Sunday February 16, 2014
Daniel Suarez grabs the win in the first NASCAR points race at New Smyrna Speedway. Cameron Hayley, the 2013 UNOH Battle at the Beach winner ran the final five laps side-by-side with Suarez but was unable to overtake the leader. Third place went to Brandon Jones while Ben Rhodes came home fourth and Lee Pulliam rounded out the top 5. Suarez is a NASCAR Mexico competitor who is planning to run the full season in the K&N East Series in 2014.
The fans and competitors were commenting during the post race that the heavier cars of the K&N Series allowed the top and bottom grooves to work equally, which created some outstanding side-by-side racing. Hayley started the race on the pole but lost the top spot to Kenzie Ruston, making her Kennedy Racing debut, on lap number three. Ruston held the top spot for roughly 10 laps until Brandon Jones was able to wrest the point away. Jones controlled the race and led the field through a caution period on lap 30 for a spin by the 55. After the restart Jones was quickly under assault and lost the top spot to Suarez on lap 48. Suarez led until a caution flag on lap 66 for Rusty Skewes who drilled the turn four fence with his right front. The caution flag stayed out until the midway break, when teams were allowed to come to pit lane, refuel and make minor adjustments. No tires were allowed to be changed.
The race went back to green after the halfway break and Pulliam followed Suarez to secure the second spot. Pulliam put it to Suarez’s inside and ran him clean, side-by-side for four laps before abandoning the effort. Hayley worked past Jones for third on lap 112 and then set his sites on Pulliam. On lap 115 Haylet got inside Pulliam and they ran side-by-side for five laps before Hayley was forced to check up for a lapped car. That did not deter Hayley who continued to try and pressure Pulliam. On lap 130 Hayley got inside of Pulliam again and this time the roles were reversed. When Pulliam checked up for a lapper on the 132 circuit Hayley was able to clear him and head toward Suarez. On lap 136 Clint King lost a right front and whacked the wall in turn 4. The caution period lasted until lap 142.
While Suarez and Hayley cleared the field, Ruston dropped to the inside of Pulliam in turn 2 while the 41 went to his outside. The three of them had to check up which allowed the lead cars to get away. Jones and Rhodes got by the bunch-up and assumed third and fourth. On lap 145 Hayley got underneath Suarez and the two ran side-by-side for three laps. When the white flag flew, Suarez got clear of Hayley in turns one and two but Hayley came back and got to his inside in turn three. Suarez got the drive off of turn four and beat Hayley to the line by half of a car length.
Suarez was very excited to have scored his second K&N East win of his career. “My car was terrible on the bottom in turns one and two,” said the NASCAR Drive for Diversity driver. “but if I hooked the line in turns three and four it really rotated for me. It was really great running against Cameron. He raced me hard but really clean.”
Jones was very complimentary of two-time Whelen All-American Champion Lee Pulliam, “He has a reputation of being very aggressive but he ran me really clean.” Jones lamented his choice to be a little conservative in his driving approach, “I should have pushed the issue more. I took it easy and it cost me in the end.”
The final running order for the season opening K&N East event was:
1 6 Daniel Suarez Sunoco Racing Fuel Toyota
2 98 Cameron Hayley Cabinets by Hayley Chevrolet
3 33 Brandon Jones Wolfpack Energy Services Chevrolet
4 41 Ben Rhodes * Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet
5 11 Lee Pulliam * Don Valley North Toyota
6 96 Kenzie Ruston Ben Kennedy Racing Chevrolet
7 20 Gray Gaulding Krispy Kreme Chevrolet
8 21 Mackena Bell Special Smiles Toyota
9 46 Brandon Gdovic American Messaging/Windstax.com Toyota
10 31 Kaz Grala * OzLINK Chevrolet
11 99 Patrick Staropoli * PEAK Toyota
12 52 Matt Tifft Federated Auto Parts Dodge
13 24 Brennan Newberry Qore24 Chevrolet
14 16 Brandon McReynolds NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
15 15 Nick Drake * NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
16 1 David Garbo, Jr. * Garbo Lobster Toyota
17 71 Eddie MacDonald Grimm Contracting Chevrolet
18 97 Jesse Little Vanacore Homes/NTI Chevrolet
19 4 Ronnie Bassett, Jr. * Butler Trailer Mfg. Toyota
20 43 Brodie Kostecki * Arcoplate Toyota
21 34 Scott Heckert Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet
22 4 Sergio Pena UTI/NASCAR Technical Institute Toyota
23 2 Ryan Gifford Toyota Racing Development Toyota
24 42 Jay Beasley * Toyota Racing Development Toyota
25 75 Nathan Russell * VSI Racing/Russell Stone Products Chevrolet
26 7 Clint King * Warehouse Design Chevrolet
27 22 Austin Hill * A&D Welding Ford
28 18 Sam Hunt Paragon Energy Holdings Toyota
29 51 Rusty Skewes * Top Gun Motorsports Chevrolet
30 55 Jerry Dawson * EXIT Realty Chevrolet
This report was provided by an outside PR source and posted by Mike Neff.
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