N Pro Series East has gone to Greenville Pickens Speedway each year since 2006, but this will mark the first time that the half mile has played host to the series twice in the same season. This will also be the first of the seven all-time events scheduled for 140 laps.
Repeat performance for X Team?: In the season-opener at GPS upstart X Team Racing nabbed three of the top five finishing positions. While the lineup has shuffled a little, third-place finisher Alex Bowman and Matt DiBenedetto – fifth place that night – will be back to contend for the checkers this time around. New to the team mid-season, Dylan Presnell will be GPS first-timer.
A Johnson returns to GPS: Robert Johnson will make his first appearance at Greenville Pickens in a K&N Pro Series East car in the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140. His father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson, won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at GPS in 1959. The younger Johnson has starts this year at Bowman Gray Stadium and New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Shaw back in the No. 60: After six races competing in the No. 37 for Spraker Racing Enterprises, D.J. Shaw will return to the No. 60 in which he made his first 15 career starts. Shaw recorded his best career K&N Pro Series East finish at GPS in the No. 60 – fifth place – in the 2010 opener.
The Race: The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140 will be the ninth of 12 races for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2011 and the last of two at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway.
The Procedure: The starting field is 28 cars, including provisionals. The first 24 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 140 laps (70 miles).
The Track: Greenville Pickens is a half-mile asphalt oval with five degrees of banking in the turns. The facility opened in 1946 with a dirt racing surface and was paved in 1970. There were 29 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races held there from 1951-71.
Race Winners: In the six previous K&N Pro Series East races in Greenville there has yet to be a driver record more than one victory. Active drivers Darrell Wallace Jr. and Brett Moffitt have won the last two events.
Pole Winners: Brett Moffitt became the first driver to earn more than one pole in Greenville when he qualified up front in the 2011 season opener. Joey Logano has the qualifying record at 20.576 seconds (87.481 mph). Moffitt’s 2010 pole eclipsed Logano’s series record as the youngest pole winner at 16 years, eight months.
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.
Youngsters Make Their Mark At GPS: Greenville Pickens Speedway has seen many history makers roll across its asphalt through the years, and in recent seasons it’s been a place for a number of milestone performances by NASCAR K&N Pro Series East drivers.
Joey Logano became the first 16-year-old to earn pole and race victories in the 2007 opener at GPS. The 2009 edition saw Brett Moffitt lower Logano’s mark for the youngest pole winner in K&N Pro Series East history and the 2010 opener was won by Darrell Wallace Jr., who simultaneously became the series’ youngest and first African-American race winner.
With the minimum competition age lowered to 15 for 2011, the current season’s first event in Greenville saw Chase Elliott become the youngest driver to take a green flag in the K&N Pro Series East’s 25 years.
Home Tracks: Porter Leads At GPS
With the last weeks of competition for the 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series upon us, Randy Porter has the inside edge on the South Carolina state championship and track title at Greenville Pickens Speedway.
Porter led Anthony Anders by 32 points in the latest official national standings posted on Aug. 23 out of the Late Model Stock division at GPS, the track’s headliner.
The track’s other division leaders include: Chuckie Greer (Charger), Ryan Walker (Renegade), Freddy Hale Jr. (Street Stock) and Kenneth Headen (Truck).
Last Time Out: Columbus
In the inaugural event for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway, Darrell Wallace Jr. once again etched his name in the record books.
Wallace unseated pole winner Max Gresham at the front of the field on Lap 36 and led the balance of the 150-lap race for a dominant fourth career victory. It was his second win of the year. The first also came in the series’ inaugural event at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in April.
Alex Bowman crossed the line second for the best finish of his rookie season. Brett Moffitt, Matt DiBenedetto and Daniel Suarez brought home the top five at the racey .333-mile speedway.
Up Next: New Hampshire
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will return to the ‘Magic Mile’ for the second and final time in 2011 with the New Hampshire 125 on Friday, Sept. 23.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a 1.058-mile oval in Loudon, has played host to the K&N Pro Series East 55 times previously. In the first race there this year, Max Gresham was the class of the field as he earned the pole and led twice for a race-high 53 laps en route to his fourth career victory.
Eddie MacDonald is the series’ active wins leader at NHMS with three, and will look to end a three-race drought in Loudon. Two of his three wins there have come in the September event.