DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR K&N Pro Series East point leader Justin Haley leads the series back to Greenville Pickens Speedway for the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140 on Monday, the track where he collected his first career win back in March.
Since that first win, it’s been a career year for the driver from Winamac, Indiana. Haley has two wins and 10 top fives in 11 races thus far this season. He’s the only series driver to finish in the top 10 in every event this season. With three races remaining, Haley enjoys a comfortable 36-point lead over Kyle Benjamin, while Austin Theriault is 74 points back in third.
Haley has made two career starts at Greenville, starting from inside the top three in both of them. That’s significant at Greenville, a flat half-mile oval where tire management is key late in races. In March, Benjamin led a race-high 122 laps in a dominant effort, but Haley had enough tire left at the end to make a pass seven laps from the finish for the win.
This race is 10 laps shorter than the one in March. Should Benjamin bring the same car and setup back to the track this time around, he could hit it just right and see himself in Victory Lane and close the gap on Haley at the top of the standings.
RACE: Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140
PLACE: Greenville Pickens Speedway, Greenville, South Carolina
DATE: Monday, September 5
TIME: 5 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .500-mile paved oval
2015 WINNER: Race not held
2015 POLE WINNER: Race not held
EVENT SCHEDULE: Monday, September 5 – Garage opens: 9 a.m.; Practice: 12:15-1 p.m., 1:15-2 p.m.; Group qualifying: 2:30 p.m.; Driver autograph session: 4 p.m.; Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140: 5 p.m.
EVENT HASHTAG: #WhitakerChevy140
The Race: The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140 will be the 12th of 14 races on the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule and will be the second race of the season at Greenville Pickens Speedway. It is the 16th race in series history at Greenville.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 cars will qualify through group qualifying process, while the remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 140 laps, spanning 70 miles, and will be run in two segments with a five minute break at or near the conclusion of Lap 70.
The Track: Greenville is a half-mile asphalt oval with five degrees banking in the turns. It opened in 1946 with a dirt racing surface and was paved in 1970. It hosted 29 Sprint Cup Series races from 1951-71. It also hosted two NASCAR XFINITY Series, four NASCAR Convertible Series and two NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour events in its history.
Race Winners: There have been 14 different winners in the 15previous K&N Pro Series East races at Greenville Pickens Speedway, with only current NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr. recording multiple wins with two. Current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Joey Logano and Austin Dillon have each won K&N Pro Series East events at Greenville, as have other NASCAR national series drivers Brett Moffitt, Ben Rhodes and William Byron. Byron, the 2015 series champion, won the only race held at Greenville last season.
Records: The qualifying record was set in 2011 by Brett Moffitt at 87.659 mph. Moffitt went on to win the race that year from the pole, one of five times in history a race at Greenville has been won from the first starting position.
KEVIN WHITAKER CHEVROLET 140 NOTES:
Championship Feel: HScott Racing with Justin Marks has won the last four races held at Greenville Pickens Speedway, dating back to the beginning of the 2014 season, and the team has provided cars for each of the last three series champions — William Byron (2015), Ben Rhodes (2014) and Dylan Kwasniewski (2013). driving for the team this year, Justin Haley has a 36-point lead atop the standings with three races remaining, including wins at Greenville and at Columbus Motor Speedway.
Redemption For Benjamin: Kyle Benjamin, who is from nearby Easley, South Carolina, led all but 28 laps in the series’ first visit to Greenville this season, surrendering the lead to Justin Haley just seven laps from the end. He’s made two career starts at Greenville and never finished worse than 12th at the track. With a championship deficit staring him down over the final three races, another dominant performance this weekend would help his title aspirations.
Proving Ground: Though it’s only hosted 15 previous K&N Pro Series East races, the list of winners at Greenville is an impressive one. Roush Fenway Racing XFINITY Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr. is the only driver in series history two win twice at Greenville, while current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Joey Logano and Austin Dillon each have wins at the track in K&N Pro Series competition. Former series champions William Byron (2015) and Ben Rhodes (2014) each won races at Greenville during their title years, and most recent NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race winner Brett Moffitt, who holds the track qualifying record, won there in 2011.
Baize Ablaze: Rookie Hunter Baize, of Bremen, Kentucky, is the top performing K&N Pro Series East rookie this season. Baize sits fourth in the standings with nine top-10 finishes through 11 races, and he has a best finish of fifth in Iowa Speedway earlier this month. Baize has been so consistent, in fact, that since finishing 16th at Bristol in April, he has hasn’t finished worse than ninth in any of the seven races since — on all types of tracks including two road courses, two speedways and three short tracks.
As Good As A Win: Benjamin, second in the standings, took down the top honors in the K&N Pro Series East at Iowa Speedway. Benjamin finished second on the track to Todd Gilliland, but as the highest-finishing East driver, Benjamin picked up the five bonus points for a win toward his championship hopes.
Feels Like The First Time: Through the first 11 races of the season, there have been eight different NASCAR K&N Pro Series East winners — including seven first-time winners. Noah Gragson became the seventh first-time winner added to the list when he won the Stafford 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway in June. Gragson used a bold three-wide move on a green-white-checkered restart to claim his first career win in his 19th career start.
NASCAR Home Tracks: History at Greenville Pickens
The list of NASCAR track champions at Greenville Pickens Speedway includes NASCAR Hall of Fame member David Pearson, Ralph Earnhardt, Butch and Mardy Lindley, Robert Pressley and 2014 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Anthony Anders. This weekend, the track’s Renegade division joins the K&N Pro Series East on the schedule. Bobby Emory holds a commanding 198 point lead over Alexx Brezaeale (720-522) as the 2016 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series starts to come to a close.
-NASCAR Home Tracks Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com