AVONDALE, Ariz. — By Tom Bryant, NASCAR — Getty Images for NASCAR photo —
Facing off with some of the best young talent in NASCAR, Greg Pursley out-ran them all.
The 46-year-old from Newhall, California, driver finished ninth in Thursday night’s Casino Arizona 100 at Phoenix International Raceway, to put the finishing touches on his second NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship. In the media center after the race, Pursley said that’s it for him.
“As of right now, I guess I’m retired,” said Pursley, who now lives in Parker, Arizona. “I’m very happy to go out as the champion on top.”
Rookie Nick Drake, 18, won the race from the pole and held off a pair of 16-year-olds, Gray Gaulding and Cole Custer. A green-white-checkered finish extended the race to 103 laps. Jesse Little and Dylan Lupton rounded out the top five.
It was Drake’s first NASCAR K&N Pro Series victory in his 18th career start. He finished 10th in the championship standings in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this season.
Gaulding, Custer, Little and Drake are all part of the NASCAR Next program, an industry initiative designed to spotlight the sport’s rising stars.
“It’s been a lot of fun racing these kids,” Pursley said. “The more seat time they get, the better they get. I’ve tried my best to help them out, I’ve gave them advice, they’ve come to me. I’m going to miss all of them, too. To be able to race these kids and race them side-by-side, especially for the championship, that’s a pretty good deal to have.
“The K&N Series is pretty strong right now, both in the East and the West. Like I said, there’s a lot of young kids out there right now, a lot of young talent that’s coming up, that you’re going to see a lot of great racing here in the future.”
But Thursday night — and the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season — belonged to the series veteran, who has put together an incredible four-year run.
Pursley has collected 17 wins in 58 races in the span, winning two championships and finishing second (2012) and third (2013) in the other two years.
He also won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship title in 2004 driving in the Late Model Division at California’s Irwindale Speedway.
Pursley’s 2014 season included two wins, 12 top fives and 13 top 10s in 14 races. He took over the points lead following the season’s second race and never relinquinshed it. He also gave car owner Gene Price wins third championship in four years. In addition to Pursley’s two titles, Price won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West title with Dylan Kwasniewski in 2012.
David Mayhew finished sixth in the Casino Arizona 100, followed by DJ Kennington, John Borneman III, Pursley and Jamie Krzysik.
The Casino Arizona 100 will air on FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, Nov. 16 at 10 a.m.
Pursley will be honored for his championship season along with NASCAR’s other touring series champions on Saturday, Dec. 13 at the NASCAR Touring Series Awards in the Grand Ballroom of the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.