DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – David Mayhew is heading back to his home track, in search of his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series West victory at the half-mile he’s become very familiar with in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
In 2013, Mayhew took a break from his K&N Pro Series West schedule in order to compete for a late model championship at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California, during its inaugural season. He completed the mission, recording 15 wins in 22 starts, but has been unable to convert that success to a K&N victory in two attempts thus far. The Atascadero, California, native hopes that the third time’s a charm as he heads into Saturday’s Bakersfield 150 at the .5-mile oval.
Mayhew, coming off his third series win of the season the last time out at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington, came close to a Kern County victory earlier this year. He overtook Greg Pursley for the lead on Lap 114 of the 150-lap event, but a late-race caution changed everything. The Lap 136 caution set up a restart on Lap 142. Mayhew and Pursley waged a side-by-side battle that figured to go all the way to the checkered flag, but as the pair came through Turn 2 on Lap 146, the slowed car of Bill Kann was in Mayhew’s line and he had to put on the brakes to avoid contact. The evasive action dropped Mayhew to fourth in the moment, and Pursley cruised for the final four circuits in the No. 26 GPM/Star Nursery/Real Water Ford to his 19th career victory.
Mayhew would earn back a spot, ultimately finishing third on the evening, but he knew that he missed an opportunity to celebrate in front of a home crowd.
“We gave one away the last time we were there,” said Mayhew. “We’d love nothing better than to go to our home track and try and get two in a row.”
Mayhew enters the Bakersfield 150 presented by GPS on Saturday in fourth place in the championship standings, trailing points leader Pursley by 40 points. His three victories have come at Stockton (California) 99 Speedway, the May Iowa Speedway event and the last time out at Evergreen Speedway.
The Race: The Bakersfield 150 is the 11th race of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season. It is the ninth of 12 oval track events and 14 races overall on the schedule. This is the series’ third visit to the track that opened in May 2013 and second visit this season.
The Procedure: The starting field is 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 22 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials while the remaining four starting spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps covering 75 miles and will be run in two segments with a break at or near the conclusion of Lap 75.
The Track: Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, Calif., sits on 120 acres and opened on May 18, 2013 with a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event. The facility has seating for 5,000 spectators and is expandable to more than 15,000. The half-mile oval with progressive banking of 12 and 14 degrees in the turns and eight degrees of banking on the front and backstretches.
The Records: The one-lap qualifying record was set by Gray Gaulding on Oct. 26, 2013 at 17.908 seconds (100.514 mph). The 150-lap race record was established by Greg Pursley on Oct. 26, 2013 at 1 hr., 10 min., 46 sec., for an average speed of 63.589 mph.
KERN COUNTY RACE NOTES
Looking For Three-In-A-Row: K&N Pro Series West points leader Greg Pursley has two victories in two visits to Kern County. He went to Victory Lane in the series’ inaugural event at the .5-mile oval and again earlier this season. Pursley heads to Kern County Raceway Park hoping to bounce back from his worst finish of the season, an 11th place effort at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington. The 2011 series champion had top-five finishes in every event this season before electrical problems caused him to break that streak the last time out.
Let’s Play Two: Kern County Raceway Park is one of three tracks to host a pair of K&N West events this season. The series already has made two trips to Iowa Speedway, with a return trip to Phoenix International Raceway set for Thursday, Nov. 6.
New Places: The K&N Pro Series West made its inaugural visit to Kern County Raceway Park last October and has made first-time visits to a number of tracks in recent seasons. In 2012, the series competed at Havasu 95 Speedway in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and NAPA Speedway in Albuquerque, N.M., for the first time. Last season, a trip to Lebanon (Mo.) I-44 Speedway was a first-time event. This year, the K&N West returned to Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway for the first time since 2011 and Stateline Speedway in Post Falls, Idaho, after not racing at the quarter-mile track since 1985.
Back To The Future: NASCAR Next driver and 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Sunoco Rookie of the Year Jesse Little returns to the K&N Pro Series West in the Bakersfield 150, his second series event of the season. Little finished fifth at Kern County earlier this season after making his series debut in November 2013 at Phoenix International Raceway with a runner-up finish to fellow NASCAR Next class member Cole Custer. Little is the son of 1987 K&N Pro Series West champion and current Managing Director of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Chad Little.
Back In Action: Taylor Cuzick and the No. 42 Freightliner of Arizona Ford are back in action this weekend for the first time since the Casey’s General Store 150 at Iowa Speedway. It will be the fifth K&N Pro Series West event of the season for the 23-year-old Tolleson, Arizona, native, and likely not his last. The team and driver hope to run a few more events this season and are already thinking about 2015. Cuzick has top-10 finishes in all four of the events he’s competed in this year.
Home Tracks Update: Brian Richardson has a commanding lead in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Citgo Lubricants Late Model classification standings at Kern County Raceway Park. The Bakersfield, Calif., driver leads Lance Wilson and Buddy Shepherd as all three drivers are seeking their first premier division title at the track.
LAST TIME OUT: NAPA Auto Parts/Toyota 150 at Evergreen Speedway
David Mayhew made a daring last-lap pass of Dylan Lupton to claim his third series victory of 2014 in the NAPA Auto Parts/Toyota 150 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington, on Aug. 16. NASCAR Next drivers Brandon McReynolds and Dylan Lupton finished second and third respectively.
• Series points leader Greg Pursley finished outside of the top five and top 10 for the first time this season. The 11th place effort was Pursley’s worst finish since a 14th place finish in the 2013 season finale at Phoenix International Raceway.
• McReynolds’ second-place finish was his best K&N Pro Series result to date, spanning 12 career Pro Series West and 14 Pro Series East events.
• Nicole Behar made her second career K&N Pro Series West start, finishing 17th after an accident ended her night with 24 laps remaining. She had been running sixth she was nudged from behind and sent spinning into the Turn 1 wall. Behar tied the highest female by a K&N Pro Series West competitor, sixth, with her run at State Line Speedway in Post Falls, Idaho, earlier this season.
NEXT TIME OUT: Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will run the second of two road course events on the 2014 calendar when it heads to Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, on Saturday, Sept. 13. It will mark the series’ eighth event at the 2.2-mile road course. Last season, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 driver Andrew Ranger took the checkered flag, beating out Greg Pursley by 1.632 seconds for the second series victory for the Roxton Pond, Quebec, driver.