DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Nearly one-third of the way through the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season, rookie William Byron is a surprise leader in as the championship race heads to famed Bowman Gray Stadium this Saturday for the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150.
Byron, 17, is sitting at the top of the standings with 176 points after earning two wins, three top fives and four top 10s. The Charlotte product got a late start racing, purchasing his first Legends car in the fall of 2012, and began competing in the U.S. Legend Young Lions Division in 2013. In just his first year competing in Legends, Byron won the 2013 U.S. Legend Young Lions National Championship and has been on the fast track to success ever since.
He’s trailed by a pair of drivers who have also visited Victory Lane this season. Series veteran Austin Hill, 21, is 15 points back. The Winston, Georgia, native started off the season strong by winning the season opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway to extend his victory streak to three and has four top 10 finishes this season. Rookie Kyle Benjamin is in third place, five behind Hill, and the Easley, South Carolina, earned his first Victory Lane visit at Bristol Motor Speedway in April.
After that, Byron’s already put 37 points — nearly a full race — on the rest of the field. By contrast, just 30 points separate fourth-place Gray Gaulding and fifth-place Scott Heckert, who both have 139 points, from 14th.
Race: NASCAR Hall of Fame 150
Date: Saturday, May 30
Time: 9 p.m. EST
TV Schedule: Thursday, June 4 at 6 p.m. on NBCSN
Track Layout: .25-mile paved flat oval
2014 Winner: Ben Rhodes
2014 Pole Sitter: Ben Rhodes
Event Schedule: Garage Opens & Inspection begins: 11 a.m.; Practice: 1:45-2:30 p.m.; Rookie Practice: 2:35-2:50 p.m.; Final Practice: 3-3:30 p.m.; Qualifying: 6 p.m.; Drive Autograph Session: 6:45 p.m.; NASCAR Hall of Fame 150: 9 p.m.
Track Contact: Loren Phinilis, Public Relations Director, (336) 793-6444, [email protected]
Track Twitter: @BGSRacing
Event Hashtag: #NASCARHOF150
The Race: The NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 will be the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East’s fifth event at the historic Bowman Gray Stadium. It’s the fifth of 12 oval track events on the 14-race 2015 schedule.
The Procedure: The starting field is 24 cars, including provisionals. The first 20 starting positions will be determined from two-lap qualifying and the final four will be determined through provisionals. The race is scheduled for 150 laps (37.5 miles).
The Track: Nicknamed “The Stadium” and “The Madhouse,” Bowman Gray is a flat quarter-mile asphalt oval. The track opened in 1946 and held 29 races from 1958-71 for what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The first NASCAR-sanctioned event took place on May 18, 1949 and was won by Fonty Flock. The first Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) race took place in 1958 and it was won by Bob Welborn. It is one of stock car racing’s most legendary venues, and it NASCAR’s longest-running weekly race track. Bowman Gray Stadium is part of the Winston-Salem Sports and Entertainment Complex and is home of the Winston-Salem State University Rams football team. It was also the home of the Wake Forest University football team until Groves Stadium (late BB&T Field) opened in 1968.
The Records: The one-lap series qualifying record at Bowman Gray was established by Ben Rhodes on May 31, 2014 at 62.578 mph (14.382 seconds). The 150-lap race record was set by Corey LaJoie on June 2, 2012 at 38.346 mph (59 minutes 51 seconds).
Bowman Gray Race Notes:
New Faces: The NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 at Bowman Gray Stadium will feature three new faces: Justin Laduke, Steve Berrier and Mason Mitchell. Laduke, 19, from Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, competed in the Allison Legacy Racing Series last season and recorded one win at Hickory Motor Speedway on October 18. Berrier is no stranger to Bowman Gray, he races in the track’s Street Stock division and is ranked seventh in the standings after finishing first on May 16. Mitchell, 20, from Des Moines, Iowa, will be making his K&N Pro Series East debut. He was the 2014 ARCA Racing Series champion and has registered one top-10 in ARCA this season.
Is Qualifying The Key To Success?: Since the K&N Pro Series East’s inaugural race at Bowman Gray in 2011, three of the four winners have started in the front row, with the exception of Ben Kennedy who started 10th in 2013. Last year’s winner Ben Rhodes, earned the 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Light and went to Victory Lane. Matt DiBenedetto (2011) and Corey LaJoie (2012) both started in second place prior to their wins.
Ruston Hopes To Continue Bowman Gray Success: Kenzie Ruston hopes to pick up where she’s left off at Bowman Gray and grab her first top five of the 2015 season. She has finished in the top 10 in both of her previous appearances at the track, finishing fourth in 2013 and eighth last season.
Bassett Ready For First Win: Ronnie Bassett, Jr. picked up his second career runner-up finish at Iowa Speedway on May 16 and looks to ride the wave of success this weekend at his hometown track. Bassett’s impressive showing at Iowa was his first top five finish of the season and tied his career best finish at Greenville from March 22, 2014. At last year’s Hall of Fame 150, Bassett finished fifth after starting fourth.
Ben Kennedy Racing Looks To Succeed With New Driver: Ben Kennedy’s team has had quite the success at the Winston-Salem track over the last two years. Kennedy won the race on June 1, 2013 after starting in 10th and last year Kenzie Ruston finished eighth while racing for the team. This year, Kaz Grala will take the wheel for BKR and hopes to carry on the team’s success. Grala finished 11th at Bowman Gray last year in the No. 31 car.
Rev Racing And Drive 4 Diversity: Rev Racing is another team that has found success at the North Carolina track. Last season, three Rev Racing drivers finished in the top 10. Daniel Suarez, now racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, finished runner-up to Ben Rhodes while Ryan Gifford and Jay Beasley finished eighth and ninth, respectively. Kenzie Ruston and Jay Beasley will be the veteran drivers for the team this year, with Devon Amos and Collin Cabre set to make their first series starts at Bowman Gray.
Home Tracks: Brown On Verge Of History
Tim Brown will get two shots at history this weekend. The North Carolina driver won his 73rd feature in Bowman Gray’s Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series this past Saturday, moving him into a tie with Junior Miller for first all-time in the track’s top division. Burt Myers leads the division points by 10 over Dean Ward, who won the other 25-lap feature this past Saturday. The Modifieds will headline Friday night’s Midway Mobile Storage 100 presented by The Triad’s 105.7 Man Up, and will run another 100-lap race Saturday along with the K&N Pro East. Friday night will also include the track’s other Whelen All-American divisions: Sportsman and Street Stock.
-NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com