SMITHTON, Pa. — Audio, photo and recap by Race Chaser Online Associate Editor Kyle Magda —
A hole in one, perhaps?
Dillon Bassett sunk the competition in Saturday night’s inaugural K&N East race at Motordrome Speedway, despite having the asphalt come up at the half-mile facility. Two red flags during the 150-lap race wasn’t enough to slow the 18-year-old driver to get around Austin Hill with 25 laps to go to score his first-career series win.
“After that red flag when we went back green, we spun the tires a little bit and didn’t have quite enough heat in the front tires, so we washed up a little bit,” Bassett said. “The 22 got on the inside of us and made it three-wide, but, 20 to go, you can’t really back out, so we went for it and worked for us.”
Hill and Bassett ran side-by-side for three laps after the race’s final restart on lap 121 before the No. 44 car was out front for good. Pole-sitter William Byron led 92 of the first 93 laps when the tires on the No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet began to fade and fell into the clutches of Bassett.
“The plan was to ride behind the 9 car for more laps than we did, but he was already slipping and sliding,” Bassett said. “We just better to just roll on by him instead of trying to stay behind him because sometimes trying to stay behind somebody can abuse your stuff more so than just get in front of him, so that’s we decided to do and it worked out of us.”
His 3.357 second victory over second-place Rico Abreu seemed more than exciting to watch. Abreu hung around the back of the pack to conserve his tires for most of the night before making a bull-rush to the front and settling in the second spot. He entered the top-five with 15 laps to go and seven laps later, Abreu made it to second until the checkered flag flew.
“We had to slow the pace down a ton, about three seconds, so stayed there until about lap 110 and then cut me loose and I charged back up to the front,” Abreu said. “Did a lot of caution laps, which hurt us here at the end of this race. I feel like maybe we had another caution or had something for them at the end.”
With the good result, Abreu moves into fifth in points, unofficially to put four of the five HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks cars inside the top-five in the championship standings.
The driver putting an end to the HScott points party is New Smyrna winner Austin Hill. The Georgia driver scored his first top-five finish since Loudon with a third-place run. Hill led three laps on the night after engaging in a great battle with race winner Dillon Bassett until losing time to the 44 and being passed by the No. 98 of Abreu within the final 10 laps to score a podium finish.
“We were just trying to save our tires,” Hill said. “We knew this track was going to be pretty rough on tires, so we were trying to save all we could, but I felt like we saved enough. On that restart, the 44 slid up the track a little bit and I knew that was my opportunity to get by him, so I got a good run off of [Turn] two and got beside of him, almost had him cleared.”
“I could’ve roughed him up and doored him a little bit if I wanted to, but I was wanting to race clean. He just got a good run off of [turn] Four and off of [turn] two and was able to get back by me. Once he got back by me, we just started going into like a four-wheel slide. The car was just so free, rolling into the center of the corner. I had to basically stop the car to keep it up under me.”
Hill now sits 28 markers behind points leader William Byron, who finished eighth on the night. Second-place points man Scott Heckert grows ever closer to the points lead with a fourth-place result and chopped Byron’s lead down to 12. Byron got the two bonus points for leading the most laps at 92.
HScott Motorsports had an up-and-down night, with Byron and Dalton Sargeant combining to lead the race’s first 93 laps before falling back to finish eighth and 11th, respectively. Sargeant ran a late model race in May at Motordrome Speedway to gain more track time for the UPMC Health Plan 150 and won the 30-lap feature. After post-race tech, the No. 5 Wauters Motorsports car had illegal engine parts and the victory was taken away from the 17-year-old driver.
Nevertheless, Sargeant ran behind Byron for a number of laps early on before falling through the pack to finish right outside the top-10 in 11th.
The action on Saturday night was also in the track, literally, when the asphalt came up on the front stretch to force NASCAR officials to red-flag the race to fix up the patch. After work was done, the race went back under a yellow condition until more problems occurred with the patch to bring back out the red flag for nearly an hour, while NASCAR and track officials tried everything they could to get the track in a race-able condition. Chatter over the radio said that the race could end after the second red-flag, but the Western Pennsylvania fans got to see all 150 laps of K&N East action at Motordrome Speedway.
It was the second hole of the weekend, as the aging track saw another hole in Turn 4 Friday evening after the K&N East test concluded. On Saturday, Many drivers gave the thumbs up after the second red flag in the UPMC Health Plan 150 and the final 30 laps were run.
“You can tell that they patched it in a hurry, but it made it the last 30 laps,” Bassett said. “That’s all that matters.”
TV coverage from Saturday’s night UPMC Health Plan 150 at Motordome Speedway can be seen on Thursday, August 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
The NASCAR K&N East Series heads next to Virginia International Raceway for the second and final road-course race of the season. Scott Heckert is the defending winner of the race.
Audio with race winner Dillon Bassett:
Audio with runner-up Rico Abreu:
Audio with third-place finisher Austin Hill:
RESULTS: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East; UPMC Health Plan 150; Motordrome Speedway; August 15, 2015
- Dillon Bassett
- Rico Abreu
- Austin Hill
- Scott Heckert
- J.J. Haley
- Kenzie Ruston
- Kaz Grala
- William Byron
- Codie Rohrbaugh
- Sergio Pena
- Dalton Sargeant
- J.P. Morgan
- Devon Amos
- Nick Drake
- Tyler Hughes
- Kyle Benjamin
- Collin Cabre
- Christian Celaya
- Ronnie Bassett Jr.
- Dylan Hoffman
- David Garbo Jr.