Monday, May 17, 2010

A Talented Field Of Stars

News & Notes: East-West ‘Challenge’ Brings A Talented Field Of Stars To The Heartland

East-West ‘Challenge’ Brings A Talented Field Of Stars To The Heartland
Some of the nation’s top young talent have emerged this season as rising stars this season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, which serves as NASCAR’s top developmental series. These newcomers, coupled with veterans of the series, will head to Newton, Iowa this week for the Goodyear Dealers of Iowa 200 on Sunday, May 23.

Goodyear 200The fourth annual NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race marks the only event in which competitors from the East and West go head-to-head with championship points on the line. This year’s race serves as the third race of the season for both the East and the West.

Beyond the $183,706 in prize money and posted awards at stake, competitors are out to gain bragging rights in coming away as the top overall driver in this event each year.

Although the season is young, some talented young drivers have already started to make a name for themselves in both the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.

There are 17 drivers registered for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year program in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. In the first two races this year, rookies earned 65% of the top-10 finishes, including both wins.

Ten drivers initially registered this season for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, meanwhile. Rookies garnered four of the top-10 finishing positions in the season opener, including the runner-up spot, and accounted for three in the top 10 in the second event.

While NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Kyle Busch will not be back to defend his East-West Challenge win at Iowa, Joe Gibbs Racing will return with 17-year-old Max Gresham behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota. Gresham drove the same car to a third-place finish in the K&N Pro Series West race at Iowa last September.

Fellow JGR driver Brett Moffitt will look for his first win at his home track, Iowa Speedway. The 17-year-old from Grimes finished sixth overall in the East-West race and was fourth in the West Series race at Iowa last fall.

Moffitt is not the only Iowa native slated to compete in the East-West Challenge this year. He will be joined by Cedar Rapids’ Joey Gase, who will make his K&N Pro Series East debut in the No. 08 of Spraker Racing Enterprises. Gase is a development driver for SS Green Light Racing.

While the more experienced series drivers generally filled the top finishing spots in the first three editions of the East-West combination race, a few veterans have encountered tough luck each year at Iowa.

A 27th-place finish in 2008 is the best outcome in this event for Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Toyota), a two-time champion in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. He also recorded a 38th-place finish in 2007 and a 36th-place finish last year.

Although Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Resort Casino Chevrolet) is the K&N Pro Series East active wins leader, and has won at 11 different tracks, he has an average finish of 20th overall in the first three East-West Challenges at Iowa, with a best effort of eighth in 2008.

Kobyluck is the only active NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver to compete in each of the first three East-West Challenges. Jeff Anton, John Salemi and Eddie MacDonald have competed in two apiece.

Among the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West entries this year at Iowa, four drivers have competed in all three of the previous combination races there. In addition to Holmes – Daryl Harr (No. 71 WestWorld Computers Chevrolet), David Mayhew (No. 17 MMI Services/Ron’s Rear Ends/KHI Chevrolet) and Brett Thompson (No. 61 Rich Thompson Trucking Chevrolet) will be making their fourth appearance in this event.

For some drivers focused on the season-long title, meanwhile, the Iowa event can serve as a turning point in their effort. Ryan Truex (No. 00 NAPA Toyota) crashed out and finished 33rd in last year’s race, then went on to reel off seven-straight top-three finishes to earn the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship.

Official Release
May 17, 2010 - 4:17pm

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