K&N East Preview: Greenville

K&N

The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 will be the second of 14 races on the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule. (Photo: Getty Images)

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It might only be the second race of the season, but there could be something learned about the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season when the series visits Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway for the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 on Saturday, April 8.

Each of the last three series champions won the early spring race at the historic half-mile.

Ben Rhodes kicked off his 2014 championship season with a win in this race, while William Byron followed with the same feat in 2015. Last season, Justin Haley picked up the first of his two career series wins in the April race at Greenville. Byron finished fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings last season and is currently competing full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, while Rhodes currently ranks fifth in the Camping World Truck Series in his second full season there.  

With his win at New Smyrna in February to begin the 2017 campaign, his first career K&N Pro Series win, Ronnie Bassett Jr. leads the early standings featuring five rookies in the top eight positions.

Fast Facts

The Race: The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 will be the second of 14 races on the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule. 

The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials while the remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps, spanning 75 miles, and will be run in two segments with a five-minute break at or near the conclusion of Lap 75.

The Track: Greenville is a half-mile asphalt oval with five degrees banking in the turns. It opened in 1946 with a dirt racing surface and was paved in 1970. It hosted 29 Sprint Cup Series races from 1951-71. It also hosted two NASCAR XFINITY Series, four NASCAR Convertible Series and two NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour events.

Race Winners: There have been 15 different winners in the 16 previous K&N East races at Greenville. Current NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr. is the only two-time winner at the track.

Pole Winners: In the 16 previous events, there have been 12 different pole winners. Brett Moffitt won three career poles at the track, the most of any driver.

Race Notes

First Time?: Chances are there will be a first-time winner at Greenville Pickens Speedway on Saturday, but not if Kyle Benjamin has anything to say about it. Benjamin is the only driver entered in Saturday’s Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 to have won previously at the track. Benjamin led 15 laps in a 140-lap event at Greenville last September en route to his second of three wins on the season. Benjamin won the pole and finished second in this race a year ago. He will be making his season debut with the K&N Pro Series this weekend in the No. 40 for owner Mark McFarland.

Learning Curve: Harrison Burton might not have the most impressive career statistics at Greenville, but if his results at New Smyrna in the season opener are any indication, the 16-year-old driver is on the fast track to a markedly improved 2017 season. Burton has an average finish of 12th in two career starts at Greenville, including a 15th-place finish in this race a year ago. But Burton also had a similar track record at New Smyrna —where he finished 13th in 2016. Fast forward to this past February, and Burton won the pole at New Smyrna and finished fourth to match his career-best from Columbus last summer. It was only Burton’s second top five finish in his young career.

Double duty: Third-generation driver and reigning NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Todd Gilliland will continue to chase both the East and West series titles this weekend at Greenville. Gilliland enters the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 as the hottest driver in either K&N Pro Series division, having won three straight West races. Gilliland won at Kern County Raceway Park on March 23 and then swept both halves of Twin 100s at Irwindale Speedway two days later to take over the K&N Pro Series West point lead. Gilliland, son of former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver David Gilliland, now has 10 West wins in 19 career starts. He also won in the East series last year at New Smyrna.

Two Car Team: Point leader and New Smyrna winner Ronnie Bassett Jr. will again have a teammate in younger brother Dillon Bassett this weekend at Greenville. Dillon Bassett started third at New Smyrna and has one career K&N Pro Series win on his resume. Ronnie Bassett Jr. has a solid track record at Greenville, having started inside the top 10 in each of his last four races at the track with three top-five and four top-10 finishes in six starts there. In fact, engine trouble sidelined him early in the two races that he finished outside the top 10.

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