With the one win already under his belt, Greg Pursley is ready for another victory. “I’d really like to win another race before the year is out and Iowa would be a great one to win,” he said of the Long John Silver’s 200, the annual NASCAR Camping World Series East-West combination race on May 17 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. “Going there with the East and the West, it would be great to win there.”
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Greg Pursley (No. 26 Gene Price Motorsports/Star Nursery Chevrolet) returned to the NASCAR Camping World Series West full time this season with guarded optimism.
“My goal was to come to the races and try to finish in the top five and maybe win a race through the year,” said the 41-year-old former motorcycle racer, “and really go at it hard next year.”
Those goals were met – and more – when he opened the season with a victory at Kyle, Texas. Four races into the year, Pursley has three top-five and four top-10 finishes, and sits third in the points standings, just 75 out of first.
“It’s really gone great,” Pursley said. “I’m really trying to drive smarter this year and stay out of trouble and be there with a car at the end of the race to try to have something to be in the top five.”
Pursley knew first-hand what to expect in the series. He had raced the full 2002 season in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, finishing second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings and ninth in the overall points.
But in the seven years since that initial foray, Pursley had turned his focus back to racing his Super Late Model stock car at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.). The move bolstered his racing career, as he captured major attention with a couple of titles. He won the national championship in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 2004. Then, after working as a crew chief for car owner Gene Price for several years, Pursley jumped in a car at the end of the 2007 season and won the Super Late Model portion of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
After that win, Pursley began planning a return to the NASCAR Camping World Series West.
“I kind of wanted to move up for myself, as a driver in the series,” he recalled. “I got away from all the Super Late Model stuff and bought my own Camping World Series car. I raced a couple of races there and Gene helped me out and pretty much from there it took off.”
With Price as the car owner, Pursley was able to come back to the series full time this year.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Pursley said. “I have a new crew chief, Danny Crafton, and a new team. It seems like everything has come together really well. We’ve all gelled together. Being away for a while and having a few more years under my belt, I’ve learned a little more and gained some more patience. And we’re running really well this season.”
Pursley says he has benefited from the experience he gained while away from the series.
“It’s helped tremendously,” he said. “It’s still a big step going from the lighter cars I’m used to driving into pretty much a (NASCAR Sprint) Cup (Series) car. And weight wise, it’s a totally different driving style. I’m slowly learning that. I’ll tell you what, my crew chief, Danny Crafton, has helped me a ton doing that. His son, Matt, who runs the (NASCAR Camping World) Truck Series, actually spotted for me at Phoenix and helped me out a ton there, too.”
Things have gone so well with his team, that Pursley opted recently to move from Newhall, Calif., to where his team is based in Parker, Ariz.
“Gene built a brand new shop right across the street from his house,” Pursley said. “I live three miles from the shop. A couple of the other guys that work there are right down the street from the shop. It’s working really well.”
Pursley admits the move and setting up a new shop has put them a little behind, but expects they will get caught up soon.
“We’re trying to race and make the shop work and get moved in and get organized and stuff,” Pursley said. “So, it’s a little hectic right now, but hopefully halfway through the year, we’ll be okay.”
The crewmembers they have assembled on the team make for a tight-knit group, according to Pursley.
“Pretty much all the guys have been in racing a long time,” he said. “I’ve known them a long time and they’ve all been on teams together. Everybody gets along great and it’s fun to go race.”
Pursley says it gives him confidence as a driver to be surrounded by a team with so much experience.
“You don’t have to worry about anybody doing their jobs, because they’ve done it for a long time and they know what they’re doing,” he said. “It makes it a heck of a lot easier on me as a driver knowing that everything’s done right. These guys all know what they’re doing, especially Danny. He’s been back in North Carolina. He’s worked for Robert Yates; he’s worked for Michael Waltrip. And I have a ton of faith in him. He knows what he’s doing. So, it makes it a lot easier on me, where I just worry about driving.”
With the one win already under his belt, Pursley is ready for another victory. “I’d really like to win another race before the year is out and Iowa would be a great one to win,” he said of the Long John Silver’s 200, the annual NASCAR Camping World Series East-West combination race on May 17 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. “Going there with the East and the West, it would be great to win there.”
The combination race, which attracts NASCAR’s top developmental drivers from across the country, was one of four races Pursley entered while running a limited schedule last year.
“I’m really excited about going there, being as we did race there last year,” he said. “We kind of know what to expect now. We’ll be going there with the car that we ran at Phoenix and set the track record and won the pole. I really like that car. I’m really comfortable in it.”