DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points battle is headed to the "The World's Fastest Half-Mile" with four talented young drivers looking to make a championship statement Saturday.
Austin Hill leads the way, as the NASCAR Next driver kicked off the season with a win at Florida's New Smyrna Speedway and a fourth at South Carolina's Greenville Pickens Speedway. The 20-year-old Winston, Georgia, native finished fifth at Bristol last year, but has proven he can win at a big track with back-to-back wins at Dover International Speedway.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate William Byron trails Hill by just three points after earning his first career win at Greenville. Byron, 17, from Charlotte, North Carolina, holds a slim two-point edge over his HScott Motorsports With Justin Marks teammate Dalton Sargeant and Gray Gaulding.
Sargeant, 17, can become the first driver to lead both the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West simultaneously. The Boca Raton, Florida native, has a win, a second and two thirds in four starts between the two series. He picked up his first NASCAR win last month at the K&N Pro Series West opener at California’s Kern County Raceway Park.
Gaulding, 17, finished second to Eddie MacDonald at Bristol last year, and the Colonial Heights, Virginia, driver has a third and second this season.
PLACE: Bristol Motor Speedway
DATE: Saturday, April 18
TIME: 4:30 p.m. ET
TV SCHEDULE: NBCSN, Thursday, April 23 TBA
TRACK LAYOUT: .533-mile high-banked oval
2014 WINNER: Eddie MacDonald
2014 POLE SITTER: Ben Rhodes
EVENT SCHEDULE: Thursday- Practice: 12:30-1:15 p.m.; Rookie Practice: 1:30-2:00 p.m.; Final Practice: 2:15-3:00 p.m.; Qualifying (2-Laps): 5:00 p.m.; Saturday- Driver Autograph Session: 12:15-1:00 p.m.; Driver Introductions: 4:15 p.m.; PittLite125: 4:30 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT: Dana Landry, (423) 989-6991 or [email protected]
TRACK TWITTER: @BMSUpdates
EVENT TWITTER HASHTAG: #PittLite125
NASCAR IMC CONTACT: Brooke Franceschini, (386) 631-6142 or [email protected], @BrookeFran04
The Race: The PittLite125 is the third event of the season for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. It’s the third of 14 oval track events and 14 races, overall, on the 2015 schedule. This is the series’ fourth visit to the iconic high-banked Tennessee oval.
The Procedure: The starting field is 36 cars, including provisionals. The first 32 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 125 laps covering 66.625 miles with a break at or near the conclusion of lap 65.
The Track: Bristol Motor Speedway opened in 1961 and hosted its first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on July 30, 1961 won by Jack Smith. The .533-mile concrete oval has 600-foot straightaways with five to nine degrees of banking on the frontstretch and four to eight degrees on the backstretch. The turns are progressively banked from 24 to 28 degrees. The racing surface is 40 feet wide.
The Records: The one-lap qualifying record for the series at Bristol of 15.898 seconds (120.694 mph) is held by Michael McGuire and was established on March 16, 2013. The 125-Lap race record of one hour, two minutes and six seconds (65.402) was set on March 17, 2012 by Nelson Piquet Jr. in a race that was extended to 127 laps.
BRISTOL RACE NOTES
Team To Watch
Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones will be behind the wheel for NTS Motorsports Saturday. Hemric will be making his second series start after winning the pole and finishing fifth at Greenville. Jones will be making his season debut, but is no stranger to the K&N Pro East. Jones won the NASCAR K&N Pro combination race at Iowa last August and finished eighth at Bristol last March.
K&N Pro Series veterans Eddie MacDonald and Jesse Little will be making their season debut Saturday. The defending race winner, MacDonald will be making his 183 K&N Pro Series East start. He has earned seven wins, 34 top fives and 89 top 10 finishes. NASCAR Next driver Jesse Little will be making his 38th series’ start and looks to redeem himself at Bristol where he finished 13th last year.
A New Face
Sarah Cornett-Ching will be making her NASCAR K&N Pro East debut. The 23-year-old Summerland, British Columbia will be driving the No. 18 for Sam Hunt Racing. Cornett-Ching has competed in three ARCA races this season, with her best finish being 11th at Nashville. She also has competed in one NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event in 2011 and finished 14th.
Food City Night Race Night
On Friday, Bristol Motor Speedway in conjunction with sponsor Food City to host Food City Race Night. Select K&N Pro Series East drivers will be on hand from 6-9 p.m.to meet and sign autographs for fans. There will also be free food sampling (while supplies last), live entertainment, cup drivers and fireworks throughout the night.
-NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com