DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Up next for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East is the Blue Ox 100 at famed Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on Thursday, April 28.
"First Stand-Alone Race In Series History At RIR"
The first two races of the 2011 season have produced two different winners, and there will be plenty of candidates to make it three-for-three when the series heads to ‘America’s Premier Short Track’ this week.
Following strong performances in each of the first two outings this year, the three-car contingent of X Team Racing looks primed to break through sooner rather than later. Coleman Pressley may have a leg up on the field with three previous starts in NASCAR Nationwide Series action at Richmond, highlighted by a best finish of 18th in the April event last year. In his first two starts in the K&N Pro Series East with X Team, the son of longtime NASCAR driver Robert Pressley has finishes of second and fourth.
Pressley’s teammates Matt DiBenedetto and Alex Bowman have been impressive in the season’s first two outings as well. DiBenedetto was fifth in the opener at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway and was the runner-up last time out at South Boston (Va.) Speedway while the rookie of the group, Bowman, finished third and eighth, respectively.
The X Team contingent will undoubtedly have competition from fellow Toyotas driven by Brett Moffitt and Max Gresham. Moffitt, with the two-time defending champion No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing team, has been dominant so far this year as he led flag-to-flag at Greenville Pickens and was cruising toward a second-straight win at South Boston, but was wrecked by a spun lap-down car. Gresham, meanwhile, recovered from a late-race spin in the opener to finish a split-second behind DiBenedetto last week at South Boston. Gresham piloted his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Camry to a win in last year’s race at Iowa Speedway, a track that was built in Richmond’s likeness.
While he has yet to record a podium finish in 2011, Darrell Wallace Jr. also figures to be a threat to take the checkered flag at Richmond. Wallace has recorded sixth-place finishes in each of the season’s first two races for Revolution Racing, and he’ll have an advantage on many of his fellow competitors as he’s participating in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown and is allowed to test and practice in advance on the .75-mile circuit.
With a high level of interest in the event, the Blue Ox 100 could very well attract the largest entry list of the 2011 season. There is also a historical angle to it, as this will be the first stand-alone race at Richmond in the series’ 25 seasons of competition. The K&N Pro Series East participated in five races in combination with the Nationwide Series at Richmond from 1988-92.
Peña a Surprise Points Leader … After finishing 12th in the final 2010 standings, Sergio Peña may not have entered the current campaign with the expectation of contending for a title, but he’s in just that position, albeit after only two races. Peña, from Winchester, Va., crossed the line seventh in the season-opener at Greenville Pickens on April 2, then registered his first career win last time out at South Boston on April 17. He heads to Richmond with a one-tally advantage on Pressley.
Pastrana, Blaney to Attempt Debuts … A pair of notable up-and-coming stock car drivers hope to make their K&N Pro Series East debut in the Blue Ox 100. Action sports star Travis Pastrana is entered in the No. 99 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing while Ryan Blaney, son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dave Blaney, also hopes to make his first start in the family-owned No. 10. Pastrana finished sixth in January’s NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown and was involved in an accident three laps shy of the finish in the K&N Pro Series West opener at Phoenix International Raceway.
Showdown Winner Headed to RIR … The reigning champion of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, Jason Bowles will attempt to make his first K&N Pro Series East start of 2011 at Richmond. The 2009 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion, Bowles has made spot starts across five different NASCAR national and regional touring series the past two seasons. His only previous K&N Pro Series East start was the 2010 opener at Greenville Pickens.
Busy Weekend for Pursley, Ranger … A pair of K&N Pro Series drivers will attempt to compete in both the East and West events this week. Current K&N Pro Series West points leader Greg Pursley will attempt to make his K&N Pro Series East debut at Richmond while two-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Champion Andrew Ranger hopes to make his East season debut after he started eight races in the series a year ago. They’ll both then fly to Utah to compete in the K&N Pro Series West race at Miller Motorsports Park on Saturday. Pursley is also slated to compete in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown in Richmond before departing Friday morning.
Sellers’ Return … Former K&N Pro Series East competitor Peyton Sellers will attempt to make his first start in the series since he won the 2008 season finale at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. Sellers, from Danville, Va., registered 16 top 10s in 29 East starts from 2006-08.
Practice 12-1 p.m., Final Practice 1:30-2:30 p.m., Driver Autograph Session 3-3:30 p.m., Qualifying 4:30 p.m. Race at 7p.m.