[media-credit name=”RacingWest/Charly Porter” align=”alignright” width=”210″][/media-credit]NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West division rolled into Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Saturday night for the Southern California Toyota Dealers 200 presented by King Taco, and the only obstacle in the way of point’s leader Greg Pursley continuing his dream season, was the fact he had never won in a West race in 11 starts at this track he calls his home.
Pursley who drives the No. 26 Gene Price Motorsports/Star Nursery sponsored Ford in the West series, has been to victory lane 28 times at this progressively banked half mile including a Super Late Model championship in 2004.
Pursley also became the NASCAR Whelen All-American series national champion that same season winning 13 of 18 races, and in 2007 picked up a Super Late Model win in the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. ”We have been trying many years in this car to win here. We have won everything there is to win here,” Pursley said while waiting for the first of two practice sessions to begin.
The Newhall, California native wasted no time in preparing himself to overcome his nemesis by taking the pole, his third of the season and second-in-a-row at an oval track after deciding not to run the run the second practice session.
“We have been here enough to where we know what’s gonna happen and don’t want to get yourself in trouble in practice. We’ll know what we got after qualifying and that will tell us how we are gonna run tonight,” said Pursley.
Pursley also added that, “The communication is very well between myself and Jerry Pitts (Crew chief) and he understands what I like to feel in the car. I can get in the car and not have to worry about it and it takes a lot of stuff off the back of my mind.”
Once the green flag waved, Pursley quickly went to the front where he led the first 66 laps of the 200 lap feature race, which included a 10 minute break at the 100-lap mark to give the teams a chance to make adjustments.
Before the break, Michael Self would lead the last 36 laps of the first 100-lap segment when Pursley let the faster driver go by to save his car for the second half of the race. “The first 100 when the 21 passed it was planned. I told them I wasn’t going any faster. So if they want to go ahead let him go. I knew we needed to save our tires so we just let him go,” Pursley said when talking about the reason he moved over and let Self pass.
Once the cars came into the pits for the 10 minute break and restarted on lap 103, Pursley once again pulled away and led the next 55 laps when a caution came out because of a fire on pit road. The race restarted on lap 164 with Pursley showing the dominance he has shown all season when he pulled away from the rest of field, and took the checkered flag in front of a near sell-out crowd.
The win gave Pursley his fifth win on the season, but more importantly he was able to defeat the track that has eluded him throughout his K&N West Series career. “We have come so close so many times in this car and finally got one. When you’re on a roll like this you have to ride it as long as you can. Everyone knows in racing in can end like that you can go to the bottom as fast as you’re at the top,” Pursley said.
Pursley also added that, “It’s a tribute to my team and the preparation of my car and I probably have a different mindset entering these races being a little more careful and being a smarter driver. If we can win one were gonna win one and if not we have to get out with the best finish we can. “