Ronnie Bassett Jr. and the No. 04 Jerry Hunt Auto Sales of Lexington, NC Bassett Racing Toyota Camry came into Bowman Gray Stadium with a home field advantage. Bassett Jr. was the only full-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series East competitor born, raised and currently still residing in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, home to the historic Bowman Gray Stadium. Although the No. 04 received extensive damage throughout the course of the 150 laps, Bassett Jr. was able to make a comeback of his own, coming from 10th to finish 5th in the last two laps.
Track activity for the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 from Bowman Gray Stadium began on Saturday, May 31 with a single hour and a half practice session for NASCAR K&N Pro Series East rookie to get acclimated with the quarter-mile bullring. The No. 04 recorded the 17th fastest lap, a full three-tenths of a second slower than the fastest lap. Bassett Jr. and crew never gave up and worked hard to find the issue which turned out to be an electrical issue, causing the power plant not to reach its full potential. The No. 04 Bassett Racing team went into qualifying with a bit of an unknown, but Bassett Jr. left it all on the racetrack. Bassett Jr. and the No. 04 Jerry Hunt Auto Sales of Lexington, NC Toyota Camry qualified in the 4th position, a full two tenths of a second faster than their practice time.
Starting from the 4th position in the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150, Bassett Jr. was caught on the outside line for the first few restarts and fell to mid-pack by the halfway mark but remained on the lead lap. On the lap 83 restart, Bassett Jr. experienced transmission issues when shifting between the third and fourth gear, losing all of his track position but was the last car on the lead lap. On the ensuing caution period, Bassett Jr. brought the No. 04 Jerry Hunt Auto Sales of Lexington, NC Toyota Camry to the pits to the attention of the Bassett Racing crew. The No. 04 lost a lap in the pits and came out in the 15th position, but Bassett Jr. never gave up. From there he raced extremely hard against the competition, was able to race his way back onto the lead lap, and with a mere 15 laps remaining held the 11th position. A single-car spin on lap 144 out of the 150 laps brought the field under caution and setup a green-white-checkered finish. Bassett Jr. restarted with two laps to go in the 10th position and immediately began to move to the front of the field on the inside line. On the last lap Bassett Jr., while running in the 8th position, was involved in a multi-car incident in turns three and four. The No. 04 received a bump from the rear and sent Bassett Jr. sliding and into the car directly in front. He somehow controlled the car, avoided the spinning cars, took to the grass and passed one more, miraculously going from 8th to 5th on the last corner, on the last lap. The 5th place finish was the 4th straight top-10 finish for Bassett Jr., and the 3rd top-5 finish in the last 4 races.
Ronnie Bassett Jr.
“Wow, this was my first time competing in a stock car at Bowman Gray and it was definitely the craziest race that I’ve ever been in. It was the most exciting race I had ever been apart of as well, we dodged multiple incidents, had transmission issues, came from the back to the front with under 10 laps to go, but we all learned a valuable lesson tonight which was to never give up. It would have been easy for my crew to throw in the towel when we had transmission issues but they worked hard to remedy the problem and get me back onto the track while only losing one lap in the pits. From that point it was really just about staying out of trouble, and avoiding the incidents. The green-white-checkered finish was really exciting and the fans definitely saw some great racing action, to finish in the 5th position after where we started with two laps to go is unbelievable. I have to thank everyone at Jerry Hunt Auto Sales of Lexington, NC and everyone at Bassett Racing, we weren’t the fastest car but we made the best out of the situation and got a top-5 finish.”
The NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 from Bowman Gray can been seen on Fox Sports 1 on Saturday, June 7at 10:30am EST. With the 5th place finish Bassett Jr. moved from 9th to the 8th position in the driver point standings. The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule for the No. 04 Bassett Racing Toyota Camry of Ronnie Bassett Jr. will be from Pensecola, Florida on June 13.
– Bassett Racing press release. Photo credit: Matthew Dillner, Speed51.com