Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) kept up their consistency with qualifying in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE), as Ben Rhodes captured the 21 Means 21 pole award on Thursday afternoon for the PittLite 125 at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was Rhodes' second-straight pole award and the third in three races this season for TSM. Rhodes turned the quick speed he had on Thursday into a fast car on Saturday as he led 130 of the 132 laps en route to a third-place finish in the race. Brandon Jones was able to finish inside the top 10, as Cameron Hayley, Kaz Grala and Scott Heckert each experienced issues in the PittLite 125, finishing outside the top 15 in their TSM entries.
Ben Rhodes was the standout for TSM at Bristol Motor Speedway. Rhodes started from the pole position in the 125-lap event and quickly surged out to an early lead. The NASCAR Next driver held the top position for 130 laps as cautions would extend upon the race's scheduled distance. Rhodes was able to fight off advances from other competitors often in the race, as he held strong in the top position. It wasn't until lap 131 that Rhodes would surrender the race lead after contact from another competitor. He held on to finish in the third position in the event, marking his second top-five finish of the season. Rhodes enters the race at Greenville-Pickens next weekend third in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings.
Ben Rhodes on his top-five finish at Bristol:
"It was very frustrating; I really wanted to get the win for this team. They did a great job giving me a fast racecar all weekend long. All in all, though, it was a great run for the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions team; we were able to capture our second pole and lead a ton of laps."
Brandon Jones started the PittLite 125 in the 12th position and quickly showed his competitors that he had a car with top-10 speed. By the time the first caution flag flew on lap 19, Jones worked his way up into the top 10 and was pleased with the way his car was running on the racetrack. The 17-year-old utilized his quick car to work his way around competitors and continually move up through the field. By the time the break came in the PittLite 125, Jones sat in the sixth position on the racetrack. By lap 85, Jones worked his way into the top five and was running in the fifth position, where he remained until the laps began to wind down. A couple of late-race restarts and restarting in the low line pushed Jones back to the eighth position, where he eventually finished the race. Following Jones' second top-10 finish of the season, he now sits ninth in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings heading into Greenville-Pickens next weekend.
Brandon Jones on his top-10 finish at Bristol:
"It was a very solid points day for the No. 33 Wolfpack Energy Services team. I think we learned a lot of valuable information that we will be able to take with us to Greenville-Pickens next weekend, as well as moving forward with the rest of the season in 2014."
Cameron Hayley began the PittLite 125 in the seventh position. When the race began, Hayley held strong within the top 10, however, he battled a loose-handling racecar during the opening 19 laps. When the first caution flag flew, crew chief Mardy Lindley decided to bring the No. 98 down the pit lane, looking to improve upon Hayley's ill-handling machine. The stop forced Hayley to go to the back of the pack and restart the race in the 26th position on lap 25. Hayley worked his way through the field, picking off one position at a time after the race resumed. By lap 65, Hayley was back inside the top 20 in the 19th position. With 25 laps to go in the race, Hayley had worked his way up to 16th and looked poised to contend for a top-15 finish. However, on lap 112, the NASCAR Next driver was caught up in an accident that would ruin his advances up the racetrack. The damage suffered was not enough to take Hayley out of the event but would force him to settle for a 17th-place finish. Hayley currently sits fifth in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings as the series heads to Greenville-Pickens Speedway next weekend.
Cameron Hayley on his finish at Bristol Motor Speedway:
"This was a tough weekend for the No. 98 Cabinets by Hayley Chevrolet from start to finish. We just could not get a handle on the car between our handling issues and carburetor trouble. Overall though, we look forward to moving onto Greenville-Pickens next weekend with a positive attitude and putting together a solid race weekend."
Kaz Grala began the PittLite 125 in the 19th position, looking to continue upon his back-to-back top-10 finishes to open up the 2014 NKNPSE season. When the race began, Grala held steady around the 20th position. However, on lap 32, Grala was caught up in an accident that cut his right-front tire, forcing the No. 31 to hit pit road. The team quickly went to work repairing the damage suffered and changing Grala's tires, however, the team lost a lap during the repairs. When the race got restarted, Grala was running in the 31st position, looking to move into the lucky-dog position and regain the lap that was lost. The caution flew again on lap 52 and moved Grala up to the 28th position on the racetrack. Grala continued to run in the 28th position until, on lap 90, the team decided to bring the No. 31 back down pit road looking to make more adjustments to his machine. The stop put Grala several laps down. However, with multiple cautions and cars falling out of the event, Grala was able to work his way up to the 20th position, that first car off the lead lap. The finish puts Grala 11th in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings heading into Greenville-Pickens next weekend.
Kaz Grala on Bristol Motor Speedway:
"I think we had a car good enough to make it up into the top 10, but unfortunately, we got hit with some bad luck early with us having a flat tire and a loose wheel. All in all, considering the circumstances, I was able to keep my thoughts together and drive back to a top-20 finish. The No. 31 OzLINK Chevy team led by Ray Holm rallied and put in a great effort to help us salvage a decent result out of a rough day."
Scott Heckert began the PittLite 125 at Bristol Motor Speedway in the 25th position following qualifying on Thursday. Heckert was able to advance from his starting position after the race began and work his way up through the pack. By lap 25, Heckert moved into the 17th position and looked poised to continue his march up into the top 10. Heckert remained in the 17th position when the break came on lap 71 in the race. The team used the opportunity to make adjustments to the No. 34 as they looked to move up into the top 15. By lap 15, Heckert moved into the top 15 and looked as though he had a car that could contend for a top-10 finish. The push for a top-10 position would be halted, however, when Heckert was caught up in an accident on lap 110 that ended his day early, ultimately resulting in a 27th place finish. Heckert sits 20th in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings following the race.
Scott Heckert on Bristol Motor Speedway:
"First off, I want to thank the guys on the No. 34 Turner Scott Motorsports team for their continued hard work. We had a really good car and we were making our way to the front, and we just got caught up in an accident. When we stop having the bad luck that we've had to start this season, I know we will be running up front and contending for wins."