|Gannis with a young fan|
PHOTO: Cassie Gannis Instagram
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor
Cassie Gannis picked up the 1st last-place finish of her NASCAR K&N Pro Series West career in Saturday night’s NAPA Auto Parts 175 at Colorado National Speedway after her #36 Tough Tested / Patriot Motorsports Group Chevrolet fell out with rear end problems after 154 of 175 laps. The finish came in her 11th series start.
Gannis, a 27-year-old Phoenix native, has overcome many obstacles throughout her racing career. In her teens, she dealt with dyslexia and asthma, and at 17 had surgery to correct her scoliosis. At 20, she made a venture into the K&N Pro Series West in the 2011 season, making three starts. The next season, she made five starts, winning the series’ Most Popular Driver award.
Fast-forward to 2015, which looked to be promising from the outset. She attempted the ARCA race at Daytona with Carter 2 Motorsports, but wound up 42nd on the speed charts in a race that took 40 cars. At the other end of the season, Gannis attempted her Truck debut with Mike Harmon Racing, but wound up last of the 36 trucks in qualifying, leaving her on the outside looking in. She disappeared from large-scale racing until earlier this year, when she teamed up with John Wood, Jesse Iuwji and Patriot Motorsports Group to drive the team’s #08 entry in the Tucson Twin 100s.
After finishing sixteenth and fifteenth in a crash-shortened Second 100, Gannis returned in the #36, vacated by Iwuji for the first time since he started running full-time in 2016. That same weekend, Iwuji was in Michigan for the ARCA race, where his run ended early after transmission failure. Gannis, meanwhile, would try to keep the #36 from last, where it had finished twice in the opening four races of the season.
Colorado’s entry list showed only sixteen cars, on pace to tie Orange Show for the least cars this year. Soon after, the #77 Performance Motorsports entry withdrew without ever naming a driver, leaving only fifteen cars to race. Takuma Koga, once again in the #11 machine for John Krebs, anchored first practice with a lap of 18.084, a relatively competitive seven tenths off the leader. Koga, however, picked up four-tenths in qualifying, outpacing Wood and Gannis, the latter of whom picked up less than a tenth from practice to qualifying. She later incurred a redundant tail-end penalty for unapproved adjustments before the green. Joining her at the back was Wood, sent to the back for missing the mandatory pre-race autograph session.
After a lap under green, Gannis was 3.8 seconds back of the leaders, still the last car on the track. She retired after 154 laps due to rear end problems, though none of the driver’s social media channels had any specific comment on the end of the race. None of NASCAR’s coverage regarding the race did, either.
Gannis wound up being the only attrition in the 175-lap race. Koga finished fourteenth, eight laps off the pace. Wood was seven laps in arrears in thirteenth, Todd Souza two down in twelfth and Rudy Vanderwal was the last car one lap down in eleventh to round out the Bottom Five.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
15) #36-Cassie Gannis / 154 laps / rear end
14) #11-Takuma Koga / 167 laps / running
13) #08-John Wood / 168 laps / running
12) #13-Todd Souza / 173 laps / running
11) #34-Rudy Vanderwal / 174 laps / running
2018 LASTCAR K&N WEST OWNERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Patriot Motorsports Group (4)
2nd) Bill McAnally Racing (1)
2018 LASTCAR K&N WEST MANUFACTURERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (4)
2nd) Toyota (1)
2018 LASTCAR K&N WEST DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP