Wednesday, July 25, 2018

K&N EAST: Vibration sidelines Dillon Bassett at Loudon

PHOTO: Eric Egnor
by William Soquet Guest Contributor

Dillon Bassett picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East career in Saturday evening’s United Site Services 70 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his #44 Universal Technical Institute Chevrolet fell out with a vibration after 51 of 70 laps.

The finish came in Bassett’s 44th career start, and was his first since the first South Boston Twin 100, five races ago.

Bassett is a member of arguably K&N East’s most old-school family, the Bassett clan. Brothers Dillon and Ronnie Jr. both race a full slate of K&N races under the tutelage of father Ronnie Sr. Each brother has one win in East competition, the younger Dillon winning in 2015 and the older Ronnie Jr. breaking through in 2017.

Much of this success wouldn't have happened if it weren’t for a generous benefactor - not a sponsor, but a fellow competitor. After a shop fire destroyed all the team’s equipment in 2016, fellow team owner David Calabrese, owner of Calabrese Motorsports, lent the brothers equipment. The Bassett brothers missed five races in the 2016 season but soldiered on, piecing together a full 2017 season. Dillon has shown promise in 2018 with a top-five at Langley and a runner-up finish last week at Thompson, but has also been towards the back of the field on occasion, getting caught up in a large crash at South Boston, forcing him to last in the first Twin 100.

The entry list showed a promising 21 cars, up from previous low car counts. Once again, Bill Hoff withdrew, leaving 20 cars to duke it out. Part-time efforts of Spencer Davis and Brandon McReynolds both showed up, as did three Bill McAnally Racing cars and an assortment of part-time teams and independents like a Jefferson Pitts Racing entry driven by JR Motorsports late model driver Sam Mayer, one-time Truck competitor Trey Hutchens, and Reid Lanpher, making his series debut in a new #59 entry.

Both practice sessions found Mexican driver Abraham Calderon in last, about 1.6 seconds behind leaders Brandon McReynolds in Practice 1 and Tyler Ankrum in Practice 2. Calderon also laid town the slowest lap of the time trial session to set the field but he did not start there. Hailie Deegan and Ronnie Bassett Jr. were listed last and next-to-last because their qualifying times were disallowed after failing post-qualifying technical inspection. Lanpher and Cole Rouse also went to the back for unapproved adjustments, pushing Calderon up to 15th on the grid.

Live timing wasn’t immediately available due to the previously-run NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event. When live timing was available, Calderon was once again last, running 26 seconds behind the leader on Lap 29. He was the first to lose a lap a bit later. Enter Dillon Bassett into the last-place battle. A seemingly routine unscheduled stop turned into a terminal vibration problem, and the car retired 19 laps from the finish.

Bassett wound up being the only retiree from the race. Calderon, a former NASACR Peak Mexico champion, finished 19th. He later was quoted by the Mexico Series (translated from Spanish) saying that the weekend was frustrating due to a lack of speed in the car and also compounded with chassis issues contributing to the troubles. Trey Hutchens, back running part-time for a sixth year, finished eighteenth. Sam Mayer and Hailie Deegan both struggled to live up to the hype surrounding their entries and rounded out the Bottom Five, both one lap down.

20) #44-Dillon Bassett / 51 laps / vibration
19) #55-Abraham Calderon / 69 laps / running
18) #14-Trey Hutchens / 69 laps / running
17) #27-Sam Mayer / 69 laps / running
16) #19-Hailie Deegan / 69 laps / running

1st) Chevrolet (5)
2nd) Toyota (4)

1st) Hunt-Sellers Racing, Ronnie Bassett Sr. (2)
2nd) Bill McAnally Racing, Chuck Buchanan Jr., Carroll Motorsports, Danny Watts Racing, Ace Motorsports (1)


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