BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – By Shon Sbarra, NASCAR — Jason O. Watson/Getty Images for NASCAR photo — Jesse Little headed west this weekend and topped the speed chart in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West final practice on Saturday for the Armed Forces 150 at Kern County Raceway Park.
The NASCAR Next driver out of Sherrills Ford, N.C., is a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East regular, but is scheduled to make three K&N West starts this season. Little clicked off a 18.148-second lap for an average speed of 99.184 mph on the half-mile track.
Giles Thornton was second-fastest in the final 45-minute session with a time of 18.184 seconds (98.988 mph) followed by David Mayhew in third at 18.270 seconds (98.522 mph). NASCAR Next’s Brandon McReynolds at 18.272 seconds (98.511 mph) and points leader Greg Pursley at 18.351 mph (98.087 mph) were fourth and fifth, respectively.
NASCAR Next driver Dylan Lupton, James Bickford, Luis Tyrrell, Jamie Krzysik and Anthony Giannone rounded out the top 10 in final practice.
Little made his series debut in November 2013 at Phoenix International Raceway with a runner-up finish to fellow NASCAR Next driver Gray Gaulding.
Mayhew has earned wins in each of his last two series starts to move into second place in the championship standings after fuel pump problems doused his performance in the season opener at Phoenix.
Pursley led the first practice session of the day followed by Lupton and Mayhew.
NASCAR Next spotlights the sport’s emerging young stars following in the footsteps of Kyle Larson, Dylan Kwasniewski and Darrell Wallace Jr., who are alumni of the program.
This is the series’ second visit to the year-old Southern California facility. Pursley won the inaugural race in October 2013.
Qualifying for the Armed Forces 150 is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. PT with the race set to go green at approximately 7:35 p.m.