Pursley wins K&N Pro Series West season opener at Phoenix

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Greg Pursley’s run of success in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and Phoenix International Raceway has continued into 2011, with a win in the season opening 3 Amigos Organic Blanco 100 on Thursday.

It was Pursley’s second straight win at Phoenix – to go with his victory in the 2010 finale at the 1-mile oval – and his third in the last four races.

“My team gave me a great car,” Pursley said of his win in the No. 26 Gene Price Motorsports Ford. “It’s the same car we won here with in November.”

His team opted to cut short their practice session earlier in the day. “We kind of put it away a little early, so we didn’t over adjust ourselves on the track conditions,” Pursley said.

Then they had a specific game plan for the race.

“Our strategy was to come in really early and try and save our stuff,” Pursley said. “While everybody had different strategies, we came in during the second caution and put on two tires and fuel and went out with the mindset to save our tires and wait everybody out and try to keep the fenders on it. And it worked.”

The veteran driver from Newhall, Calif., who now lives in nearby Parker, Ariz., pulled away from the field on the final restart with seven laps remaining and won by a margin of 1.135 seconds.

“I didn’t want to see that yellow flag, but I just knew we had to put down some qualifying laps there at the end,” Pursley said. 

He credited his team with their run of success. “My crew chief, Jerry Pitts, we’ve just now been together a year and kind of figured each other out,” Pursley said. “Our team has gelled together really well.”   

Jonathon Gomez of Twin Falls, Idaho took the runner-up spot in his No. 22 Heritage Cattle/Century Boatland Chevrolet, matching his career-best series finish. Series rookie Derek Thorn of Lakeport, Calif., finished third in the No. 44 Four Star Fruit/Hronis Racing Chevrolet. He was followed by Ty Dillon, who had finished third at Phoenix in November, and Brett Thompson, who was making his 100th career series start. Rounding out the top 10 were Jim Inglebright; two-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion Andrew Ranger; Moses Smith; David Mayhew; and 2010 NASCAR Canadian Tires Series champion DJ Kennington.

Action sports star Travis Pastrana, making his first start in a NASCAR points event, finished 25th after a late-race spin. Pastrana, who was as high as seventh, made contact with the inside wall on the front stretch, but got it pointed in the right direction and didn’t bring out the caution.

Defending race winner and series champion Eric Holmes came away from Phoenix with a 14th-place finish. After qualifying 25th, his team opted to make an engine change and start the race from the back of the pack. The three-time series champion worked his way into the top five before make his pit stop.

The race featured 10 lead changes among five drivers, with 24 drivers finishing on the lead lap.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will back on track on Saturday, April 16 for the Toyota/NAPA AutoCare 150 at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif.