A trio of teenagers are set to make their debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 15, competing in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Pick-N-Pull.
Matt Scott, Dylan Hutchison and Andrew Murray are part of a growing trend of younger drivers looking to gain valuable racing experience in the series, with hopes of eventually moving to a national level in NASCAR. They join a group of more than two dozen drivers 21 years of age or younger who have competed in the series this season.
Scott recently wrapped up his second straight late model championship in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at All American Speedway. The 19-year-old from Pine Grove, Calif., has announced his intention to run the full K&N West schedule in 2012.
Hutchison also competed in the NASCAR late models at Roseville this year, finishing in the top five in points. He is a 16-year-old, third-generation racer from Sacramento, Calif. His grandfather, Rex, owns Rex Hutchison Racing Engines, and his father, Glenn, raced motorcycles, boats, sprint cars and dragsters.
Murray of Temecula, Calif., is attempting his first series start less than two weeks after celebrating his 15th birthday on Oct. 3. He has raced late models this year in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.).
Murray would become the youngest driver to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, eclipsing a record that has already been broken twice this season. Dylan Kwasniewski set the mark in April, becoming the first 15-year-old to compete in the series. Cameron Hayley broke that record in August, when he made his series debut 23 days past his 15th birthday.
Kwasniewski and Hayley have already experienced success. Kwasniewski has two wins and two poles, becoming the youngest driver to win a series race and the youngest driver to win a pole in the series. Hayley finished second in his first start at Montana. Kwasniewski and Hayley started side-by-side on the front row in the most recent series event - at Spokane (Wash.) County Raceway last month.
"We've seen some impressive young talent come into the series this year," said series director Joey Mancari. "Among them are Dylan Kwasniewski and Cameron Hayley, who quickly demonstrated their potential in running door-to-door with veterans of the series."
In February, NASCAR lowered the minimum age for drivers competing in its regional touring series to 15. The change applied 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.
In 2007, NASCAR had lowered the age minimum for the regional touring series from 18 to 16. Current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano, then 17, won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship that season.
Large turnout at Roseville: Thirty drivers are on the entry list for the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Pick-N-Pull. In addition to six states represented, three of the drivers hail from Canada.
From two wheels to four: Freestyle motocross rider and rally car driver "Cowboy" Kenny Bartram is one of four motorcycle riders scheduled to put on a special freestyle motocross show for the fans at Roseville. Bartram, a 10-time medalist in X Games and Gravity Games, is also planning to make his debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West on Saturday - driving for Bill McAnally Racing.
Inglebright back in action: Jim Inglebright, who is running a limited schedule in the series this season, will return to competition at Roseville - his home track. The Fairfield, Calif., driver won back-to-back track championships in the Pro Stock division at All American Speedway in 1991 and 1992.
Pursley Set To Clinch First Series Title
Greg Pursley is set to clinch his first championship in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. With the 294-point margin he holds in the standings, he could possibly wrap up the title by just taking the green flag at Roseville.
Pursley has led the series standings all season, opening up with a 15-point margin and stretching that to a 298-point gap in July.
Ray Elder's title win in 1975, one of his six series crowns, marked the last time a driver clinched a championship in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West prior to the final race.
This title would mark a second NASCAR championship for Pursley. He won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship in 2004 running a Super Late Model at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.).
Holmes Strong After Turning Season Around
After struggling early this year, with only one top-10 finish in the first five races - Eric Holmes turned his season around and returned to the championship form that led him to three titles in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
The 36-year-old driver from Escalon, Calif., has put together a string of seven straight top-five finishes; highlighted by a win at Spokane (Wash.) County Raceway on Sept. 3. He has moved to third in the championship standings, just 39 points behind his teammate at Bill McAnally Racing, Moses Smith.
Holmes has a good chance of continued success in his No. 20 NAPA Toyota, as the series heads to All American Speedway this week. The historic short-track at the fairgrounds in Roseville is where he scored three wins - more than any driver.
Holmes also enjoys competing at All American Speedway because it's his adopted home track. It is only about four miles from where his Bill McAnally Racing team is based in Antelope and only about 70 miles from his home. It makes for a big turnout of fans, including family and friends. It's only natural that Holmes has become a favorite among many in the capacity crowds that typically turn out for NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events at Roseville.
The series has visited All American Speedway twice each season since 2008. Holmes won that first event in the spring of 2008 and the spring event the following year. His third win there came last fall. In addition to the victories by Holmes, BMR had wins at Roseville in the fall of 2009 and spring of 2010 - with his former teammate Paulie Harraka.
Last Year's Event
Eric Holmes came out on top after a race-long duel with David Mayhew before a capacity crowd in the fall race at All American Speedway a year ago.
Holmes won the race from the pole position, his first Coors Light Pole Award of the season, while inching closer to his third series title.
Holmes pulled away from Mayhew, who finished second, for the final time on a Lap 144 restart to collect his fifth win of the season and the 14th of his series career. It also was his third win at the Roseville track. Holmes and Mayhew exchanged the lead multiple times and spent a good portion of the night side by side.
The race up front resulted in 10 lead changes among three drivers. But while Holmes and Mayhew fought back and forth for the lead, a war raged behind them that resulted in nine cautions for 61 laps and left crumpled race cars bearing the battle scars of tough short track.
Local driver Eric Schmidt, in his first series start in 2010, finished third. Paulie Harraka, who was looking for his third straight victory at All American finished fourth followed by Juan Pitta, who was making his series debut. Luis Martinez Jr., Jonathan Gomez, Moses Smith, Jason Bowles and Jacob Gomes rounded out the top 10. Gomes, who was making his series debut led early - but spun while trying to maneuver through traffic.
Final Notes From Spokane
Holmes notches 15th career series win: The victory by Eric Holmes in the Spokane 200 at Spokane (Wash.) County Raceway on Sept. 3 marked his first win of the season and the 15th of his career in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. On the list of all-time series victories, it puts him in a tie for ninth with Austin Cameron, Parnelli Jones and Roy Smith.
Second pole for Kwasniewski:
Dylan Kwasniewski set a track record at Spokane County Raceway in winning the pole during qualifying. It was the second pole for the 16-year-old series rookie.
Kwasniewski up to fifth in points: Dylan Kwasniewski moved to fifth in the championship standings for the series with two races left. Kwasniewski has finished first or second in four of the past five races.
Smith extends string of top 10 finishes:
Moses Smith's fifth-place finish at Spokane marked his fifth consecutive top 10 finish.
Solid series debut: Local driver, 18-year-old Braeden Havens, finished 11th in making his series debut at Spokane County Raceway.
Up Next: Season Finale At Phoenix
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will wrap up its 2011 season with the Casino Arizona 125 on Nov. 12 at Phoenix International Raceway, which has new pavement and a slightly different configuration.
Greg Pursley - who won last year's season finale at PIR, as well as this year's season opener there - will be trying to figure out the changes in hopes of clinching a third straight win in the Valley of the Sun.