By Shon Sbarra, NASCAR
PORTLAND, Ore. – NASCAR K&N Pro Series West points leader Greg Pursley was the class of the field in the NAPA Auto Parts Salute To The Troops 125 on Sunday at Portland International Raceway.
The driver of the No. 26 GPM/Star Nursery/Real Water Ford – hailing from Newhall, Calif. – started the day with his fourth Coors Light Pole Award and then led all 63 laps en route to his fourth win of the season and the 13th of his series career.
Even though it appeared Pursley was on cruise control at times; that was not the case from his point of view.
“After the pit stop, I really couldn’t save anything,” Pursley said. “Those guys were fighting hard for position. I had to run (hard) and hope there wasn’t going to be a green-white-checkered.”
The triumph – Pursley’s first in Portland – erased some bad memories. Last season with a very similar performance throughout the race, engine problems forced him to the garage and an early end to his day.
“We’re really happy to get out of here with a win,” Pursley stated. “We really love coming here to Portland and we’ve done well here, but never could get a win until today.”
The rapidly improving Michael Self battled a stomach ailment all weekend, but was able to persevere and claim second place. It was his fifth top-10 performance in his last six outings.
“When that first yellow came out I realized that my stomach was rolling over on itself, but once it went green the adrenaline kicked in and I was fine,” Self said. “Despite being sick, we’re really having a lot of fun right now and getting some good finishes.”
Three-time series champion Eric Holmes crossed the line in the third position, but hoped for a little more.
“That race was a lot of fun today,” Holmes stated. “I thought we had something for (Pursley). On the second-to-last restart I got a really good jump and almost beat him into (Turn) 1. I was hoping to do the same on the last (restart), but he jumped that start a little. He did what he had to do there.”
Kwasniewski worked his way up to a fourth-place finish after starting 11th on the grid while Derek Thorn started from the rear of the field due to an unapproved change to his car after qualifying and came home in fifth.
David Mayhew, Brian Wong, Dale Quarterley, Jim Inglebright and Austin Dyne rounded out the top-10 finishers. The race was slowed due to caution just four times for 15 laps.
It was the first wire-to-wire victory in the series since Dylan Kwasniewski accomplished the feat on May 5 at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway. Pursley last went the distance on June 11, 2011 at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Pursley extended his lead over teammate Kwasniewski to 15 points with three races remaining with Mayhew, Thorn and Holmes completing the top five.
The NAPA Auto Parts Salute to the Troops 125 will air on SPEED on Sept. 6 at 3 p.m. ET.
The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule is at NAPA Speedway in Sandia, N.M, on Sept. 29.
RESULTS | LAP-BY-LAP RECAP | GREG PURSLEY POST-RACE AUDIO | MICHAEL SELF POST-RACE AUDIO | ERIC HOLMES POST-RACE AUDIO
|Greg Pursley en route to his NAPA Auto Parts Salute To The Troops 125 victory.|
(Craig Michell Dyer/Getty Images for NASCAR)