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Turner Scott Motorsports NKNPSE Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 Post Race Report
Posted by: newsla on Mar 24, 2014 - 06:21 AM
Turner Scott Motorsports NKNPSE Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 Post Race Report

Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) went into the fourth race of the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) season looking to build on their early-season momentum. They did just that as Ben Rhodes carried the torch for TSM, winning not only the 21 Means 21 pole award, but also capturing the victory in the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. The win was the first for TSM in the NKNPSE in 2014 and marked the first-career NKNPSE victory for Ben Rhodes. Cameron Hayley and Kaz Grala proved to also be contenders in the event as they led laps late in the race and brought home top-10 finishes. TSM was out front for the entirety of the race leading all 150-laps between Ben Rhodes, Cameron Hayley and Kaz Grala. Scott Heckert and Brandon Jones both suffered from issues in the late stages of the race, which hampered their finishes.


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Ben Rhodes:
Ben Rhodes began the race weekend by capturing the 21 Means 21 pole award for the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. It was the third pole award in a row for Rhodes in 2014 and third overall in his career. Rhodes began the race by pulling out to an early lead and was able to fend off the advances from other competitors, including his TSM teammates, during the opening 75 laps of the 150-lap event. Rhodes went on to lead the first 80 laps of the race and led 106 total laps en route to victory. The Rookie of the Year (ROTY) contender spent the entirety of the race inside the top three and had one of the fastest cars throughout the day at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. When the break came on lap 76 in the race, the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions team made chassis adjustments as well as a four-tire change to help give Rhodes more forward drive. These changes benefited the ROTY contender in the final stages of the event, as he was able to work his way from third back to the race lead and hold on for the event's final 26 circuits. The victory moved Rhodes into the lead in the NKNPSE Driver Points Standings following the fourth race of the season. It also marked Rhodes' third top-10 finish in four races this season.

Ben Rhodes on his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Win:
"There's nothing better than winning and to get to do it for the first time with Turner Scott Motorsports is awesome. I am just very fortunate to have a great team behind me. From my crew chief Mark McFarland to my TSM crew guys, to the guys back at the shop that work hard building these cars, I am surrounded by some great people that make this all possible. I have to thank Steve Turner and Harry Scott for putting such a great team together. Also, a big thanks to my sponsors Alpha Energy Solutions, Alliance Comfort Systems, Kentucky National Guard, Park Community Credit Union and Refrigerant Rescue. Without their support of my racing, I would not be here in victory lane."

Cameron Hayley:
Cameron Hayley came into Greenville-Pickens Speedway looking to rebound from Bristol a week earlier, where he suffered some damage that relegated him to a 17th-place finish. Hayley qualified for the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 in the second position, starting on the outside of his TSM teammate Ben Rhodes. Hayley dropped a couple positions at the start of the race after starting in the outside lane, but by lap 25 he worked his way back up to the third position and was looking to challenge Rhodes for the race lead. By lap 30 in the race, Hayley had dropped to the sixth position and was looking to fall in line and save his tires for the later portions of the race. The NASCAR Next driver came out of the break on lap 76 in the third position. The No. 98 Cabinets by Hayley team made an air-pressure adjustment on pit road looking to get Hayley to the lead. The changes hit the mark, as Hayley gained the race lead on lap 81 for the first time in the event. Hayley led for three circuits until relinquishing the lead to TSM teammate Kaz Grala. Hayley worked his way back into the race lead on lap 100 and looked poised to capture his first NKNPSE victory. The 17-year-old continued to lead until lap 125 when eventual race winner Ben Rhodes returned to the top spot. Some late-race cautions forced Hayley to fall as far back as fifth in the running order, but the NASCAR Next driver was able to work his way back up to finish in the third position. Hayley comes out of Greenville-Pickens Speedway sitting fourth in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings as the series heads to Richmond next month.

Cameron Hayley on Greenville-Pickens Speedway:
"It's always tough to settle for a third-place finish when you are in the position to win late in the race, but I want to congratulate my teammate Ben on his victory. Overall, we had a very solid points day for the No. 98 Cabinets by Hayley team. I look forward to heading to Richmond next month and getting a win with this Turner Scott Motorsports team."

Kaz Grala:
Kaz Grala came into Greenville-Pickens Speedway ready to make his first start in the NKNPSE at the racetrack. Qualifying was an early high note for the No. 31 OzLINK Chevrolet as the team began the race in the sixth position, their best qualifying effort of the season. The ROTY contender wasted little time moving towards the front as he worked his way into the top five by lap 10. Grala showed that his No. 31 was fast, as the ROTY contender moved into the second position by lap 20. Grala settled into the second position for the next few laps until a move for the lead proved costly and pushed the 15-year-old to fifth on lap 45. Grala rode in the fifth position looking to move back towards the front until the break at lap 76. When the caution flew for the break, Grala quickly let his No. 31 team know that he wasn't looking to become too tight in the corners while they were contemplating changes under caution. When the race resumed, Grala showed that the changes made worked, and by lap 85 the ROTY contender took the race lead for the first time in his NKNPSE career. Grala went on to lead 15 laps before surrendering the lead to TSM teammate Cameron Hayley. As the laps wound down, Grala continued to run in the top five, and remained there until lap 140 when the 15-year-old got shuffled out of the groove, pushing him back to the sixth position. Grala held on to finish the race in the seventh position, a career best finish in the NKNPSE. Grala sits seventh in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings following his third top-10 finish of the season.

Kaz Grala on Greenville-Pickens Speedway:
"We had a fantastic race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway finishing seventh, our best finish so far in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. We were even able to lead some laps in the second half of the race to score a bonus point towards the Driver Point Standings. The No. 31 OzLINK Chevy was very good from start to finish, and I cannot wait to get to Richmond International Raceway next month."

Scott Heckert:
Scott Heckert came into Greenville-Pickens Speedway looking to rebound after he was caught up in an accident at Bristol Motor Speedway. Heckert qualified inside the top 10 for the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 and looked poised to put together a solid run in the event. When the race began, Heckert rode around holding steady inside the top 15. On lap 20, Heckert was running in the 12th position and holding strong. Heckert started falling back through the pack somewhat, and when the first caution flew he was in the 14th position. By the break in the race on lap 76, Heckert had fallen to the 22nd position. Heckert and his No. 34 TSM team looked to take advantage of the break and make some changes to move back towards the front. After the race resumed, Heckert worked his way back into the top 20 by lap 100 and looked to gain more positions throughout the final 50 laps. By lap 120, Heckert was back in the 17th position and began challenging for the top 15. This run was halted on lap 134 when Heckert was involved in an incident on the backstretch. The No. 34 was able to continue on, but it suffered serious damage. Heckert was able to nurse the No. 34 Chevrolet home to finish in the 17th position. Heckert now sits 20th in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings.

Scott Heckert on Greenville-Pickens Speedway:
"We struggled with the car in the first half of the race, and lost quite a few positions early on. At the break we really improved the car, and we were able to work our way back up through the field. In the end, we just got caught up in one of those short-track wrecks where everyone stacks up. I hate it for the No. 34 Turner Scott Motorsports team, but we will keep working hard and go get them at Richmond next month."

Brandon Jones:
Brandon Jones entered Greenville-Pickens Speedway coming off his second top-10 finish of 2014 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The 17-year-old began the event in the 18th position following qualifying for the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150. Jones looked to use his previous experience at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in 2012 to help him maneuver through traffic. By lap 45, Jones had worked his way into the top 15 and looked as though he had a car capable of finishing inside the top 10. By lap 60, Jones was up to 13th and looked to be in a great position heading into the break at lap 76, until a late caution in the early portion of the race flew at lap 62. When the race resumed on lap 67, Jones lost a few positions after getting shuffled out of line, dropping the No. 33 to 16th. When the break began at lap 76, the No. 33 Wolfpack Energy Services team went to work putting four fresh tires on Jones' machine and making adjustments to his car. The race resumed on lap 78 as Jones restarted in the 16th position, looking to move back up into the top 15. By lap 100, however, Jones would drop to the 22nd position as the 17-year-old felt something wrong with the racecar. The caution flew on lap 111, and the crew brought Jones down pit road looking to fix the issue with the No. 33 Wolfpack Energy Services Chevrolet. When the race resumed on lap 114, the issue proved to be persistent as the No. 33 lost a lap to the race leaders. A caution on lap 133 allowed Jones to gain the free pass and get back on the lead lap. As the race went back to green on lap 137, Jones looked to make his way back through the field, but would suffer from a flat tire on lap 138 halting his advances. Jones was forced to settle for a 23rd-place finish at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. The finish moves Jones to 11th in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings as the series heads to Richmond International Raceway next month.

Brandon Jones on Greenville-Pickens Speedway:
"We felt really good heading into Greenville-Pickens Speedway for this weekend's race. The No. 33 Wolfpack Energy Services Chevrolet was able to move up early in the race, however we had a flat tire in the later portions that ruined our finish. My entire Turner Scott Motorsports team worked so hard this weekend, and I'm looking forward to getting to Richmond next month and putting together a solid finish."

The NKNPSE has some time off before heading to the fifth race of the 2014 season on April 25 at Richmond International Raceway.

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