At this stage during last year’s racing season, Parker, Arizona’s Greg Pursley was sitting sixth in points with only one top-five finish, and a total of 27 laps led in five starts. Pursley who drives the No. 26 Gene Price Motorsports sponsored Ford Fusion in NASCAR’s K&N Pro West touring series, would eventually close out the 2010 season fifth in points with two wins, four top-fives, and seven top-10 finishes while leading a total of 151 laps.
[media-credit id=50 align=”alignright” width=”200″][/media-credit]The 43 year-old driver knew his team had the talent and determination to compete at this level, and proved it by going to victory lane twice in the last three races of the season. Pursley began the season finale by winning the Coors Light Pole award, while surpassing the record time he set at the one-mile Phoenix track in 2009.
Pursley would pull away on a final restart with seven laps remaining to capture his first victory at the track he called his “absolute favorite,” which capped off a season plagued by bad luck that would carry over into the following year.
The Newhall, California native got an early jump to start the 2011 season when he picked up where he left off the previous season, by going to victory lane in the season opener at Phoenix, for back-to-back wins at the Arizona one-mile track. In his first five starts, Pursley went to victory lane four times, with his only flaw coming at Roseville back in April where led a race high 133 laps before finishing third.
What a difference a year has made when you not only look at the fact Pursley has already doubled the races he won, but also the amount of laps he has led with nine races still remaining on the schedule. Pursley said that, “Time has allowed our team to gel. Communication and preparation is the key and we have both going for us right now,” when talking about some of the changes that were looked at during the off-season.
With an average finish of 1.4 and a 201 point lead over second place driver Moses Smith, Pursley’s blistering pace clearly makes him the driver the beat this season, and even more so after Saturday’s dominating performance in the O’Reilly 200 at the bullring in Las Vegas, Nevada. Once the teams unloaded for Saturday night’s feature race, Pursley wasted no time setting the pace when he broke the track record with a pole winning speed of 90.144 mph.
Pursley who went out in the 16th qualifying spot, bettered that of his 16 year-old teammate Dylan Kwasniewski by 0.467 mph, who went out eighth and finished the race in second. After the pre-race festivities took place, the only thing left for the 27 drivers was to see who would prevail after 200 laps of fighting the Nevada heat once the green flag was waved to start the race.
Pursley took the lead on the first lap of the race, as survival became the order of the night for the other 26 drivers when the first of 10 yellow flags for a Stan Silva solo spin less than 25 laps into the race. A total of 69 laps would be run under yellow before the end of the race, but none of that bothered Pursley as he dominated the race and became the only driver since 2009 to win a race from start to finish.
The last wire-to-wire win in the series was by Eric Holmes at Roseburg, Oregon. As the laps clicked away and the Nevada heat began to slowly dissipate behind a nice warm breeze, Pursley continued to heat up the track once his biggest threat, Eric Holmes who is the three-time and defending series champion left the race because of mechanical problems.
“Holmes was gonna be pretty good but I still kept the pace I wanted to keep and if he was gonna push me harder he would have had to go around me on the outside because I was not gonna give up the bottom and it probably would have been a good race.” Pursley said after the race.
With 34 laps left to go, Taylor Cuzick spins coming out of turn two to bring out the final caution of the night. On the final restart of the night, Pursley pulled away from his 16-year-old teammate and never looked back leaving Kwasniewski, Jason Fensler, and Michael Self to battle for the second position.
Pursley went on to win the race by 0.872 seconds over Kwasniewski who finished second, but more importantly extended his points lead along with picking-up his fourth win and setting the standard for the rest of the season. “Finally when the last caution came out with about 30 to go I had to go. It showed at the end the guys at the shop gave me a great car and I can’t complain,” said Pursley.
Pursley added this about his race winning strategy, “We had a great car strategy was to save the tires until lap 150. The good part about it is you when you start out front. You can pick your way around and I ran the pace I wanted to run and the guys behind me were pressing kind of hard and I didn’t let it bother. This was a dream for me.