Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) had a promising day go by the wayside overall for the organization in the Granite State 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Ben Rhodes was able to start the weekend off on a high note by capturing the 21 Means 21 pole award, marking the seventh pole award for TSM in 2014. Some late-race incidents changed the overall outcome for TSM, some in the right way, while some were affected negatively. Kaz Grala was the sole TSM driver to bring home a top-10 finish, while Cameron Hayley, Brandon Jones, Ben Rhodes and Scott Heckert suffered setbacks throughout the day.
Grala came into the Granite State 100 with quite a bit of momentum. The 15-year-old looked to take advantage of that momentum while visiting his home track, New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The weekend didn't get off to the start Grala was hoping for as the Massachusetts native started the race in the 30th position due to an engine change. Grala and the entire No. 31 NETTTS/Kiklos Olive Oil team didn't allow the starting position to affect their tenacity as they battled all afternoon long. Grala slowly worked his way through the field, sitting in 20th by the halfway point of the event. The youngest full-time driver in the field continued a steady march through the pack, getting up to 18th by lap 89. Grala utilized some late-race chaos to march his way through the field further, ultimately finishing 10th when it was all said and done. This marked the fifth top 10 for Grala through 10 races in 2014. The 15-year-old sits 10th in the NKNPSE Drive Point Standings heading into Columbus Speedway next weekend.
Kaz Grala on his run at New Hampshire:
"Wow, what a crazy day for the No. 31 NETTTS/Kiklos Chevy. We started 30th due to an engine change and battled our way back to a solid top-10 finish, giving us five in 2014. I was happy to have put on a great show for the home-race fans that came out to support me. We had a solid points day and moved up a spot in points, so I can't wait to go capitalize on it at Columbus next weekend."
Hayley entered the weekend looking to improve upon his recent runs in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE), however, the 17-year-old experienced quite the up-and-down race throughout the Granite State 100. Hayley began the race in the eighth position and looked to improve upon that throughout the evening. As the race began, Hayley held strong inside the top 10 until, while under caution on lap 43, the 17-year-old felt a flat right-front tire on the No. 98 Cabinets by Hayley Chevrolet. Hayley brought the car to the attention of his crew and they changed tires and got him back on track without losing a lap. When the halfway mark of the race was displayed, Hayley was in 22nd. The young driver utilized patience throughout the remainder of the 100-lap event, dodging incidents on track and recovering from yet another flat tire in the second half of the event to bring home a 15th-place finish. Hayley heads into Columbus Speedway next weekend scored third in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings, 66 points out of the lead.
Cameron Hayley on his race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
"We had a very fast Cabinets by Hayley/Curb Records Chevrolet all race long, however, the flat tires that we suffered throughout the race hindered our overall finish. I hate it for my guys, but things happen and we know we had at least a top-five car all weekend long. It's time to move onto Columbus and focus our energy towards next weekend where I know we will have another strong Turner Scott Chevrolet."
The 17-year-old Georgia native had a lot of momentum on his side heading into the Granite State 100, which was clearly evident throughout the majority of the race. Jones looked strong, running inside the top 10 for the entirety of the event. The weekend got started right for Jones as he started the race in the seventh position, even after drawing to go out first in qualifying the day prior. Jones utilized the strong starting position to bide his time early on, moving up to sixth by lap 30. Jones continued his march forward as the 17-year-old ran in the top five by lap 43. A great restart following the halfway break of the race moved Jones into third as he looked to challenge for his first NKNPSE victory. Jones worked his way into second, passing TSM teammate Rhodes on lap 68, continuing his march to the race lead. Jones moved into the lead on lap 78, piloting the fastest car on the racetrack at the time. Jones was out front for 11 circuits, until eventually losing the lead on a late-race restart with just ten laps remaining. A late caution on lap 93 gave Jones another shot at victory as the race resumed with five laps to go. Jones was able to close in on the race leader on the final lap, putting it all on the line to win. Unfortunately, Jones and the leader got together in the race's final corner, ending his bid for the victory. In the end, Jones brought home a 21st-place finish. Jones heads to Columbus next weekend sitting in a tie for fourth in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings.
Brandon Jones on racing at New Hampshire:
"That was a tough way to end yet another great run for our No. 33 Wolfpack Energy Services team. I hate that it had to happen that way, but I can't thank the guys on this crew for all the hard work they put in each and every week. Coming off the win in ARCA a week ago, it felt good to run up front once again, even if we don't have the overall result to go with it."
The NASCAR Next driver came into New Hampshire chasing history, as Rhodes looked to tie the record for most consecutive victories in the NKNPSE set by champion Ricky Craven in 1991. The chase for history got off to a great start as Rhodes captured the 21 Means 21 pole award for the Granite State 100, marking Rhodes' fifth pole award of 2014. As the race began, Rhodes quickly settled into the top spot, leading the way early in the 100-lap event. Rhodes eventually lost the race lead on lap 26 when the 17-year-old suffered some damage while battling for the lead that would hinder his run the remainder of the race. Following the incident, Rhodes settled into second looking for the right time to charge back to the lead. The impairment suffered was enough to force the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions team to shift their focus to the damaged locations during the halfway break in the race. When the race resumed, Rhodes remained in second until lap 68 when TSM teammate Jones worked his way past. A late-race restart on lap 89 saw Rhodes get into a three-wide situation, ultimately losing multiple positions in the process and falling to 11th. Another late caution flew on lap 93, putting the field under red-flag conditions. When the race resumed on Lap 95, Rhodes was hit with a pass-through penalty for passing too early on the restart. The penalty forced Rhodes to come down pit road and relegated the No. 41 Chevrolet to a 22nd-place finish. Despite the less-than-desired finish, Rhodes continues to lead the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings by 62 points.
Ben Rhodes on his race at New Hampshire:
"The way the race ended was unfortunate, but we are not looking back. My entire No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions team and I are more focused than ever before to go win at Columbus Motor Speedway next weekend. The race at New Hampshire was disappointing, but that will be our mulligan for 2014. We'll move on and be ready to contend for the victory again next weekend."
Heckert came into the Granite State 100 looking to build upon the momentum of some great runs over the past few races. The 20-year-old began the race in the sixth position following a solid qualifying run for the No. 34 Project Lifesaver Chevrolet. When the race began, Heckert quickly settled into the top 10, looking to pick up positions as the race continued on. By the midway portion of the race, Heckert was scored in the seventh position and looking for more. The second half of the race wasn't as kind to Heckert as the first, as race restarts would prove to be an issue. Heckert fell from the seventh position to 10th by lap 65. Still, Heckert continued on looking to fight for another top-10 finish. When the final caution of the race flew on lap 92, Heckert was in the ninth position; however, as the race resumed on Lap 95, the 20-year-old was forced to serve a one-lap penalty for aggressive driving, which brought his No. 34 down pit road. The penalty ultimately relegated Heckert to a 25th-place finish in the Granite State 100. Heckert heads into Columbus next weekend sitting 13th in the NKNPSE Driver Point Standings.
Scott Heckert on his race at New Hampshire:
"We had yet another solid run going for the No. 34 team at New Hampshire prior to the penalty we were forced to serve. This team has continued to gain speed each and every week we've gotten to the racetrack, and I think that will only continue at Columbus."