AVONDALE, Ariz. – Greg Pursley rolled to his third career win at Phoenix International Raceway Saturday, but the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West veteran didn’t get it without a fight from his new teammate.
Pursley led 56 laps, taking the lead back from Cameron Hayley on Lap 56 en route to winning the Talking Stick Resort 60. Hayley, 16, finished second to give Gene Price Motorsports a 1-2 finish.
“The race started out really good,” Pursley said. “I just tried to save my car to have something at the end. My car took about a lap to get going.”
Pursley was part of a three-way battle for the lead following one of the late restarts.
“The two kids tried to beat up on me on the restart,” he said. “Luckily, there on the end one, I knew if I could get next to him (Hayley) coming out of (Turn) 2 and run him down the back straightaway and stay next to him … I knew once I got in front of him, I wouldn’t look back. There was no saving anything at the end. We had a great car and I’m really proud of everyone at Gene Price Motorsports.”
Hayley was coming off a non-points victory in the K&N Pro Series portion of the UNOH Battle At The Beach two weeks ago at Daytona International Speedway. He is in his first year with the team, filling the seat vacated by 2012 West champion Dylan Kwasniewski.
“It was tons of fun racing Greg there at the end,” Hayley said. “He’s a great driver. I love to race hard with him like that. We raced each other clean. It was a really good race. My Cabinets By Hayley Ford Fusion was just on rails right from the beginning. We got a little tight there towards the end.”
Hayley lost the lead to his GPM teammate just after the final restart.
The victory moved Pursley into a tie with Richard Petty for second on the West wins list at Phoenix, one behind Ken Schrader. Earlier Saturday, Pursley won the Coors Light Pole Award and broke his own track record with a lap of 26.876 seconds (133.949 mph).
Michael Self, who won at Phoenix in November, finished third. Pursley, Hayley and Self briefly went three-wide on a Lap 54 restart before Pursley gained it back when another caution came out.
“When the opportunity presents itself, you’ve got to take it,” Self said of his charge for the lead. “We had an opening, so we did everything we could there. I think maybe a couple more green flag laps and we might have been able to make something of it. We just didn’t have the short-run car that we needed.”
Derek Thorn and Sergio Pena finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Gray Gaulding was sixth, followed by DJ Kennington, Brett Thompson, Brandon McReynolds and Taylor Cuzick.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West returns to the track May 4 at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway.