It was a two-horse race for the Armed Forces 150 checkered flag, and in the end Greg Pursley came out on top of David Mayhew in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West action at Kern County Raceway Park.
Pursley, from Newhall, Calif., led the first 113 laps from his pole position, but the bulk of those were with Mayhew right in his rearview. Mayhew finally edged ahead on Lap 114 and set sail for what would have been his third-consecutive victory, but a late-race caution changed everything.
On Lap 136, the caution came out for a stalled car. On the ensuing Lap 142 restart, Mayhew and Pursley waged a side-by-side battle that figured to go all the way to the checkered flag, but as the pair came through Turn 2 on Lap 146 the slowed car of Bill Kann was in Mayhew’s line and he had to put on the brakes to avoid contact.
The evasive action dropped Mayhew to fourth in the moment, and Pursley cruised for the final four circuits in the No. 26 GPM/Star Nursery/Real Water Ford to his 19th career victory.
“I got alongside David after the restart with 10 to go and I thought we had him,” said Pursley. “There was a car that spun up in two and there was no caution. He went high and had to check up. I went low and was able to get by. We came out of that with the lead and on to the checkered flag.”
Understandably, Mayhew’s point of view was different from Pursley’s.
“We had a car turned around in the front of the field. I expected the caution flag,” he said. “We don’t race through that. I’m at a loss on why the yellow didn’t fly.”
For Pursley, it was his first win of the season and first since winning at the Kern County track at the end of last season.
“It was another great battle with Mayhew and it was good to come out on top,” he said. “We hadn’t won since we were here last year. We’ve had good finishes all season and I hope we can continue to build the momentum.”
Mayhew, who eventually finished third, came into the night with two straight wins and was the crowd favorite at his home track.
“It’s disappointing, but it was another good finish,” said Mayhew. “It could have been worse, so we’ll keep moving forward.”
Dylan Lupton ended up with a runner-up finish – a season-best for last season’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
"A lot of things worked in our favor tonight and we capitalized,” said the NASCAR Next driver. “We tried to stay on the outside all night on the restarts and that worked out for us and then the thing at the end with Mayhew let us get up into second.”
Brandon McReynolds and Jesse Little – a pair of NASCAR Next competitors – brought home the top five while James Bickford, Giles Thornton, Jamie Krzysik, Anthony Giannone and Christopher Wahl completed the top 10.
Pursley is now tied with Bill Schmitt for seventh on the K&N Pro Series West all-time wins list. Earlier in the day he moved into eighth on the series’ career poles list with his 18th. He also won the series’ inaugural event at Kern County in October 2013.
In the championship standings, Pursley increased his lead over Mayhew to 18 points with Lupton, McReynolds and Thornton following closely.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will return to action on Saturday, June 21 with the Carneros 200 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway for the first of two road course events for the series.