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K&N West schedule includes return to Phoenix for season finale

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NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West revealed its 2019 schedule Wednesday, which features 14 races and begins Feb. 28 at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The schedule also includes the series’ return to ISM Raceway in Phoenix on Nov. 9 for its season finale.

The race will be one of four in three days, including the Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series’ final playoff elimination races.

The 100-lap K&N West race will be the series’ 45th on the 1-mile Phoenix track and its first since 2015. The series ended its 2018 season at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.

“Phoenix is a destination our fans and teams of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West have really wanted to get back to,” said Brandon Thompson, NASCAR’s managing director for regional racing in a press release. “With all the new and exciting changes with ISM Raceway, it’s a tremendous opportunity to return, and we are very excited to be part of their NASCAR Playoff Weekend. We want to say a huge thank you to International Speedway Corporation for underscoring their commitment to grassroots racers. To be able to crown our West champion on that stage means a lot for the series.”

The addition of the Phoenix race comes after Kevin Harvick underscored the lack of a K&N event at the track after his win there last March.

“I’ve been mad at (former track president Bryan) Sperber here for a couple years now because he won’t have the K&N cars come race here because it doesn’t help his budget,” Harvick said. “One of the best things that happened for racing, it’s not just about NASCAR, was when we had the Copper Classic here.  We had midgets, sprint cars.  Didn’t matter how many people sat in the grandstands.  As competitors, those guys, this was their Daytona. On the West Coast, this is what we thought our Daytona 500 was. This is where everybody wanted to race.

“It’s kicking those guys low on the K&N West Series that they don’t get to come and race at this particular racetrack because of the fact there’s a little bit of a pissing contest between a budget, what is right, what is wrong from a sanctioning fee side on Trucks and Xfinity. So they cut the K&N guys out.

“Cutting the grassroots side of things out is not the right way to do things.  Those guys, they just want to race.  This is a crown jewel race for those guys.  The thought process for me is broken.  When I look at our hardcore fans, they’re all sitting at those short tracks and they’re mad.”

Below is the full K&N West schedule.

Date Track Location Laps
Thurs., Feb. 28 Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Las Vegas, Nev. 100
Sat., March 30 Irwindale Speedway Irwindale, Calif. 150
Sat., May 11 Tucson Speedway * Tucson, Ariz. 100s*
Sat, June 8 Colorado National Speedway Dacono, Colo. 175
Sat, June 22 Sonoma Raceway Sonoma, Calif. 64
Sat, June 29 Douglas County Speedway Roseburg, Ore. 150
Fri., July 26 Iowa Speedway Newton, Iowa 150
Sat., Aug. 17 Evergreen Speedway Monroe, Wash. 175
Sat., Aug. 24 Gateway Motorsports Park Madison, Ill. 120
Sat., Sept. 28 Meridian Speedway Meridian, Idaho 208
Sat., Oct. 12 All American Speedway Roseville, Calif. 150
Sat., Oct. 26 Kern County Raceway Park Bakersfield, Calif. 175
Sat., Nov. 9 ISM Raceway Avondale, Ariz. 100

* Twin 100-lap championship points races

 

K&N Series to hold doubleheaders with IndyCar, World of Outlaws

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NASCAR K&N Pro Series teams will take part for the first time in doubleheaders with the World of Outlaws and IndyCar Series next year.

The first doubleheader, with the World of Outlaws, will take place Feb. 27 – 28 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track. It serves as a lead-in for the tripleheader weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for NASCAR’s three national series.

The World of Outlaws will compete on the LVMS Dirt Track on both days of the doubleheader, holding its FVP Platinum Battery Outlaw Showdown presented by Star Nursery.

The K&N Pro Series West will hold its second race on the half-mile dirt track on Feb. 28.

The 2018 Star Nursery 100, won by Sheldon Creed, marked the first K&N Pro Series race on a dirt track since 1979.

The LVMS Dirt Track has hosted World of Outlaws events since 1996 and has held double features every spring since 2013.

The doubleheader with IndyCar will take place Aug. 24 at Gateway Motorsports Park outside St. Louis.

The K&N event is a combined race with West and East teams and is the second K&N race at the 1.25-mile track after the series debuted there this year.

IndyCar will hold its third consecutive race at Gateway after returning to the track in 2017.

The K&N/IndyCar weekend is the second doubleheader the track will host in 2019.

The NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and ARCA Racing Series will visit on June 22.

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Hailie Deegan’s bump-and-run leads to busy week

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It’s 3:47 p.m. ET on Monday and the Hailie Deegan victory tour is going full tilt.

On the other end of a phone line, the 17-year-old can be heard in the middle of a social media hit for EspnW.

After talking with NBC Sports for 12 minutes, it’ll be onto an appearance on a NASCAR on NBC podcast and later in the day a visit with NASCAR America.

Since 11 a.m., Deegan has done eight interviews.

“It’s been crazy, non-stop,” Deegan says.

It’s what happens when you become the first woman to win a NASCAR K&N Pro Series race, an accomplishment waiting to be achieved since 1987 in the East Series and since 1954 in the West.

On Saturday night at a .250-mile track in Meridian, Idaho, Deegan knocked down the oldest of those barriers.

But she had to knock a teammate out of the way to do it.

It came on the last lap of the NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208 (airing at 1 p.m. ET on Friday on NBCSN), in Deegan’s 12th career start.

In her way was Cole Rouse, a 21-year-old driver also seeking his first win.

In Deegan’s ear for the final 13 laps was a cacophony of voices.

“I couldn’t even tell who was on the radio,” Deegan recalls.  “I got (owner) Bill McAnally on the radio, my crew chief (Kevin Reed Jr.), got my spotter and maybe my dad (action sports star Brian Deegan), I don’t even know.”

The final 13 laps went by so fast, on Monday she thought it had just been five.

Right before the white flag, Reed told her “Do whatever you got to do to win.”

“And I knew what I had to do,” Deegan says.

Since she was a kid, Deegan has watched many videos of her racing and losing battles for position.

“It’s cool to see me excel on those (videos) and kind of get better,” says Deegan, who thought, “‘Ok, I’ve practiced, I’ve worked on my little bump-and-run things at the kart track for hours and hours. I am able to do them.'”

As Rouse dove into Turn 1, his No. 99 Toyota went high.

Deegan went low. She was so focused, she didn’t even notice the No. 77 of Andrew Koens sitting backwards on the apron.

Halfway through the turn and even with Rouse’s left-rear fender, Deegan gave him “a little budge.”

“We ran after that,” Deegan says.

NASCAR’s newest winner called her historic night in Idaho “probably the most fun I’ve had in America.”

As her 12 minute interview window winds down, Deegan says she knows more eyes will be watching and waiting for to win again.

There are two races left in the K&N West season and Deegan is fifth in the standings, 67 points back from Derek Thorn.

With so much more attention on her, how will she keep from letting the spotlight of the media circus – tweets from Kyle Busch and NASCAR President Steve Phelps – go to her head?

“Honestly, it just motivates me,” Deegan says. “It makes me feel like I’m privileged to be bombarded with media and have these opportunities, ’cause not many drivers get to have these opportunities and that’s what these drivers dream about having and that’s what makes their careers. I think being able to have all this going on is a blessing. … I think that right now it makes me feel like I just want to keep pushing even harder so I can keep kind of checking off my goals.”

 

Historic: Hailie Deegan becomes first woman to win K&N Pro Series race

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Hailie Deegan used a last-lap pass to win Saturday night’s K&N Pro Series West race at Meridian (Idaho) Speedway and become the first woman to win in series history.

Deegan passed Bill McAnally Racing teammate Cole Rouse entering Turn 1 on the last lap to take the lead. It was the only lap she led.

Deegan’s best previous finish had been second twice before in the series, including two weeks ago at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Deegan told Hometracks.NASCAR.com of the winning last-lap move:

“I was in bed last night thinking, ‘If it comes down, last lap, I’m in second, I’m a car length off of him, what am I going to do?’ And I found that Turn 1 spot. I knew what exactly I had to do there. I was doing it to some other people just getting right under them to get them a little light to get them, not wrecking loose, nothing crazy, but enough to just get a little under them and make the pass happen. We did that. I knew exactly what I had to do the last lap. I did it, we executed, and we made it happen.”

Rouse told Hometracks.NASCAR.com of the last lap: “We were going into Turn 1 … and she doesn’t lift and drives into me, gets me completely sideways. We were going to win that race if it was run clean, but unfortunately it wasn’t. I’m just going to go into the next two races, not give her any slack and we’re going to win both of those. It was a good night, but I don’t really care about second, honestly.”

The race is scheduled to air at 1 p.m. ET Friday (October 5) on NBCSN.

Will Rodgers on K&N West win at Sonoma: ‘Has always been the one that I wanted’

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For the last year, what happened in the K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma Raceway “ate away” at Will Rodgers.

The 23-year-old driver finished second to Cup champion Kevin Harvick on the road course located roughly six hours north of his former home in Solvang, California, a result that led to Harvick’s public praise of Rodgers.

“Sonoma has always been the one that I wanted (to win), for a few reasons,” Rodgers told NBC Sports. “It was my first NASCAR start ever (in 2016). The other part is we finished second to Kevin Harvick last year. As that may be considered a win itself, I still didn’t walk away with the hardware. Knowing where I made mistakes and why I didn’t win that race. I needed the chance to go back and do it.”

Thanks to Jefferson Pitts Racing and sponsor KELLY Benefit Strategies, he was able to that last Saturday, winning the Carneros 200 (airing at 6 p.m. ET today on NBCSN) from the pole and defeating five Cup drivers: Aric Almirola, William Byron, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and Alex Bowman.

Rodgers said it “for sure” was the biggest win of his career.

“I say my success was not because I beat five Cup drivers,” Rodgers said. “It’s because I matured as a driver and I decided this is exactly what I’m going to do and I went and accomplished it. It wasn’t necessarily banking that I beat those guys, it was that I accomplished it myself. I’d say that’s something that will hopefully help me not let it go to my head because it’s just a way for me to say to myself, ‘I need to keep working harder.’ I need to finally now figure out how I can have that mindset going into a circle track and go win a race.”

Rodgers has now won the last four K&N road course races, including the K&N East race the previous week at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Though he’s competed in five of the six K&N West races this season, the NASCAR Next member is not slated for another K&N start until the Aug. 3 K&N East race at Watkins Glen, where he won last season.

“Road course racing, I’m so comfortable with,” Rodgers said. “I don’t really have to worry too much. I know when I’m in the element everything is going to fall into place and I’ll be comfortable.”

Before arriving at the K&N and ARCA levels (where he competes part-time for Ken Schrader Racing), Rodgers developed his racing skills in the Pirelli World Challenge, the Sports Car Club of America, the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, motocross and go karts.

He detailed how all of those racing disciplines has helped him in his transition to stock racing, which “combines all of those things while driving a boat.”

Go karts – “You learn how to be consistent and you learn how to read race tracks. You start to learn your competitive edge.”

Motocross – “You learn how to be extremely aggressive yet read terrain very well.”

Sports cars – “You learn how to really maximize your equipment and you really maximize the racing surface. The way that I put it, try to wring the neck of any car that you’re driving at any track you race on.”