After a fire tore through the Bassett Racing shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina a couple of weeks ago, Ronnie Bassett didn’t know if he’d race at all the rest of the year. Fellow NASCAR K&N Pro Series East racer David Calabrese stepped out of his car to let Bassett race at Dominion Raceway (VA) on Memorial Day in a one-race deal. That deal has now been extended.
Bassett will be racing Calabrese’s No. 43 Ford Fusion for the remainder of the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule.
“It feels really good,” Bassett told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “At that point in time we didn’t think we were going to be able to race anymore this year. It was pretty neat to know that another racer stepped in to help us out. It’s something that I guess he’s doing out of the goodness of his heart.”
Calabrese said that he and Bassett immediately clicked at Dominion, and that’s part of what made him want to keep Bassett in the car the rest of the season.
“I didn’t expect it to click at all right away,” Calabrese said. “I really had never really met him, I had met him once just like the other article said. We barely knew each other, but pretty much we have a lot of the same things in common with the way things have to be done with a family-owned team. The way we have to spend money and where we have to watch certain things that we have to do.”
Bassett ran in the top five for much of the 125-lap race at Dominion in Calabrese’s car before finishing 19th after getting caught in a late-race crash on a restart.
“Ronnie did awesome in the car, he adapted really well,” said Calabrese. “He wasn’t going 100-percent the whole entire time because he was on the nervous side I guess you could say with it not being his equipment. He had nothing to really do with the car at that time. It was just pretty much a show up and drive kind of deal. But he ran really good in it. It definitely turned some heads.”
Calabrese, a former regular with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, said another reason why he’s stepping out of the car is to help strengthen the race team for the future.
“Ronnie has all the experience to get the team going in the right direction and getting the right setup books built for the cars and everything like that,” he said. “It gives us a jumpstart on things for next year. I’m looking at the big picture instead of the small picture. A lot of people look at the small picture and say, ‘let’s go racing, let’s go racing.’ I’d rather make a business out of it and run good with myself instead of struggle next year. I’m really looking forward to building a team with him and having him in the car for the rest of the season, and possibly we can get something together for next year for him to drive for us.”
Bassett currently sits seventh in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings, 41 points back with eight races remaining.
“(The goal is) to go out and win some races,” said Bassett. “I want to have a chance to win races at the end of races. We’ll tune on it better during practice to make sure we’re there at the end of these races. If we win races, then a chance at the championship will come.”
The next NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event will be at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday, June 17. Speed51.com will provide Race Central Live coverage on NASCARHometracks.com.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: David Calabrese photo