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Jesse Little Shines, Ben Rhodes Stumbles in New Hampshire

Jesse Little Shines, Ben Rhodes Stumbles in New Hampshire

by July 12, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: NASCAR

LOUDON, N.H. — He may have only led one lap on Friday afternoon, but what mattered is that it was the last one.

Jesse Little (Coulter Motorsports) earned his first-ever NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win by taking the checkered flag for the Granite State 100 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Little took advantage of a last-lap coming together by Nick Drake (BMR Racing) and Brandon Jones (Turner Scott Motorsports) – the then first-and-second place drivers – to grab the lead in the final corners of the race.

“Those last couple of laps I just went into defense mode,” Little said in his post-race press conference. “I was just starting to drive a lot lower and take a lower approach to the corner to keep Eddie [Macdonald] from being able to get underneath me. Once I started doing that, I immediately had a lot better grip and was able to put some room in between him and focus on the task in front of me.”

Little beat Eddie MacDonald (Grimm Racing), Cale Conley (Richard Childress Racing), Jay Beasley (Rev Racing), and Chad Finley (Chad Finley Racing) to the line by three tenths of a second to score his maiden victory in the K&N Pro Series.

Ben Rhodes (Turner Scott Motorsports) led the race to the green flag from the pole position and would lead the first two laps before being overtaken by Finley on Lap 3. Rhodes would retake the lead on Lap 10 and would hold it through the first caution which came out on Lap 19 due to Rev Racing’s Daniel Suarez having an accident in Turn 1.

Once the race returned to green-flag conditions, Gray Gaulding (NTS Motorsports) would pounce on the lead and hold it for 53 consecutive laps. Gaulding’s lead would stretch across three cautions that flew on Lap 30, Lap 43, and Lap 51 which was for the halfway break. As the race resumed, Gaulding would lose the lead on Lap 79 after having an accident between Turns 3 and 4; Gaulding’s mishap would allow Jones to take the lead.

Jones’ would lead the field back to green but would only get two green laps in before another caution would fly for Brennan Newberry’s (NTS Motorsports) accident in Turn 4. Jones would be unable to hold the lead for long after taking the green flag on Lap 89;¬†Drake would grab the lead from Jones and would hold possession of it through another caution that occurred on Lap 93 when Ryan Gifford (Rev Racing), Mackena Bell (Rev Racing), and Scott Heckert (Turner Scott Motorsports) would come together in an accident in Turn 2.

A mad scramble for the lead would occur once the race returned to green-flag racing on Lap 95 with Drake and Jones battling hard for the lead. The two leaders would collide in Turn 3 on the final lap, sending Little on his way to the win over Whelen Modified veteran MacDonald.

Points leader Rhodes would fade late in the race and would finish in the 22nd position, ending his bid for his fifth straight K&N Pro Series East win. Rhodes’ points lead would not shrink by much due to contenders Gaulding and Cameron Hayley (Turner Scott Motorsports) having their own issues during the race. Rhodes will take a 62-point lead to next Saturday’s JEGS 150 at the Columbus Motor Speedway.

Top-10 Finishers of the Granite State 100

  1. 97 – Jesse Little – Chevrolet – Coulter Motorsports
  2. 71 – Eddie MacDonald – Chevrolet – Grimm Racing
  3. 47 – Cale Conley – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
  4. 42 – Jay Beasley – Toyota – Rev Racing
  5. 29 – Chad Finley – Ford – Chad Finley Racing
  6. 04 – Ronnie Bassett Jr. – Toyota – Bassett Racing
  7. 22 – Austin Hill – Ford – Austin Hill Racing
  8. 20 – Gray Gaulding – Chevrolet – NTS Motorsports
  9. 43 – Brodie Kostecki – Toyota – Team Arcoplate
  10. 31 – Kaz Grala – Chevrolet – Turner Scott Motosports

Top-10 in the Drivers’ Standings after Round 10 of 16

  1. 41 – Ben Rhodes – 416 | Leader
  2. 20 – Gray Gaulding – 354 | -62
  3. 98 – Cameron Hayley – 350 | -66
  4. 33 – Brandon Jones – 339 | -77
  5. 97 – Jesse Little – 339 | -77
  6. 22 – Austin Hill – 337 | -79
  7. 04 – Ronnie Basset Jr. – 320 | -96
  8. 15 – Nick Drake – 318 | -98
  9. 96 – Kenzie Ruston – 318 | -98
  10. 31 – Kaz Grala – 316 | -100

 

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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