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The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East began in April 1987 with the “Farmington Flyer,” Billy Clark of Farmington, Maine, scoring the initial victory at Oxford Plains Speedway. Within the first five races, Bobby Dragon and Kelly Moore had scored their first wins; both remained stalwarts on the circuit for two decades.
Joey Kourafas edged Chuck Bown by just five points to win that first title. Jamie Aube then began a run of three straight championships. The 1990 season saw two events which contributed greatly to the growth in prestige and recognition of what was then known as the NASCAR Busch North Series. On Labor Day weekend, the series staged its first stand-alone race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which had opened a few months earlier. Since that time, more than 50 such races have been contested at New England’s only superspeedway, making it the series’ flagship track. Today, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races during both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekends at NHMS, and also supports NASCAR’s premier series at Dover International Speedway.
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Also in 1990, Ricky Craven won rookie honors and swept to the title in 1991, setting records which have yet to be broken. In 1992, he was the NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year. He repeated that performance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 1995.
Other drivers would soon emerge from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East to attain national prominence, including Steve Park, Mike Stefanik and Andy Santerre. Equally impressive were several standout crew chiefs – Frank Stoddard, Richard “Slugger” Labbe, Greg Zipadelli and Pete Rondeau. The honor of champion, however, most often fell to one of the tough veterans who made the series their career; men like Dick McCabe, Dale Shaw, Kelly Moore, Dave Dion, and Brad Leighton. In an ironic twist, Santerre returned to win the 2002 title, and Stefanik came back as well to become his closest rival in 2003. Santerre matched Aube’s record of three straight titles in 2004 and went on to capture his fourth in 2005.
For 2003, what had become the Busch East Series and what had been the Winston West Series were united under a common rulebook – making possible the inaugural NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.). Despite racing on their rivals’ home turf, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East drivers captured 10 of the top 12 places in the inaugural Showdown and won the event’s team championship. They repeated the team title in 2004 and 2005. Mike Johnson, meanwhile, scored a victory in the Toyota All-Star Showdown in 2004. After finishing in the runner-up spot in 2004 and 2005, Matt Kobyluck took the win in 2006 and Joey Logano captured the victory in 2007. When the event moved to January for the 2009 edition, Kobyluck became the first competitor to reach Victory Lane twice in the Toyota All-Star Showdown. Logano followed suit by winning a thrilling head-to-head battle with Sergio Pena in 2010.
The series ran under sponsorship from Camping World during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Kobyluck was crowned the 2008 NASCAR Camping World Series East champion and second-generation driver Ryan Truex captured the title the following season. Truex become just the second driver in series history, along with Logano, to earn Rookie of the Year honors and the championship in the same season.
For the 2010 season, K&N Engineering came on as the title sponsor for both the East and West series. With the stability of a seven-year sponsorship contract, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will continue to be NASCAR’s top developmental series.