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Keeping Pace

Smith rolling strong on NASCAR K&N Pro Series West

Moses Smith came to NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West circuit known for his road course skills. Over this season the Arizona native has added to his ability to turn the car in either direction with strong finishes on ovals. With the series returing to a road course this week Smith will be in the hunt for his first career NASCAR victory.


Courtesy: K. Green, NASCAR Media Relations

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -  With top-five finishes at Miller Motorsports Park in 2008 and 2009, Moses Smith (No. 16 HASA Pool Products/White Flyer Toyota) is looking forward to this year’s return of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West to the 3.048-mile road course.

The series heads back to the Tooele, Utah, track this week for the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge on Sunday, Sept. 12. The West’s oldest stock car racing circuit will be part of a big racing weekend at MMP that includes the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series on Saturday, Sept. 11.

Smith is hopeful of building on his success of the last two seasons at the motorsports complex west of Salt Lake City.

“We’ve really been trying to develop our road course program at the other two races, Infineon and Portland,” he said. “After Portland, we brought the car home and tore it all down and tried to get it so it will be even better. Hopefully, we’ll get to Miller and get a podium finish. We’re so close, finishing in the top five the last two times.”

Smith came to NASCAR with a road racing background, but after three full seasons in the series, he admits that he no longer has as much of a preference for turning left and right.

“A year ago, I would have said I prefer the road courses,” Smith said. “But this year, we’ve really worked on our short track program and we’ve had better results on the short tracks than the road courses.”

Now, it’s a matter of improving the road racing car, according to Smith.

“We’re still trying to develop our road course package and get a car that’s going to be as competitive as our short track car,” he said. “I think we’re getting closer. We’re getting closer every race. I love going to the road courses, because that’s like home to me. We’ve just had some tough luck at those events.”

Smith’s overall success this year has landed him in the middle of a very tight points battle. He is sixth in the championship standings, with three top-five and five top-10 finishes in the first nine races. But with just 54 points separating the five drivers in fourth through eighth, a driver can move multiple positions up or down with a good finish or a bad finish. 

Naturally, Smith has mixed feelings about being in such a tight battle.

“If we have a good weekend, I love how tight they are, because I can shoot up three or four spots,” he said. “But when we don’t do so well, I don’t like how tight it is, because we can drop three or four spots. But it makes it pretty neat. I like how close we are all running.”

Smith is optimistic, meanwhile, of being able to close out with strong performances in the three races remaining on the schedule.

“I’m hoping the points stay tight and we can keep moving up the ladder,” he said. “I’d love to finish in the top three for the championship. It’s going to be some work and we’re going to need some luck over the next few races, but I think it’s still doable.”

Smith, who made his 50th series start at Colorado, was asked if a milestone like that is important to him as a driver.

“I think it gives us a good point to see how we’ve been progressing,” he said. “I think it’s really important. I think this season, in the last eight to 10 races, we’ve really come along as a team and I’m getting more comfortable in the cars.

“The guys on the team are awesome,” he said. “I think they’re the best in the series. It’s taken a little while. It’s nice to use that 50th race as a benchmark to see how we’re progressing.”

 

Fast Facts

The Race: Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge

The Place: Miller Motorsports Park, Tooele, Utah

The Date: Sunday, Sept. 12

The Time: 3:40 p.m. MT

TV Schedule: SPEED, Sept. 16, 3 p.m. PT

Track Layout: 3.048-mile road course

Race Purse: $143,180

2009 Winner: Patrick Long

2009 Pole: Patrick Long

Schedule:  Sunday: Practice 9.-10:30 a.m., Time Trials 12:25 p.m.

Race Notes

The race … This event is the 10th race for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in 2010. It is the third of three road-course events this season and marks the only visit to the state of Utah this year.

The track … Miller Motorsports Park is a multi-purpose road course with four possible configurations. The track is located adjacent to Tooele County’s Deseret Peak Recreation Complex, approximately 35 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City.

The procedure … The starting field is 28 cars, including provisionals. The first 24 cars will qualify through time trials. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 36 laps.

The records … Qualifying: Jason Bowles, Aug. 2, 2008, 94.888 mph, 116.095 seconds; Race: Patrick Long, Aug. 1, 2009, 70.948 mph, 1 hour 46 minutes 6 seconds.

Remaining races … The three races that remain on the 2010 schedule include a road course, Miller Motorsports Park on Sept. 12; a short track, All American Speedway on Oct. 16; and a speedway, Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 13.

 

Long Aims To Repeat At Miller Motorsports Park

Patrick Long will be back in action in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at Miller Motorsports Park — trying to defend his title as last year’s race winner and looking for his second win in just his second series start this season.

Long is entered in the No. 9 Grape King/Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil Ford, in which he won the pole and led 34 laps en route to the win for car owner Bob Bruncati last year at MMP.

Long, who races NASCAR stock cars on his off weekends as a factory driver for Porsche, is one-for-one this season. He won the series event on the road course at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway in July, driving an entry for car owner Darryl Wong.

 

Last year’s event …

Patrick Long dominated the competition at Miller Motorsports Park in this event a year ago to capture his first career victory in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.

He won the 41-lap event on the massive 14-turn road course by more than five seconds over series rookie Paulie Harraka, who started the race last. Long’s teammate in the series, Jason Bowles, was third.

Long, a full-time Porsche factory driver, and Bowles had the dominant cars from the drop of the green flag, pulling away from the field in the similarly painted cars of car owner Bob Bruncati. Although Long, who had won the Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying, led initially – they were soon swapping the top spot back and forth.

About the only time one of the two cars was not out front was while the field was cycling through pit stops. Long relinquished the lead on Lap 16 and Bowles gave up the lead two laps later to pit. An early pit stop by Harraka’s Bill McAnally Racing team, meanwhile, helped him gain track position and get to the front of the field.

When the pack lined up for a restart just before the midway point of the race, Long was back out front, Harraka was fifth and Bowles was seventh. Harraka made his way to second, with Bowles closing in on his back bumper. Although Bowles pressured Harraka for the runner-up spot, he eventually faded with a tire leak and had to settle for a distant third.

Greg Pursley crossed the line in fourth – while Moses Smith finished fifth, giving Bill McAnally Racing a second car in the top five.

Rounding out the top 10 were Brian Wong, Todd Souza, Eric Holmes, Blake Koch and Kyle Kelley.

A flat tire two laps from the finish relegated Hershel McGriff to a 19th-place finish.

 

Final Notes From Colorado

Holmes rolls on … Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Toyota) scored his second straight win and fourth of the season with a  victory in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge 150 at Colorado National Speedway in Dacono, Colo., on Aug. 14. The win netted the two-time series champion a $10,000 bonus as he won his third race in the five-race Toyota/NAPA Bonus Challenge. With the victory, which was his 13th career series win, Holmes extended his lead in the championship standings to 114 points.

Pole to Martinez … Series rookie Luis Martinez Jr. (No. 6 King Taco/Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil Ford) set the fast time mark in qualifying  at Colorado, giving him his first 21 Means 21 Pole Award by Coors Brewing Company. Martinez, the leading candidate for this year’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, battled Eric Holmes for the top spot in the race — leading twice for 31 laps and coming away with a career-best third-place finish.

 

Up Next: Return to All American

Next on the schedule for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West is a return on Oct. 16 to All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif. - where the series kicked off its schedule in March.

Paulie Harraka (No. 12 NAPA Gold Filters Toyota) won from the pole position in the two most recent races at Roseville, which is considered his home track.

 

This Week’s Leaders

Through 9 races of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season:

Points leader – Eric Holmes, 1,482

Money won – Eric Holmes, $64,285

Laps led – Eric Holmes, 272

Laps completed – Jonathon Gomez, 1,240

Average finish – Eric Holmes, 5.6

Victories – Eric Holmes, 4

Poles – David Mayhew, 3 

Top-five finishes – Eric Holmes, 7; David Mayhew, 7

Top-10 finishes – Eric Holmes, 8

Races led – Eric Holmes, 4; David Mayhew, 4; Greg Pursley, 4

 

2010 SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR STANDINGS

Luis Martinez Jr., 75

Michael Self, 70

Todd Souza, 63

Josh Combs, 50

Travis Milburn, 48

Greg Rayl, 44

Troy Ermish, 38

Taylor Barton, 35

Justin Funkhouser, 26

 

COORS LIGHT POLE AWARD STANDINGS

David Mayhew, 3

Greg Pursley, 2

Jason Bowles, 1

Paulie Harraka, 1

Luis Martinez Jr., 1

Andrew Myers, 1

 

COCA-COLA MOVE OF THE RACE AWARD STANDINGS

Wes Banks, 1

Troy Ermish, 1

Johnathan Hale, 1

Paulie Harraka, 1

Timmy Hill, 1

Gary Lewis, 1

Stan Silva, 1

Moses Smith, 1

Todd Souza, 1

 

FEATHERLITE MOST IMPROVED DRIVER AWARD STANDINGS

Blake Koch, 2

Paulie Harraka, 1

Eric Holmes, 1

Travis Milburn, 1

Paul Pedroncelli Jr., 1

Greg Pursley, 1

Michael Self, 1

Moses Smith, 1

 

WIX LAP LEADER AWARD STANDINGS

David Mayhew, 2

David Gilliland, 1

Jonathon Gomez, 1

Eric Holmes, 1

Patrick Long, 1

Luis Martinez Jr., 1

Brett Moffitt, 1

Auggie Vidovich, 1


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Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.

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