Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pursley in search of first NASCAR K&N Pro Series West win at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale

After flat tires, oil leaks and a couple of crashes that destroyed two of his team’s cars, Greg Pursley is going to throw caution to the wind.
His Gene Price Motorsports team has a brand-new car for tonight's NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. The decision to break out a new car is due in part because of what happened in the race at Iowa Speedway in May.
“The car that we hit the wall with in Iowa was the car that we usually race at Phoenix and at Irwindale and stuff,” the 42-year-old Pursley said. “It pretty much destroyed that car, one of them we’ve been running at all the short tracks. We decided after everything that’s gone on, we’d go ahead and pull it out for the Irwindale race and see what we can do with it.”
Pursley has put together some nice finishes in the West Series. He has three top 10s in five races. But Pursley is not one to sugar-coat things.
“We’ve been absolutely terrible,” Pursley said. “No luck whatsoever.”
He said he should have won the West Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. He led for 27 laps and was in the lead on lap 92 of the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 100, but an oil leak dropped him to third.
He got a flat tire in the race at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore., and went from fourth to sixth in the final laps.
Those were the races he finished. He’s been in two races that ended in crashes. The crash in Iowa, in addition to destroying his race car, gave Pursley a concussion.
“He didn’t remember anything for four days,” said Gene Price, the owner of the team. “He was pretty shaken up.”
Pursley was hit by Jim Inglebright in the West Series race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma two weeks ago. That crash put his team’s road course car out of commission.
“I don’t know where (Inglebright) thought he was going to go,” Price said. “Unfortunately that’s what the fans want to see. They want to see wrecks. It’s unfortunate. I guess it makes for good TV and all that, but it sure hits you in the pocketbook, especially at our level.”
Down two race cars, Gene Price Motorsports has been busy putting together some new cars for Pursley. After the Sonoma race, Pursley dropped from third to seventh place in the West Series standings. He’s not out of contention for the West Series championship, but he took a big hit in the standings. He is 139 points behind leader Eric Holmes.
Being that far back in the standings, Pursley and his team have a different focus heading to Irwindale.
“We’re going loaded to win,” Pursley said. “We have nothing else to lose at this point. We’re kind of back in points a little bit, so we’re going out to win races and not worry about points.”
Pursley has won his share of races at Irwindale. He won a NASCAR Super Late Model race during the Toyota All-Star Showdown in 2007. He won two races in the NASCAR Elite Division, Southwest Tour at Irwindale. But he has yet to win a West Series race at Irwindale.
“It’s very strange that way,” Pursley said. “These cars are a whole lot different than any other cars. They’re a lot heavier and there’s just a totally different driving style for these cars compared to anything else.”
When Pursley won the NASCAR Whelen All American Series national championship while racing primarily at Irwindale in 2004, he drove a Super Late Model car with the No. 13 on it.
The new car his team built for the West Series race at Irwindale is chassis No. 13.
“Hopefully 13 will work for us,” Price said.
Price has his share of success stories at Irwindale too. His son, Mike Price, won the NASCAR Super Stocks championship at Irwindale in 1999, in a car built by his dad. Gene Price and his son worked their way through the ranks at Irwindale, eventually racing in the Super Late Model division at the track. Without a doubt, Irwindale has been kind to Pursley and Price.
“The national championship, that’s the best thing for me that I’ve done in my career,” Pursley said. “In 2007, when we won the Toyota All-Star Showdown, we’ve won a lot of races at that track and we’ve won a lot of big races at the track. Ever since that place has opened, I fell in love with it. It fitted my driving style. Hopefully we can get a win in a West car. We’ve pretty much won in everything else there.”
After the West Series race at Irwindale, Pursley and Gene Price Motorsports are headed back to Iowa Speedway for a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on July 11.
The team bought two cars from Kevin Harvick Inc., both driven by four-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr., and plan to make their debut at the Lucas Oil 200 at Iowa Speedway.
“I’m really excited,” Pursley said. “We tested the trucks at Pike’s Peak a few weeks ago. Tested well.”
It is the first of four Truck Series races Pursley plans to enter. The team is also planning on going to the Truck Series races at Chicagoland, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
“We tested at Pike’s Peak last month,” Price said. “We were fast. It’s the next level. We’re going to see what it’s like.”

Photo: NASCAR K&N Pro Series West driver Greg Pursley has won a national championship, a Toyota All-Star Showdown race and two NASCAR Elite Division Southwest Tour races at Irwindale. He has yet to win a West Series race at Irwindale though.

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