• Hard Charge By BMR Teammate, Starolopi, Cut Short
DOVER, Del. (Oct. 3, 2015) – Nick Drake capped off his season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with a top-five finish in the Drive Sober 125 at Dover (Delaware) International Raceway on Saturday.
The 19-year-old from Mooresville, North Carolina came away from the track known as the Monster Mile with a fifth-place finish in the Bill McAnally Racing No. 15 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota.
The event – which wrapped up a 14-race series schedule – had been scheduled for Friday, but was pushed back to Saturday morning because of torrential rain along the East Coast. Practice and qualifying were cancelled because of the inclement weather, and the race went green without any time on track.
Drake’s BMR teammate for the weekend – Patrick Staropoli in the No. 99 AutoNation Cure Bowl Toyota – seemed destined for a top finish as well, before being sidelined by mechanical trouble.
Because qualifying was cancelled, the cars were lined up on the grid according to the NASCAR rule book – which put Drake eighth and Staropoli 24th. Drake made a quick charge forward and was in the top five by Lap 10, with Staropoli on the move from further back.
Staropoli made a hard charge through the field and cracked the top 10 by Lap 40. He continued toward the front and was up to seventh by Lap 70, trailing behind Drake. His day ended early, however, with a mechanical issue about nine laps later – leaving the 25-year-old Plantation, Florida driver to finish 24th.
Drake got as high as third, before slipping back to sixth in tough competition at the front of the field. He battled back to take fifth.
“To have a good solid finish in the NAPA Toyota was a good way to end the year,” said Drake, who was wrapping up his second season in the series.
Racing on a green race track, meanwhile, left drivers and crews trying to anticipate what would happen, he said.
“It was kind of a guessing game, as to what was going to happen the first few laps,” Drake said. “Who would have the confidence to go? There were some drivers ahead of us and behind us who had never ran any laps here.
“Everyone was a little timid until things got sorted out,” he said. “But it went fairly smooth. There weren’t too many cautions. It all worked out pretty good.”
Despite the lack of track time, it turned out to be a very competitive race, Drake said.
“There were guys going forward and some going back,” he said. “It was pretty racy. Everyone had what they had off the trailer. It was kind of a guessing game what you were going to get. We had two pit stops to do any changes, but you’re not going to do a whole lot at that point.”
Drake finished the season eighth in the championship standings, with two top-five and seven top-10 finishes.
The race was won by Collin Cabre, while William Byron clinched the series championship.
Staropoli’s entry carried sponsorship by the AutoNation Cure Bowl, a new NCAA College Football Bowl Game held in Orlando, Florida on Dec. 19, 2015. The AutoNation Cure Bowl is the first bowl game of its kind, raising both money and awareness for breast cancer research. AutoNation, the game’s title sponsor, has pledged $1M to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation over and above their title sponsorship of the bowl game.
The Drive Sober 125 was broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network, “The Voice of NASCAR.” The race will also be televised on NBCSN on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. ET.