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Aug 10, 2014 - 06:16 AM
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Turner Scott Motorsports NKNPSE Watkins Glen International Post Race Report
Posted by: newsla on Aug 10, 2014 - 06:08 AM
Tidbits
Turner Scott Motorsports NKNPSE Watkins Glen International Post Race Report


Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) entered the first road course event of the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) season at Watkins Glen International looking to capture the organization's seventh victory in the 13th race of the season. The day started strong as TSM was able to qualify all five cars in the top 10 for the start of the event. The evening ended even better for TSM as Scott Heckert led the Chevrolet charge, capturing his first-career NKNPSE victory. Ben Rhodes, Kaz Grala, Brandon Jones and Cameron Hayley were all able to finish inside the top 10, capping off another solid weekend for TSM in the NKNPSE. Heckerts win marks the second-straight week a TSM driver has visited victory lane for a career-first win. This is the third different TSM driver to win a NKNPSE race in 2014.

 

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Scott Heckert:
Heckert came into this weekend's race at Watkins Glen looking for a strong finish, as the 20-year-old had previous road course experience, bringing home top-10 finishes in both NKNPSE road course races last season. Heckert began the event in the fifth position, looking to hold strong inside the top five and pick off competitors as they came to him. When the race began, Heckert slipped back a bit, looking to preserve his equipment and not get caught up in anyone else's mess. Following the first restart on lap seven, Heckert got off track, and the No. 34 Project Lifesaver Chevrolet dropped to 15th. The Connecticut native held tough, however, and by lap 21, he was back into sixth. At the lap-27 halfway break, Heckert ran in the fifth position, and when the race resumed, the he battled with his TSM teammates throughout the top five, finally getting into the third position with six laps remaining. Heckert was running down the race leaders when a caution flew on lap 49, setting up the race for a green/white/checkered finish. On the final restart, Heckert made a daring move, which shot the No. 34 Chevrolet to the race lead, and after holding off some late advances on the final lap, he captured his first-career NKNPSE victory. The victory comes for Heckert in his 27th-career start. The win moved Heckert to ninth in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings heading into Virginia International Raceway next weekend.

Scott Heckert on winning his first-career race at Watkins Glen:
"Winning at Watkins Glen is incredible. The team put in long hours to get this car perfect and it was just that. We've had a win coming for a little bit now, and it's so perfect to get it with all of my family here, my dad made his first trip to Watkins Glen 42 years ago so it's really special to get my first win at this track. A big thank you to everyone over at Turner Scott Motorsports; it was so great to share this with the entire team."

Ben Rhodes:
Rhodes entered the weekend at Watkins Glen looking to put together a solid run in his first-career NKNPSE road course start. Rhodes got started on the right note, qualifying in the seventh position for the race. The NASCAR Next driver suffered an early setback on the race's first restart, as Rhodes spun in Turn 1, doing a complete 360 before continuing on in the 18th position. The 17-year-old went to work from there, picking off one competitor at a time. By the halfway break of the race, Rhodes was back into the top 10 and running in the sixth position. As the race resumed, Rhodes jumped into the top five and began looking for even more as the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet showed speed. With 15 laps to go, Rhodes was in third. Able to maintain and hold strong under the final restart, Rhodes brought home a third-place finish. The top-five finish marked the 10th of 2014 for Rhodes and extended his NKNPSE Driver Point Standings lead to 75 points heading into Virginia International Raceway next weekend.

Ben Rhodes on his top-five finish:
"After coming from the rear to finish third in my first road course race, I couldn't be happier. We had another solid day and extended the points lead, so I'm more excited than ever to run the final three races of the season."

Kaz Grala:
Grala came into the NKNPSE race at Watkins Glen looking to take advantage of his prior road course racing experience. The youngest full-time driver in the NKNPSE started off strong, qualifying in the sixth position for the event. As the race began, Grala showed speed early, moving up to the third position on lap nine. The 15-year-old wouldn't slip outside of the top five from this point on. As the race continued, Grala showed great poise while fighting inside the top five with some experienced road racers. At the halfway break, Grala sat in the fourth position, looking to take advantage of the upcoming restart and challenge for the lead. Grala continued to run in the top five, and on the final restart of the race, sat in the fifth position. The rookie took advantage of other competitors struggling on the final lap and brought home a fourth-place finish. The result was a career-best in the NKNPSE for Grala and marked his second top five of 2014. Grala now sits sixth in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings.

Kaz Grala on his top-five finish:
"What an amazing day at Watkins Glen International for the No. 31 OzLINK Chevy. We were quick in practice and set our fastest lap of the day in qualifying, tying our best qualifying spot of sixth for the third time. We made it to the top five right at the start and battled within it the entire race, finishing a personal best of fourth. It was an exciting race on probably my favorite track so far. I can't thank the Turner Scott Motorsports team enough for giving me such a great road course car; let's do it again next weekend at VIR."

Brandon Jones:
Jones entered this weekend's race at Watkins Glen with a ton of momentum, coming off his first-career victory at Iowa a week earlier. The 17-year-old used the momentum to his advantage as he made his first-career NKNPSE start on a road course. Jones qualified for the race in the ninth position and quickly showed that his Chevrolet was fast. Jones ran in-and-around the top 10 in the early portion of the event and looked poised to begin the second half of the race in the top 10. However the Georgia native suffered a flat left-front tire just before the halfway break. The incident moved Jones to 16th prior to the start of the second half of the race. Jones was able to avoid on-track drama from that point on, picking off one competitor after another. With five laps to go, Jones was back in the top 10 and looking for even more. Jones gained a few positions on the race's final restart and ultimately brought home a sixth-place finish. The top 10 was the ninth of the season for Jones, who remains third in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings.

Brandon Jones on his top-10 finish:
"Overall, it was another solid finish for this No. 33 Wolfpack Energy Services team. I'm pretty new to this road course racing deal, but to have the car I did and the team behind me, I knew we'd have a solid run. Before our tire went down, I thought we had one of the fastest cars on the racetrack and we were able to run right behind my teammate Scott [Heckert], who ended up winning the race. It's hard to be upset when you run in the top 10 and with this finish, I'm looking forward to getting to VIR next weekend and hopefully running even better."

Cameron Hayley:
Hayley entered this weekend's race at Watkins Glen with a lot of confidence about the No. 98 team's chances to capture the victory. Hayley utilized some of his previous experience on road courses and qualified for the race in the third position. The 18-year-old quickly showed the No. 98 Chevrolet's speed and the talent behind the wheel as he moved into the second position, looking to challenge for the lead. On lap 18, Hayley moved past the race leader and looked to put distance between himself and the others on track before heading into the halfway break. The lead Hayley held suffered, however, as a flat left-front tire forced him to bring the No. 98 Cabinets by Hayley Chevrolet down pit road to the attention of his crew. The incident moved Hayley a lap down to the leaders, something the young driver spent the majority of the second half of the race fighting to get back. A caution on lap 46 would prove to be the break Hayley needed, as he received the lucky dog, moving the No. 98 back onto the lead lap. Hayley showed his car still had speed, picking up quite a few positions in the final laps before bringing home an eighth-place finish. The top 10 was the seventh of 2014 for Hayley and keeps him second in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings heading into Virginia International Raceway.

Cameron Hayley on the top 10 at Watkins Glen:
"Well, that wasn't exactly the finish we had in mind when we got to Watkins Glen, but nonetheless I'm glad we were able to recover. It appears quite a few drivers were having issues with their tires and, unfortunately, we happened to be one of them. While we didn't get a win, I feel really good about our chances heading into VIR next weekend to get this No. 98 Cabinets by Hayley Chevrolet to victory lane."

The NKNPSE heads to Virginia International Raceway next weekend for the 14th race of the 2014 season.


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