•Rookie Gets Career-Best Mark In K&N Pro Series East-West Combo Race
NEWTON, Iowa (May 18, 2014) – Nick Drake drove his No. 15 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota to a career-best second-place finish in the Casey’s General Store 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway on Saturday.
The 18-year-old series rookie from Mooresville, N.C., – making his first start on the .875-mile high-banked oval in Newton, Iowa – charged from 11th on the grid and worked his way through the field to take the runner-up spot behind race winner Ben Rhodes.
“Once we got to second, I think we were just as good as him,” said Drake, whose previous best series finish came last month at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, where he was third. “We just never got a caution to get the chance to get around him. Starting that far back and starting on the front row, that’s what the race came down to. We used our stuff up to catch the leaders. We needed a caution there at the end to get caught up.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction, with a third at Richmond and then coming here and running second,” Drake added.
His runner-up finish was tops among four Bill McAnally Racing drivers at Iowa.
Cole Custer, who had his No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS/HAAS Automation entry atop the speed charts during practice earlier in the day, got tangled up in an incident while battling for second just past the midway point of the race. He rebounded to finish 13th.
Custer, 16, of Ladera Ranch, Calif., was hoping to become the first driver with a repeat win in the 10 East-West combo races at Iowa. He dominated the competition there last year, leading wire-to-wire in winning the combination race last August. He is racing in select events in the East and West divisions of the K&N Pro Series this year.
Patrick Staropoli, driving the No. 99 PEAK Toyota, was credited with a Coors Light Pole Award as the top qualifying K&N West entry on Saturday. After dropping to the back of the field for the start of the race, due to unapproved adjustments, he made his way up to 11th. A late-race incident, however, left him to finish 15th.
Staropoli, a 24-year-old from Plantation, Fla., is also racing a limited schedule this year.
Brandon McReynolds, who had qualified 18th at Iowa in the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota, had his race come to an end early after he blew a right front tire and hit the wall just before midway in the event.
Drake remains second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points and has moved to fifth in the overall K&N East championship standings. He has one pole and three top fives in six career K&N East starts this season.
McReynolds, meanwhile, slipped to fifth in championship standings in the K&N West. The 22-year-old from Mooresville, N.C., has one pole, two top fives and three top 10s in four series races this year.
The Casey’s General Store 150 will be televised on FOX Sports 1 on May 24 at 8:30 a.m. ET. The event marked the sixth race this season for the K&N East and the fourth race of the year for the K&N West.
In addition to the action on the track at Iowa, the BMR drivers were also busy with activities in the area. They met with fans and signed autographs at a NAPA event in Des Moines on Thursday and on Friday evening, they participated in a NAPA event at a go-kart track in Grimes.
McReynolds and Custer also made appearances in Iowa with the NASCAR Next program. The first event was at Aurora Heights Elementary School in Newton on Thursday. On Friday, they met with fans and signed autographs at Casey’s General Store in Altoona.
The next event on the K&N West schedule is the Armed Forces 150 at Kern County Raceway Park near Bakersfield, Calif., on Saturday, May 24.
The next event on the K&N East schedule is the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., on May 31.