Tuesday, May 8, 2018

K&N WEST: Patriot Motorsports Group cars bookend second Tucson 100

PHOTO: @Jesse_Iwuji
by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor

Jesse Iwuji finished last for the sixth time in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West career in Saturday’s Port of Tucson 100 Twin 100 Race 2 when his #36 Perfect Hydration Chevrolet finished running 60 laps down in the 100-lap event.

The finish was his first since March’s Bakersfield 175 presented by NAPA Auto Parts, two races ago.

The Twin 100s at Tucson was a renaissance of a kind for the series, with multiple former drivers returning to the series for the first time in years. Most notably, 90-year-old NASCAR Hall of Fame candidate Hershel McGriff returned in a fourth Bill McAnally Racing machine, finishing last in Race 1 and not competing in Race 2. Cassie Gannis returned with Patriot Motorsports Group, her first crack at big-league stock car racing since ill-fated DNQs with Mike Harmon in Trucks and Carter 2 Motorsports in ARCA during a disastrous 2015. Vanessa Robinson returned for the first time since 2016, this time driving for Jefferson Pitts Racing.

The eighteen-car entry list had one debut, also from the Jefferson Pitts stable. Devin Dodson, an eighteen-year-old late model driver, took time out of his Empire Racing late model schedule (where he’s a teammate of Thad Moffitt) to run the two races. Dodson’s resume includes go-kart championships as well as dirt and asphalt late models with some experience in the Southeast Limited Late Model Series.

All cars practiced on Friday. Hershel McGriff, Jr., the crew chief for his father, drove the #04 in first practice and anchored the charts. His best lap of 18.035 seconds was eight-tenths off of the next-slowest car and almost two seconds off Derek Kraus’ pace-setting lap. The elder McGriff fell to the bottom of the charts in second practice with a 17.668, a tenth off Gannis and only 1.3 seconds off the leader. The #04 South Point Casino-backed machine stayed in last for qualifying with a 17.5-second lap that fell seven-tenths off the next car and 1.5 seconds off polesitter Kraus.

An attrition-free first race saw McGriff play the national anthem on trombone, then in the race fall six laps off the pace to finish last. He would not return for the second race, leaving Bill Kann as the last-place starter based on qualifying results. Last soon fell into Iwuji’s hands, as he stalled on lap nine due to a faulty fuel pump and went to the garage to repair it, coming back out late in the race in time to complete 40 laps.

Takuma Koga finished 16th under power, 48 laps down, the victim of an opening-lap crash. Gannis wound up 15th after getting involved in a Lap 73 crash with Dodson. Todd Souza was the last car not involved in any incident, finishing three laps down. Kann rounded out the top five, a lap down.
Patriot Motorsports Group driver Kody Vanderwal led final practice and wound up winning Race 1 in dominating fashion. He only led five laps in the second race, but they were the final five. He finished first of five PMG cars entered in the race.

17) #36-Jesse Iwuji / 40 laps / running
16) #11-Takuma Koga / 52 laps / running
15) #08-Cassie Gannis / 72 laps / crash
14) #13-Todd Souza / 97 laps / running
13) #18-Bill Kann / 99 laps / running

1st) Patriot Motorsports Group (2)
2nd) Bill McAnally Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (2)
2nd) Toyota (1)


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