Several CRA Drivers to make NASCAR K&N Pro Series East FieldScott Menlen
Speed51.com Story – A number of changes and additions during the offseason will have the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East field looking entirely different when the season kicks off Sunday at New Smyrna Speedway (FL). With a number of drivers using the popular developmental series as a ladder to climb to higher ranks of NASCAR, the championship picture is wide open.
To get you caught up with offseason changes, Speed51.com powered by JEGS has assembled this “Getting to Know” feature so that you’re not left scrambling for a roster when the green flag flies.
1 – Austin Theriault
Theriault, who completed a partial NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series schedule in 2016 with Brad Keselowski Racing, was recently named the driver of the Hattori Racing Toyota for the season opener. This will be just his second K&N East start after recording a 19th-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2012.
02 – Sarah Cornett-Ching
Cornett-Ching made three NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts in 2015, but plans to run a full-time schedule this season for car owner Tony Blanchard and Race 101. She heads into the season opener at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) after finishing 10th in the Red-Eye 100 Super Late Model race in January.
2 – Colin Cabre
Cabre enters the 2016 NASCAR K&N East season with momentum after winning the season finale at Dover in October. He will look to improve on his 10th-place finish in the standings in his sophomore season with the Rev Racing Drive for Diversity team.
3 – Kaz Grala
Grala returns to Ben Kennedy Racing for another full-time campaign in 2016. The rising star from Massachusetts will look to break through for his first series win after recording a trip of podium finishes one year ago.
04 – Ronnie Bassett, Jr.
Bassett, the older of two brothers competing on the K&N East circuit in 2016, will begin his third season at New Smyrna Speedway next Sunday. The Winston-Salem, North Carolina native has five top-five finishes in 30 career starts.
4 – Ali Kern
Kern will make her NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut at New Smyrna Speedway driving for Rev Racing. The 22-year-old Ohio native became just the second female to win an ARCA/CRA Super Series race when she bested a talented field last August at Kalamazoo Speedway (MI).
5 – J.J. Haley
Haley is the lone soldier returning for another year with HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks. With teammates William Byron, Dalton Sargeant and Scott Heckert going in different directions, the 16-year-old will be the veteran on the team in 2016. He recorded 10 top-10 finishes during his rookie season one year ago.
6 – Ruben Garcia, Jr.
Garcia, the defending NASCAR Mexico Series champion, will make the move to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this season. Garcia of Mexico City will pilot the No. 6 Rev Racing Toyota during his rookie season.
7 – Codie Rohrbaugh
Rohrbaugh, a former winner on the Super Cup Stock Car Series, will begin his 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season at New Smyrna Speedway after making six starts on the series in 2015. He recorded a career-best ninth-place finish at Motordrome Speedway in Pennsylvania last year.
9 – Christian Celaya
After competing in 12 of the 14 K&N East events one year ago, Celaya returns to the series in 2016. He recorded a career-best finish of 11th at VIRginia International Raceway in 2015 and will look to build on that this time around.
12 – Harrison Burton
Teaming up with series powerhouse HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks, Burton is among the favorites entering the season opener at New Smyrna Speedway. The second-generation racer won two races at the Florida half-mile last year in a Super Late Model and will look to win the big one on Sunday this year.
13 – Hunter Baize
After recording a pair of ARCA/CRA Super Series wins in 2015, Baize will make the jump to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East circuit in 2016. He will drive the No. 13 Chevrolet for HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks.
14 – Trey Hutchens
Hutchens has dabbled in both K&N East and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action in recent years, but will begin his 2016 racing season in a full-bodied car at New Smyrna Speedway. The Lexington, North Carolina driver recorded an average finish of 14.83 in six starts last season.
16 – Todd Gilliland
Gilliland will begin his rookie NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season with Bill McAnally Racing by making a K&N East start at New Smyrna Speedway. The second-generation racer won in both his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and ARCA Racing Series debut last year. He’ll look to score the trifecta by winning in his K&N East debut on Sunday.
19 – Riley Herbst
Herbst, a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, will make his debut for Bill McAnally Racing during the K&N East opener at New Smyrna. Herbst was a regular Late Model competitor at the Irwindale Event Center (CA) and recorded nine top-five finishes in 15 starts last season. He finished 15th in the Orange Blossom 100 Super Late Model race at New Smyrna earlier this year.
23 – J.P. Morgan
With three part-time K&N East seasons under his belt, Morgan will return for more when the series kicks off the 2016 schedule at New Smyrna. The 17-time Pro Cup winner will once again pilot the No. 23 Chevrolet for J&R Motorsports.
27 – Gracin Raz
Oregon racer Gracin Raz will make his second career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start on Sunday at New Smyrna. Raz, a winner on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West circuit in 2016, will drive the No. 27 Jefferson Pitts Racing Ford that he drives full-time on the West circuit.
30 – Dominque Van Wieringen
Van Wieringen will begin her rookie season on the K&N East circuit driving the No. 30 Rette Jones Racing Ford. The Ontario native is a former winner on the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour and has spent the last three seasons competing in the Late Model ranks.
31 – Ryan Preece
Preece will kick off a busy Speedweeks by piloting the Ted Marsh-owned No. 31 ride in the K&N East opener. As of now, Preece only has a one-race deal to drive the car due to his full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series plans with JD Motorsports.
38 – Tyler Dippel
Dippel, one of short track racing’s rising stars, will make his K&N East debut at New Smyrna Speedway to kick off a full season behind the wheel of the No. 38 HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks ride. The 15-year-old New York racer has prior experience racing Late Models on asphalt and Big-Block Modifieds on dirt.
40 – Kyle Benjamin
Benjamin, the 2015 K&N East winner at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN), will make his debut for Rainer Racing with MDM at New Smyrna. He is planning on running a select number of events with the team during the 2016 season. Voted the No. 1 pick in the 2013 Speed51.com Short Track Draft, Benjamin will be one to watch whenever he is behind the wheel.
41 – Spencer Davis
Davis turned heads with his performance in four K&N East starts for NTS Motorsports one year ago. The Dawsonville, Georgia driver recorded three top-five and four top-10 finishes in four starts. He has now joined forces with Rainer Racing with MDM and will kick off his 2016 season at New Smyrna.
42 – Jairo Avila, Jr.
Avila of Alhambra, California, lands in the No. 42 Rev Racing Toyota after tackling a diverse schedule one year ago. He made two ARCA Racing Series starts and recorded a career-best finish of 10th at Kansas Speedway while also competing in four Lucas Oil Modified Series events on the West Coast.
43 – David Calabrese
After three straight years of competing on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, Calabrese will make the transition to the full-bodied K&N East cars in 2016. The New Jersey native will embark on his rookie season driving the No. 43 Calabrese Motorsports Ford.
44 – Dillon Bassett
Bassett surprised many when he was able to breakthrough to secure his first K&N East win one year ago at Motordrome Speedway (PA). With an addition year of experience under his belt, the 17-year-old North Carolina driver will look to make even more noise during his sophomore season.
46 – Ulysse Delsaux
Delsaux of Troyes, France is set to make his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut after two seasons competing full time on the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. The young Frenchman earned his chance to enter his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series race by posting strong results in the official European NASCAR Series. He will drive the Precision Performance Motorsports No. 46 at New Smyrna Speedway.
49 – John Holleman IV
Holleman, a Stadium Sportsman racer at the historic Bowman Gray Stadium, will kick off his 2016 season by competing in the K&N East opener at New Smyrna. The Winston-Salem, North Carolina driver has driven everything from Legends Cars to Sportsman to Stock Cars in recent years.
55 – Noah Gragson
Gragson, the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West runner-up, will pilot the Jefferson Pitts Racing No. 55 during the K&N East opener at New Smyrna. The Las Vegas, Nevada driver scored two wins and 11 top-10 finishes in 13 K&N West starts last season.
66 – Reid Wilson
Wilson, a former Pro Cup racer, will make his way to New Smryna Speedway with the BR2 Racing crew. The former Summer Shootout winner from Charlotte, North Carolina scored seven top-five finishes in Pro Cup action in 20 career starts. Wilson is bringing the Young’s Motorsports NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team, led by Tyler Young, with him to New Smyrna.
77 – Clayton Green
Green considers himself to be the little dog with a big bite. After racing on the West circuit in 2015, Green and his family-owned race team will tackle the East events this season. The Texas driver recorded a best finish of seventh at Meridan Speedway (CA) last year.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com