NASCAR K&N Pro Series East News & Notes: Road Atlanta
- Published: Tuesday, October 15 2013 09:17
Inaugural Event Will Be 2013 Season Finale
Championship Comes Down To Kwasniewski Versus Moffitt
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 14, 2013) – Could this finally be the year for Brett Moffitt? Recent misfortune for Dylan Kwasniewski has certainly left the door wide open.
A title picture that looked like a foregone conclusion two races ago is now most certainly an uncertainty as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East heads to Road Atlanta to close out the 2013 campaign and crown a champion on Oct. 18.
Moffitt has had a potential title in his sights more than once, but has been unable to seal the deal. After finishing third as a rookie in 2009 and as the championship runner-up a year later, Moffitt had his first real opportunity for a trophy in 2011. That bid ended with a cut tire while leading with four laps to go in the finale at Dover International Speedway. Then, the ultimate heartbreak came in 2012, when he wrecked half a mile short of the race and championship trophies.
Moffitt, from Grimes, Iowa, won multiple races in each of those previous four seasons and came up short of the title, which is what makes this run even more surprising. He’s in the midst of a career-long 19-race winless drought, yet finds himself just five points behind Kwasniewski heading to Road Atlanta.
Kwasniewski, meanwhile, will have to stem the tide at the northeastern Georgia road course. The Las Vegas, Nev., native led Moffitt by 40 points following the 11th race of the campaign at Greenville Pickens Speedway on Sept. 2. In the two outings since, he wrecked out at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and finished 24th, and was 29th last time out at Dover after experiencing electrical problems.
So it all comes down to Road Atlanta, which will present a new challenge for both, as the this will be the inaugural event for the K&N Pro Series East at the famed course. At first glance, Kwasniewski may appear to have an advantage on Moffitt that goes beyond the five point lead. He was dominant in the first road course race this year when he led 39 of 57 laps en route to victory at Virginia International Raceway, and has eight career road course starts to Moffitt’s four.
Moffitt finished third at VIR, however, and has better career average finish than Kwasniewski on road courses at 4.75 compared to 12.0. But Kwasniewski’s mark can be deceiving. Since posting finishes of 25th or worse in his first three career road races, he’s finished top five in the five since.
Regardless of what the numbers are going in, one thing is for sure, Moffitt needs to somehow gain six points on Kwasniewski at Road Atlanta, and it seeing it play out should be great theatre.
RACE: Road Atlanta 115
PLACE: Road Atlanta, Braselton, Ga.
DATE: Friday, Oct. 18
TIME: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV SCHEDULE: Fox Sports 2, Nov. 2, 10 a.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course
2012 POLESITTER/WINNER: Inaugural Event
EVENT SCHEDULE: Thursday – Practice 8-8:45 a.m., Final Practice 9:45-10:30 a.m., Qualifying 4 p.m.; Friday – Driver Autograph Session TBD
The Race: The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East is set to conclude the 2013 season with its inaugural event at Road Atlanta as part of the 16th Annual Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda race weekend.
The Procedure: The starting field is 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 28 laps (71.12 miles, 114.47 kilometers).
The Track: A 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course, Road Atlanta opened on Sept. 13, 1970. Road Atlanta has played host to just two previous NASCAR races in its history – the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 1986 and 1987.
ROAD ATLANTA RACE NOTES:
Series History in the Peach State: The inaugural Road Atlanta event will be the fourth race in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East history in the state of Georgia. The series previously visited Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga., once a year from 2010-12.
Series History at Road Courses: Road Atlanta will be the fourth different road course the K&N Pro Series East has visited in its 27-year history. Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., held 18 races from 1993-2010 while Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International welcomed the series 14 times from 1993-2009. Earlier this season the K&N Pro Series East held its inaugural event at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va.
Kwasniewski Chasing History: Points leader Dylan Kwasniewski is not only chasing the K&N Pro Series championship at Road Atlanta, he’s chasing history. The 2012 titlist in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Kwasniewski is looking to become the first driver to capture the crown in both the East and West. He could also become the first NASCAR touring series driver to earn back-to-back crowns in different series since Mike Stefanik concurrently won both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and K&N Pro Series East championships in 1997-98.
Sunoco Rookie Title Up for Grabs: Thanks to a late-season rally fueled by top-10 finishes in four of his last five outings, Jesse Little will take a six-point lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings into the Road Atlanta finale. In a tightly-contested battle atop the first-year driver standings throughout the season, Gray Gaulding and Kenzie Ruston have both seen time in the lead, and are tied for second entering Road Atlanta. In the point-per-position scoring system, both would have significant work ahead of them if they want to catch Little, but it is mathematically possible with a total of eight rookies on the entry list. Little’s father, Chad Little, earned the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West rookie award in 1986.
Plenty of Points Positions to Be Decided: In addition to the battle for the championship between Dylan Kwasniewski and Brett Moffitt, the majority of the top 10 final points positions are up for grabs at Road Atlanta. Just five points separate Daniel Suárez, Ben Kennedy and Eddie MacDonald from third through fifth while six tallies separate sixth through eighth with Gaulding, Ruston and Little. Brandon Gdovic and Ryan Gifford also enter Road Atlanta tied for 10th.
Ranger Looks to Crash Another Party: Noted Canadian road racer Andrew Ranger will look to make it 2-for-4 in NASCAR K&N Pro Series action this season with a victory at Road Atlanta. Ranger won the K&N Pro Series West race at Miller Motorsports Park on Sept. 14 after earning the pole and coming home 10th at Brainerd International Raceway on May 25. In his previous K&N Pro Series East appearance this year at VIR, Ranger qualified fifth but retired midway through with engine failure. He won the East’s final road course race prior to this year – in 2010 at Lime Rock – and also has a West victory at Sonoma Raceway that same season. Ranger has 14 career road course wins in his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 career.
LAST TIME OUT: Dover
The most recent NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race was held on Sept. 27 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Here are some highlights from the Drive Sober 150:
· In just his fifth series appearance, rookie Austin Hill took the checkered flag to become the seventh first-time winner in 13 races this season. Hill moved to the front on Lap 88 and never looked back.
· Justin Boston finished as the runner-up in what was just his second series appearance while Kyle Benjamin was third in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut.
· Cale Conley captured his third career Coors Light Pole Award prior to the race and finished 17th.
· Championship leader Dylan Kwasniewski – who had a mathematical shot at clinching the title at Dover – suffered electrical problems and finished next-to-last in 29th.
NEXT TIME OUT: NASCAR Night of Champions
Before the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East returns to action next spring, there is one major event on the offseason schedule. The K&N Pro Series East champion will be crowned as part of the NASCAR Night of Champions, which will include ceremonies for the seven NASCAR touring series on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.