December 2, 2013 – 17 year old Ronnie Bassett Jr. mounted a late race charge in the NWAAS Thanksgiving All Star Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park on Sunday December 1st to take his No. 04 Rheem / Rex Younger Galleries Bassett Racing Ford to victory lane, scoring a $12,000 payout and claiming his sixth victory in his sixth start at the Lucama, North Carolina racetrack.
With 44 drivers on hand vying for 32 starting positions, only the top ten from qualifying transferred directly into Sunday’s feature. After strong runs in multiple practice sessions, Ronnie Bassett Jr. toured the track in qualifying with a time of 15.209, awarding him the seventh starting position. “With $3,000 on the line for the pole, we put more effort into our qualifying run than normal,” Bassett stated. “We came up short, but stayed inside the top ten and are fortunate to sit out the heat races.”
Once the remainder of the field had been set for the Thanksgiving All Star Classic 200 lap feature, the green flag dropped just after 4:30 PM in front of a great crowd. The first of seven caution periods fell on lap 36, and following the restart Ronnie Bassett Jr. moved into the top five. When the halfway break came at lap 100, Bassett sat fourth reporting a great racecar.
During the break teams were allowed to refuel and make basic adjustments, including rotating tires but no tire changes. The No. 04 Bassett Racing team made air pressure adjustments and added rear brake to their machine before sending Ronnie Bassett Jr. back on track.
Following the restart Bassett faded back a few positions in an effort to conserve his equipment. Inside 25 laps to go Ronnie Bassett Jr. moved around Matt McCall for fourth, then surpassed Justin Snow and Deac McCaskill to take second. With less than 20 laps remaining Bassett began to rundown race leader and two time defending NWAAS National Champion Lee Pulliam, running a consistent two-tenths faster per lap.
The final caution displayed with 16 laps to go as a lapped car interfered with race leaders, going for a spin off the nose of Ronnie Bassett Jr’s machine. The field restarted with eight circuits remaining, and Bassett chose the inside line behind Lee Pulliam on the cone restart.
With five laps to go Ronnie Bassett Jr. was in Pulliam’s tire tracks, looking low to make the pass. With two laps remaining Bassett completed the pass on Lee Pulliam for the race lead and took the checkered flag for his fifth time this season, ending 2013 where he started – in SNMP victory lane.
“This is pretty cool, a great win for everyone at Bassett Racing,” Ronnie Bassett Jr. commented. “These guys have worked hard all season long, and I’m glad we ended it in victory lane. I have to thank Seth Smith for stepping in this weekend for Chris Lawson who was away for Thanksgiving. All these guys deserve this win, they never give up. We’ve had a lot of misfortune during the big races the last two seasons, so this one means a lot.”
“Hats off to Performance Center, Charlie and Robert Long, Roush Yates Performance Parts, Wes Page Shocks, Kerry Lawrence Exhaust, G Force South, Pigwire, AR Bodies, Draco, and Hank Thomas Performance for making this package work. Also to Rheem, Rex Younger Art Galleries, and Butler Trailer for their support this season. We couldn’t do it without any one of these pieces and I’m looking forward to 2014,” Bassett continued.
Ronnie Bassett Jr. ends his 2013 season with one of his biggest career late model stock car victories, and remains undefeated at Southern National Motorsports Park where he has five NWAAS wins and one UARA-STARS victory. The Bassett Racing team plans to move into the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division full time in 2014 with Bassett Jr.