An impressive driver roster has already been penciled in for the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season. While the season opener is less than two weeks away at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida and an official entry list isn't expected from NASCAR until closer to the event, Speed51.com has assembled a list of the drivers competing either full-time or on a limited basis in 2014.
This list was put together using team and driver announcements on social media, websites or through team press releases, plus some phone calls from 51 staff to teams and drivers. There could be some additions that surprise all of us when the pit gates open at New Smyrna on February 16th.
Turner Motorsports (5)
TSM really reloaded the gun after a shuffle of drivers out of their organization. Defending champion Dylan Kwasniewski is now in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for 2014 showing that winners can and will advance in the TSM program.
Ben Rhodes and Brandon Jones return as the only TSM drivers from a year ago and will now run a full time schedule after part time efforts with the team last year. Cameron Hayley rides the pipeline from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West with hopes of capturing the crown the way Kwasniewski did in 2013. Scott Heckert comes over from B.J. McLeod Motorsports, and with a year under his belt the Connecticut youngster could be a weekly contender. Kaz Grala is the raw rookie, but we expect that he will fit in well after proving to be a quick learner in Late Model Stocks. This is one of several teams that could produce a champion and a rookie of the year with different drivers.
Hattori Racing Enterprises (2)
David Garbo Jr.
HRE moves back to a two car operation as Pulliam and Garbo team up to each run for Rookie of the Year honors. Pulliam will have eyes on him as he runs for K&N points while also gunning for his third straight NASCAR Whelen All American Series crown. Garbo is another graduate of the Late Model Stock ranks with a number of wins under his belt. Brett Moffitt, who is thus far without a ride in 2014, was a weekly threat for victories and championships in his stint at HRE and the team was strong as a two-car effort a few years back with Moffitt and Sergio Pena, so they are capable of giving Pulliam and Garbo solid machines this season.
Ken Schrader Racing (1)
Matt Tifft - Part Time
Tifft is on a limited schedule out KSR's shop. The Midwest shoe competed for B.J. McLeod Motorsports last year and showed some potential, but a change of scenery could continue to push him further into the forefront of the racing scene. KSR won the 2012 K&N finale at Rockingham with Tyler Reddick.
Bill McAnally Racing (2)
Cole Custer – Part Time
Patrick Staropoli - Part Time
Custer is already a proven winner at Iowa and New Hampshire and will run selected races. With a part time NASCAR Trucks schedule planned, Custer should only be running on the bigger tracks. Drake comes into the stock car scene after a stout stint in Midgets. Staropoli will look to make the most of his limited starts that will come on the back of winning a contest last year for a ride with Michael Waltrip Racing.
Ben Kennedy Racing (1)
A team that showed huge improvement in 2013 sees their point man, Ben Kennedy, move to the NASCAR Trucks scene. But his replacement Kenzie Ruston proved to be more than up to the task of running up front in a solid rookie campaign. If both team and driver improve from 2013 to 2014, Ruston could make history as the first K&N female winner.
Rev Racing (5)
Mackena Bell (Partnership Team)
This is perhaps the best team yet out of the Rev Racing stables. Gifford, Suárez and Peña have all won races and Jay Beasley comes in as a rookie after winning the Bullring at Las Vegas late model title in 2013. Kyle Larson won this team their first championship in 2012 and they will contend again in 2014. Bell will be back as a partnership team in the same number as last year.
NEMCO Motorsports (1)
John Hunter Nemechek - Part Time
Nemechek has a full plate of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events and Super Late Model races on his schedule, but the second-generation driver has plans to at very least compete at Virginia International Raceway this season.
Bassett Racing (2)
Ronnie Bassett Jr.
Dillon Bassett - Part Time Planned
Bassett is ready for a full step up into K&N ranks. He was 10th a Loudon in only his second start last year and his penchant for tire conservation could come into play at some of the more abrasive surfaces on the schedule. Don't blink too fast as the Bassetts will double at season's end with younger brother Dillon, the 2013 UARA champion, planning some starts.
Hill Bros. Racing (1)
Winner at Dover and with Andy Santerre and many of the same crew members that helped Corey LaJoie win a bunch of races in 2012, HIll could be a weekly contender. Hill has made starts at several venues and he’s geared for a run after maturing as a racer.
Clint King Motorsports (1)
A former Pro Challenge National Champion who will be a contender for Rookie of the Year honors. King Has made 10 starts in ARCA with four top five's and eight top 10's.
Cunningham Motorsports (1)
Anderson Bowen - Part Time
Bowen was an Iowa K&N pole winner in June so teams need to keep an eye out when Cunningham Motorsports unloads at the track. They have four races scheduled for now, but that could change. He will be at Bristol to start.
Grimm Racing (1)
The K&N veteran has finished no worse than seventh in points since 2008 but MacDonald wants to return to his winning ways. They did step up their top five output in 2013 and have logged 20 top 10's in the last 28 races.
Team Acroplate (1)
A big step up in 2014 has Kostecki contending for Rookie of the Year honors after three starts in 2013. Kostecki has big track experience after winning Rockingham in a Late Model a year ago and will have a lot of veteran experience in crew chief Doug George atop the pit box.
Little Motorsports (1)
Little told Speed51.com at the banquet that the team will be run in-house this season and they are going for a championship. The 2013 Rookie of the Year was impressive at times with Coulter Motorsports last year and showed speed at different types of tracks from speedways to bullrings.
NTS Motorsports (2)
Under the radar just a bit, but Gaulding has the full schedule on his website and a full year of K&N racing under his belt. He won Phoenix's K&N West finale on the final lap with a tap and run, but he'll have a lot more to beat in the East if he's going to be a champion. Brennan Newberry joins this team after several strong runs out west. He won three poles including two at Iowa.
BJ McLeod Motorsports
Seeking a Driver for Five Races
We know several teams are seeking funding for racing, but as a start up team McLeod Motorsports guided Scott Heckert to a pair of top 10's and 17th in the final standings and 100% rookie team. We home to see them at select shows in 2014.
Drivers who have not yet announced plans for 2014 that competed in multiple starts in 2013. These drivers may very well be in action in select races or more:
Brandon Gdovic, Jeremy Burns, Cale Conley, Austin Dyne, Sam Hunt, CJ Faison, Brandon McReynolds, Michael McGuire, Austin Wayne Self, John Salemi, Trey Hutchens, Dale Quarterley, Dylan Presnell, Harrison Rhodes, Enrique Contreras III, Chuck Buchanan, Jr., Preston Peltier, Zak Hausler