SOUTH BOSTON, Va. — After a “motivating” second-place finish in Saturday’s first WhosYourDriver.org Twin 100 at South Boston Speedway, Mississippi young gun Chase Purdy appeared poised for victory in the second leg of the night.
Instead, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East rookie was left wondering what might have been, after a mistake on the final restart saw a chance at the win slip through his fingertips.
After launching “10 car lengths early,” according to Toyota stablemate and mentor Todd Gilliland, Purdy was black-flagged for jumping the race’s final restart with three laps to go and penalized to the tail end of the lead lap as a result.
Though he crossed the start-finish line first, Purdy was not shown the checkered flag, relegated to 11th in the final rundown after being the “fastest car all day” at the four-tenths-mile Virginia oval.
After climbing from his No. 17 Bama Buggies/Textron Off-Road Toyota, Purdy admitted that he was the one at fault for the miscue, not anyone or anything else.
“I just jumped the restart, plain and simple,” Purdy told Race Chaser Online. “I went way, way too early.”
“I have to learn from tonight, because everything (that happened at the end) was on me. Everything was in our favor, except for what the driver did. That’s all driver error. I hate it for my guys. They worked so hard today and we had the fastest car here. It’s something to learn from, like I said, and definitely something I won’t do again.”
The 17-year-old qualified second for both Twin 100s and led a combined 116 of 200 laps, but left with “nothing” to show for his dominating efforts, despite jumping from sixth to fourth in points.
“I hate to go out like we did; I really do,” Purdy lamented. “We were so strong and led most of that race. It’s heartbreaking … and a little embarrassing how bad I jumped that start, but you learn from your mistakes and I guess I’ll learn from this one. Right now, I’m mad at myself for it, but we’ll be back and we’ll be better.”
Purdy did say that he enjoyed the late-race battle with Gilliland, but wished that one of them could have ended the night in victory lane.
“It was fun, but I feel like you’ve got to be a little extra careful … because when you’re racing a teammate, you don’t want to go into the shop on Monday morning and have it be this awkward silence where everybody’s mad at each other.”
“I enjoyed it though; it’s always a good time racing with Todd and I’m sure we’ll have more good battles later this season. I just wish we could have put the (Nos.) 16 or 17 in victory lane.”
Gilliland, who was leading coming to green on the final restart, harbored no ill will towards Purdy for the way the sequence played out, but was still visibly disappointed after being passed for the win by Harrison Burton.
“I’m not upset. It was all hard racing right there,” Gilliland said. “It’s a green-white-checkered finish, basically, and you’ve got to get all you can get on the restarts. He just went really early, and I feel like it gave the 12 (Burton) a little bit better jump than he should have had.”
“We’re going to move on from here; I’m going to learn from it … the 17’s going to learn from it; everyone will be better for having been through this and we’ll get on top soon.”
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: [email protected]
Email Race Chaser Online: [email protected]
Follow RCO on Twitter: @RaceChaserNews