With his mullet flapping in the breeze beneath his helmet, Jesse Little sped to his third career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East pole award Thursday afternoon. Little set fast time at Bristol Motor Speedway over a field of 29 cars and will lead the field to green in the PittLite 125 Saturday in “Thunder Valley.”
It was Little’s first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East qualifying attempt of the 2015 season behind the wheel of the PFC Brakes-backed No. 97 for Larry McReynolds Racing. It also broke a two-year old series track qualifying record.
So was it the new car and team combination that made him so fast Thursday? Was it the freshness of a first run of the season?
Or was it the hair?
“That’s certainly what it was,” joked Little to Speed51.com after receiving his 21 Means 21 Pole Award.
Whatever it was, it will put Little P1 when the green flag falls at approximately 4:30pm ET Saturday.
“I’m extremely excited to get the pole here at Bristol. I really, really look forward to these big tracks. It’s one that I fit well on. This is my third pole and they’ve all come at Iowa, Dover and now Bristol. I’m definitely happy to check this one off and hopefully we will end Saturday afternoon the way we start.”
Not surprisingly, after having poles on three of the K&N East circuit’s fastest tracks, Little was quick to point out that speedy facilities fit his driving style.
“The faster I can go, the better,” added Little. “I love qualifying. That’s one thing I look forward to the most, just going out there and setting the fastest lap I can. It benefits me well and hopefully we can keep these coming.”
Little skipped the first two K&N East races of the season with his Larry McReynolds Racing team, but made a big impact in his first run for his new team.
“We downsized from what we were doing the last couple years. We’re only running all the combination events, so all of your companion races with XFINITY and/or Cup or both. That way we can focus on what we’re trying to start with the Truck stuff. The partnership with Larry McReynolds, so far, is working out really well for us. It kind of came about in the winter. They’re great people to work with and Larry’s very cool. I’m super fortunate to get the opportunity and hopefully we’ll go out there and make them look good.”
Already having proven what it takes to go fast for two qualifying laps, now Little has his game plan in place for 125 Saturday afternoon.
“With tires not being too big of a concern, you’re going to need to be aggressive. I think you’re going to see a lot of guys being aggressive and taking chances. This track is really hard to pass on even with the banking it gives you. It’s going to be hard for us to not save our stuff, but at the same time be conservative. We’ll do what we can and run our race. We’ve got a fast car, so we’ll see what happens.”
NTS Motorsports teammates Brandon Jones and Daniel Hemric will start second and third, respectively, behind Little Saturday afternoon. HScott Motorsports teammates William Byron and JJ Haley rounded out the top five.
Speed51.com will power the NASCAR Home Tracks Race Central Live coverage of the PittLite 125 at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday beginning at 12pm ET.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director – Twitter: @MattKentfield
– Photo credit: Speed51.com