Winston-Salem, N.C. – Ronnie Bassett Jr. and the Bassett Racing No. 04 Butler Trailer Manufacturing/Roush Yates Performance team finished in the sixth position in The Granite State 100 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Bassett Jr. had to start from the tail end of the field in 26th position due to a carburetor issue found just hours before the green flag. The sixth place finish was the sixth top-10 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East finish for Bassett Jr. in the past seven races, dating all the way back to March at Greenville-Pickens Speedway.
Track activity began on Thursday, July 10 with a pair of practice sessions to get Bassett Jr. re-acclimated with New Hampshire Motor Speedway after having only one previous career start at the historic one-mile speedway. Right off the transporter, the No. 04 handled great through the flat, semi-banked turns but the team was struggling to find outright speed. In the first practice session Bassett Jr. recorded the 17th fastest lap and in the second and final session he recorded the 18th fastest lap. Bassett Jr.‘s feedback was that the car was handling great, didn‘t really slow down over the course of a long run, but just didn‘t have the speed down the long straightaways. The lack of outright speed showed in qualifying as well, when Bassett Jr. and the No. 04 team qualified in the 26th position.
On Friday, July 11 the Bassett Racing crew decided to start from the rear of the field, the penalty for working on the No. 04 during an impound event. The team set out to diagnose the lack of outright speed on the straightaways and they immediately found it within the carburetor. The team diligently worked with the NASCAR officials and replaced the malfunctioning part within an hour of the start of The Granite State 100. As soon as the green flag waived, Bassett Jr. noticed a significant change in the engine and the speed it was generating down the straightaways. The No. 04 immediately started to make the climb through the field, passing cars at every opportune moment. On lap 20 Bassett Jr. was in the 22nd position, by lap 40 he had moved into the 17th position, and by the halfway break on lap 50 the handling had really come alive and he moved the No. 04 into the 13th position. With the halfway break mandatory pitstops, the driver had communicated with the team that the No. 04 just didn’t have the short run handling or speed to contend, but as the tires wore down the car actually got better and picked up speed. This was evident by the restart on lap 50 with Bassett Jr. losing ground to cars that had new tires, dropping the No. 04 to 17th by lap 77 of the scheduled 100 laps. Bassett Jr. didn’t panic and knew as soon as the other competitors’ tires began to wear, he would be able to make his move. With three caution periods in the final 20 laps, Bassett Jr. was given that opportunity and aggressively passed multiple cars on each ensuing restart. With only five laps to go, Bassett Jr. worked his way into the 10th position, and after the leaders tangled on the last lap, the No. 04 finished in the sixth position, battling side by side with the fifth place finisher. The strong sixth-place finish propelled Bassett Jr. into the seventh position in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver point standings, a mere 19 points out of the fourth position.
Ronnie Bassett Jr.: “A really great day for everyone at Bassett Racing and my No. 04 Butler Trailer Manufacturing/Roush Yates Performance car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. We definitely had a scare with not having enough speed to really contend for a good finish on Thursday, but I knew with a little time my team was going to be able to find the problem and give me the best opportunity for a great finish. The car was an absolute monster on Friday once we fixed the issue, I could race anywhere I wanted to on the track, and think I spent most of the race racing other cars side by side, so it definitely was exciting from the drivers seat. We didn’t have the best car on short runs and new tires, bit as soon as the tires wore out and there was a long run, I don’t know if there was a faster car on the track than the No. 04. I’m really glad we bounced back with a good finish from our brake issue at Langley Speedway a few weeks ago, and our flat track program is the best its been going into Columbus Speedway.”
The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule for the No. 04 Bassett Racing Butler Trailer Manufacturing/Roush Yates Performance team and driver Ronnie Bassett Jr. will be from Columbus, Ohio and the JEGS 150 on July 19.