Patrick Long led by as much as 10 seconds in the first half of the race before making a green-flag stop for gas. He restarted on Lap 36 in 14th and picked up nine spots on the ensuing lap. He retook the lead for good from Greg Pursley on Lap 45
NASCAR Media Relations
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Patrick Long showed off his road-course expertise, dominating the BI-MART Salute to the Troops 125 at Portland International Raceway Sunday.
It's Long's second NASCAR K&N Pro Series West win. The 28-year-old Porche factory driver from Thousand Oaks, Calif., won last year's race at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah in his last series start.
|5||6||Luis Martinez Jr.|
“I wanted to have a really good balance in the car,” Long said of his No. 45 Speed Wong Racing Dodge. “We went very different, or unconventional, in our set-up. I think it was really the edge that we needed. With that, we had unbelievable tire wear. That Speed Wong car was just hooked up.”
Long led by as much as 10 seconds in the first half of the race before making a green-flag stop for gas. He restarted on Lap 36 in 14th and picked up nine spots on the ensuing lap. He retook the lead for good from Greg Pursley on Lap 45.
“We went over and over all our scenarios,” Long said of their game plan. “We were determined not to make the same mistake a few had made last year, where they stopped very early and had great track position, but ran out of fuel at the end. I knew how good this car was and I knew we didn’t have to be heroes on the strategy. We were going to be there at the end if we could keep our nose clean. So, it was really about having a good set up and saving the tires.”
Long admitted, meanwhile, that he and his crew chief, Lonnie Rush, ended up making a pit stop that was not initially planned.
“We made that call for tires late,” Long said. “It was basically down to how the chips fell with the yellow flag. We made our fuel (stop) under green. We didn’t pay attention to any other strategies. We were racing our own race. But just after we made our fuel stop, it went yellow. We were already at the back of the line, so basically it was a free stop to take tires. I think that’s a little bit unconventional in road racing in the K&N West series, but it worked out for us. We just hit all our marks for the rest of the day.”
The race was extended two laps by a late caution to 65, and ended under the yellow flag after an abbreviated attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.
The win earned Long, who led a race-high 51 laps, a secure starting position in the postseason NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
Eric Holmes was second, followed by his teammate, Paulie Harraka, who battled back after being involved in an earlier incident. David Mayhew, who won the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day, was fourth and Luis Martinez Jr. fifth, equaling his career-best mark.
Blake Koch, Stan Silva Jr., Travis Milburn, Greg Pursley and Tom Klauer rounded out the top 10.
Holmes pushed his lead in the championship standings to 84 points over Mayhew. Harraka moved up two spots to third, 118 points behind Holmes.
“We didn’t have best car,” Holmes said of his event. “The NAPA team did a great job making adjustments and great pit strategy. It got us up there. I just drove a points day race, is what I call it. I knew we couldn’t compete with the 17 (Mayhew) and 45 (Long). We just hung in there and ended up finishing second. So, it ended up being a great day for us.”
The BI-MART Salute to the Troops 125 will air on SPEED on Thursday, July 29 at 3 p.m. PT
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will next race in the third round of the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge at Montana Raceway Park in Kalispell, Montana, Saturday, Aug. 7.