Race fans will get a big treat this weekend when one of racing’s biggest names competes in the Toyota/NAPA 150 on Saturday at Spokane County Raceway Park.
Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip will take part in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race, driving in Spokane for the first time in his career.
“I can’t wait to fly out to Washington State to see all the fans out there,” said Waltrip. “I have a blast whenever I get to race and that’s a part of the country we don’t get to visit too often.”
Waltrip makes occasional starts on the K&N Pro Series when his Fox Sports announcing duties allow. Last year he competed at Colorado National Speedway for West Series car owner Bill McAnally. Waltrip is scheduled to drive for McAnally on Saturday followed by an October start in Roseville, Calif. Waltrip has one win (Pikes Peak in 1997), three top-five and five top-10 finishes in six series starts.
Many drivers of NASCAR’s recent youth movement have emerged from the series including Joey Lagano, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott. The series has a West and East Division and defending West champion Dylan Kwasniewski is out to make history as he leads the East Series championship standings. The Las Vegas native looks to win each division in consecutive years en route to becoming the first in history to accomplish the feat.
When the two series came together earlier this season to compete at Iowa Speedway, the parity of the drivers was apparent. Michael Self, who drives for Richard Childress Racing, became the first West Series driver to win at Iowa. Calgary’s Cameron Hayley won the Daytona event.
Hayley leads all West Series drivers this season with five pole awards. The 17-year-old currently holds down the second position in the championship standings behind Derek Thorn and is returning to Spokane County Raceway where he’s tested his Ford Fusion earlier this summer and where he made his second career start back in 2011.
Also in the mix will be three-time series champion Eric Holmes, who will be back to defend his 2011 win at SCR. The series did not come to Spokane last year. Thorn made contact with Holmes NAPA Toyota late in the race last weekend at Evergreen Speedway that cost Holmes the victory.
Evergreen also provided Medical Lake’s Braeden Havens with an opportunity to impress as he drove to a fourth-place finish.
“We were solid all night last weekend and are hoping to be just as good on Saturday night,” said Havens. “To have the NASCAR K&N Pro Series back in town is awesome for our community and the race fans and I know we’re going to put on a great show,”
Also here Saturday is Greg Pursley, the 2011 series champ who finished runner-up to teammate Kwasniewski last year. Another driver to watch will be last week’s winner, Dylan Lupton. The 19-year-old from Sacramento, Calif., is locked in a battle for the 2013 Rookie of the Year crown with Giles Thornton.
Both drivers cut their teeth in Late Model racing prior to making the jump into the K&N Pro Series. For Lupton, the win last week put him up by 14 points among rookies.