CHARLOTTE, N.C. — staff report — KCP/Charlie Alexander photo —
Just two weeks after a destructive fire ripped through the Bassett Racing shop in Winston Salem, N.C., and put brothers Dillon and Ronnie Bassett Jr.’s seasons in doubt, the latter has secured a ride for the remainder of the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East campaign.
Bassett will pilot the No. 43 Diamondback Towing Ford Fusion for Calabrese Motorsports, owned and operated by fellow K&N East competitor David Calabrese. The opportunity for the remainder of the season comes as an extension of the pair’s debut together in the ComServe Wireless 150 at Dominion Raceway on May 30.
“A couple of weeks ago, I didn’t think that a situation like this would be possible,” Bassett said to Race Chaser Online when reached by phone on Wednesday. “We didn’t know what was going to go on after the fire, and luckily David allowed me to jump into his car and keep this run going. It’s pretty neat … right now we still have to, kind of, take it one race at a time, but a good things has come out of a tough circumstance.”
At Dominion, Bassett qualified fifth but was relegated to a disappointing 19th place finish after battling handling issues and late-race involvement in an incident with brother Dillon and then-leader Kyle Benjamin.
“We had a great run the first half of the race and just got tight later on. I do feel, though, that we showed the strength of the car and we can get some wins in the second part of the year. They’ve got really solid race cars, and I think we can go out and do some big things in these summer races. We always go to the race track to win and their cars are certainly capable of that.”
“We can contend for a championship. This isn’t over just yet.”
Six races into the season, Ronnie Bassett finds himself tied with Tyler Dippel for sixth in the championship standings, less than one race (41 points, to be exact) behind points leader Justin Haley with eight races remaining. Bassett has been as high as third in points through the season’s first half.
However, he said what stuck out to him the most was the outpouring of backing from the rest of the racing community.
“For sure, this feels really good right now. We’ve had tons of calls, text messages and support from everyone and it’s crazy. You race with these people every time you’re at the race track, and for someone like David to allow us to race one of his cars is pretty neat, and a gratifying feeling for me.”
“This has all shown us as a family that there’s still people out there willing to help. (David) was planning to go to Dominion and race himself, and to step out of the seat – as a racer I know how hard that is – and to do that and allow me to continue to race for a championship is something special that’s sticking with me through all this. It’s just a really neat deal.”
Calabrese, who had wheeled his family-owned machine in two K&N Pro Series East events this season, will step from the cockpit while Bassett is at the controls – allowing him to spectate and further develop his operation from a team owner’s perspective.
For the now-team owner, 2016 was to be his first full-time season in the K&N Pro Series. Previously, the 22-year-old, Toms River, N.J. native had competed in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, where he scored four top five finishes.
Now though, Bassett and Calabrese have their attention turned to the Stafford 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway (the first K&N East event at the Connecticut track since 2008). The event will be race seven of the season.
At this time, Ronnie’s brother, Dillon Bassett, has not officially confirmed plans for the Stafford event. He did race at Dominion with Precision Performance Motorsports, finishing 22nd after the late-race accident with Benjamin.
Listen to an excerpt of Race Chaser Online’s interview with Ronnie Bassett by clicking on the player below:
About the Writer
Marshall Gabell is the Mid-Atlantic Correspondent for Race Chaser Online, and was also formerly the public relations director for NASCAR Next member Austin Hill. Gabell is currently attending Stephen Decatur High School in Ocean City, Maryland, completing his sophomore year. He is just 15 years old.
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