Wednesday, May 28, 2014

#kneast News & Notes: Bowman Gray

Winston-Salem, N.C., native Ronnie Bassett Jr. is looking forward to racing in front of
a hometown  crowd in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East's NASCAR Hall of Fame 150
on Saturday, May 31 at Bowman Gray Stadium.  (Getty Images for NASCAR)

For NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Ronnie Bassett Jr., the confidence level rises on a daily basis as he and his team learns more and more about the cars and tracks that make up the series.

“It’s been really different. Everything that I’ve ever learned in a late model, I can throw out the window,” said Bassett. “It’s like the other side of the coin and starting brand new.”

The learning curve, while steep, has been managed by the Bassett bunch. In six starts this season they have scored top-five finishes at Greenville and Richmond. Add in another two top 10s and that’s good enough for ninth in the championship standings. “I’ve learned a lot. The team has learned a lot,” he said. “I feel like it’s coming together and we’ll just keep digging.”

Coming into the season, the Winston-Salem, N.C., driver had just two series starts to his credit and making the adjustment from part-time to full-time competitor is rarely easy despite expectations to the contrary.

“It’s definitely been harder than I expected. The competition level is crazy in this series,” he said. “There’s a bunch of great drivers. Everybody brings their ‘A’ game.”

Next up for the K&N Pro Series East is the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 on Saturday, May 31 at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, one of the most historic tracks in all of racing. The younger generation’s perceived lack of appreciation for history doesn’t apply to Bassett as far as Bowman Gray is concerned.

“It’s a special place, for sure,” said the 18-year-old Bassett. “My father has raced and won there. It’s a unique place and one that should be appreciated.”

Bassett has raced at the nearly 70-year-old facility but in nothing with the size and power of a NASCAR K&N Pro Series car. His only experience on the quarter-mile track was a test session earlier in the month.

“I thought the test went really well,” he said. “We were good in the heat of the day and it got a little snug later in the day, but I think we’ll be in good shape.”

Even without a lot of experience on the track, Bowman Gray is Bassett’s home track by default which is sure to draw a slew of friends and relatives.

“Having this deal close to home is great. So many places of where we race are far away and this one is right in our back yard,” said Bassett. “The chance for friends and family to come out and see what we do is special. I’ve tried to explain it, but now they can experience it firsthand. It’s going to be a fun night.”

No comments: