It's been several weeks since the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East teams have been in action. So to prepare for tomorrow's East Series event at Gresham Motorsports Park (GA), let's look back at the tour's last event - held at Lee USA Speedway (NH) so we can get back up to speed on how we last left the series…
In This Corner - Truex vs. Shaw
We already heard about the bad blood between Ryan Truex and Darrell Wallace, Jr. after the Lee race, but that wasn't the only incident that defending East Series champion Truex was involved in during the night.
Homestate hero D.J. Shaw was running second in the middle stages of the event, much to the delight of the New Hampshire crowd, with Truex in tow. Coming off turn two, Shaw was on the heels of leader Eddie MacDonald when Truex got into the back of Shaw's #60 machine. Shaw went around and his night just wasn't the same. He ended up with a disappointing finish of 12th.
“I was just going easy and I guess he just wasn't patient,” said Shaw. “We were all right on top of each other and Eddie kind of checked up. But I was right on Eddie and I had plenty of time to not hit him. I guess (Truex) just can't afford to take his leg out of it. There's a lot of pressure on him with a team like that to win. So it's pretty tough to lift when you are in an opportunity like that. I think that he probably should have, but he didn't.
“I never had run-ins with him before and I thought that he was fairly clean. I still think he is fairly clean and it was a mistake, but that doesn't fix my night. It ruined my day and sucks for a hard-working team that came me the best or second best car out there. I think that he may have had the one car better than mine, but I don't know if I would have been very easy to pass either if I had gotten by Eddie before he did.”
Truex was remorseful for the incident.
“You know, I came over the radio like that and apologized for it,” said Truex. “I hated to spin him when he was having such a good run.
“The #71 [MacDonald] was kind of checking up in the corners. He was really backing up in the corners. I think the he checked up and then the #60 [Shaw] checked up and I was right on his tail. I tried to get on the brakes, but I just barely clipped him in the wrong spot at the wrong time. I hate it for those guys, but it wasn't intentional.”
And in This Corner - MacDonald vs. Swindell
Another incident during the night occurred when Eddie MacDonald and Kevin Swindell were battling for the lead right after a restart. MacDonald drifted up into Swindell and spun him in front of the field. Several cars bounced off Swindell's machine and started a downhill spiral that ended with a ninth-place finish.
“I don't know what he was thinking or why he did what he did,” said Swindell. “It ruined our night. I basically cleared him into turn one and I think he tried to make up a lot of ground. I left him more than enough room to race and he ran into my left rear and turned me around.
MacDonald, who enjoys a reputation for being a clean driver, was very remorseful for the incident.
“I really hate it getting into Kevin Swindell,” said MacDonald. “He had a fast car. My car was so tight up to three laps after the restart. I couldn't cut the wheel and make it through the center at all until I got heat in the tires. Once I got heat in there, it was great. That's why I picked the outside lane on the restarts because I would slide up so bad. I didn't want to be on the inside like that and take anyone out.
“I jumped on the throttle and Kevin was diamonding the corner. He came back down and I just got into him a little bit. It was more than he could recovery from. I backed right off and hoped that nobody would get into him, but a couple of guys did. It's a shame because we both had fast cars.”
That Car Finished in the Top Ten?
Amazingly, Kevin Swindell managed to still get a top ten finish with a badly damaged racecar at Lee. After the race, his ninth place machine was twisted and turned just about every way possible.
“To get back through there as torn up as we were and then to get torn up again on that other deal on the back straightaway and to come and put a right rear on and only have a green white checkered to race from the back again, this isn't bad,” said Swindell. “We had a fifth or sixth place car after it was torn up and a car that could have won without any problems.”
Long Day Results in Podium Trip For Moffitt
Brett Moffitt's first trip to Lee USA Speedway resulted in a third-place finish for his Joe Gibbs Racing team. That result didn't come easy.
“We were really fighting the car all day long from when we unloaded off the truck,” said Moffitt. “We definitely got it a lot better for the race, but our series hasn't run here for years so we didn't know what to expect. So we had to really work at it and throw a lot at it. We got it decent, but still had quite a bit more that we needed out of it. We got lucky, ended up being in the right place at the right time and finished third.”
MacDonald Has Prime Seat For The Finish
Eddie MacDonald had a prime seat for the finish of the race, where Darrell Wallace, Jr. dove under both MacDonald and Ryan Truex after a restart to take the lead and go on to score the victory.
“It just got so crazy at the end,” said MacDonald. “It was just a matter of whoever was on the inside was going to win because they would have 12 tires instead of four or eight. That's what you have to do on the last lap and he got the win because of it.”
Family Experience Helps Get Truex to The Podium
Ryan Truex had never raced at Lee USA Speedway (NH) before - but his father Martin, Sr. and his brother, Martin, Jr. had both seen laps in what is now known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at the facility. Ryan leaned on his family connections a little bit for advice leading into the race and that was part of how he pulled off a second-place finish.
“I lean on them everywhere,” said Ryan Truex. “They've been a really big part of my career and give me advice. I've got two of the best teachers out there. My Dad's been pretty successful here and he put in my head all day that I needed to save tires and be there at the end of the race and we were there.”
That Winning Feeling is Instant For Wallace
When Darrell Wallace, Jr. won his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race earlier this year at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC), he admitted that it took a few days before it really hit him. This time at Lee, he realized right away what he had done.
“It already hit me,” said Wallace immediately after the race. “It hit me as we crossed sideways across the line. I knew that we won. I didn't say anything on the radio, I was [too] stoked. I definitely hit me and I probably won't be sleeping tonight.”
Part of what made this victory special for Wallace was the fact that his team manager at Revolution Racing, Andy Santerre, had won the previous four East Series events held at Lee as a driver.
“I was sitting there under the red flag thinking of everything,” said Wallace. “I thought of how proud my family would be [if I won] and then I thought of how Andy said that he won six races here and I wanted to keep that strong. So I did and that's awesome. He told him that in victory lane and he told me it was awesome and 'good job.'
Wallace Shares His Victory With Three Teammates
Darrell Wallace, Jr. has now won twice this season, scoring the only victories so far for the four-car Revolution Racing superteam. His victory at Lee was a team effort according to the young driver.
“I can't thank them enough,”, said Wallace. “They give me such a good racecar. Even though we have to share everything through four cars, I have to make the best of it. It's still good.”
One reporter asked Wallace if he had been involved in an on-track incident involving one of his teammates, Ryan Gifford, during the event. Even though it was a rough race where seemingly everyone hit everyone else at one point, Wallace downplayed any possible contact between members of the Revolution Racing team.
“I didn't think that I hit any of my teammates,” said Wallace. “Ryan [Gifford] said that he got into me in that wreck back there. He couldn't help that. I checked up trying to get by Swindell and he checked up and then he got punted. I ended up getting punted [too]. So no big worries. He came over and congratulated me. He was happy for me. I know that he ended up with a short night and a torn up racecar, so I know he's not happy but it showed a lot of respect when he came to congratulate me. That's what a team is all about and if he won, I'd be right over there to congratulate him too.”