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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Greg Pursley spoiled Derek Thorn's quest for two consecutive NASCAR K&N Pro Series West wins at NAPA Speedway, taking the victory in the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by NAPA AutoCare Centers on Saturday night.
Pursley, the 2011 series champion, now sets his sights on spoiling Thorn's quest for a series title.
Saturday’s victory marked Pursley’s fourth win of the season and 17th career series victory. With the win, the driver of the No. 26 Gene Price Motorsports/Star Nursery/Real Water Ford moved from third in points to second – 20 markers behind Thorn, with three races remaining.
In an event in which nearly all the leaders opted to fall back early in the event, Pursley dropped from the front to just inside the top 10 and Thorn faded back to ride in fourth. Their strategy opened the door for others to move to the front – with series veteran Carl Harr leading 51 laps and series newcomer JD White pacing six circuits.
Pursley appeared to start his charge forward just past the midway point of the race. He was up to seventh by Lap 85, fourth by Lap 100, third by Lap 116 and into second a lap after that. Using a strong inside move on the 128th lap he was able to charge by Thorn, who had won the Coors Light Pole earlier in the day.
“This is a really abrasive track and it really takes a lot of patience and a lot of tire saving,” Pursley said. “So we got up there and led a lap and fell back to about eighth or ninth. It was hard to have the patience to not go up there and want to race them, but we stuck to our game plan and stuck to our times.
“We started getting a little bit more and little bit more to the front,” he said. “Once we got to the front, we figured we could stay up there and maintain. We had about a 10-lap run there at the end and let ‘er go. All in all it was a great night.”
Pursley pulled away after a late race restart and won by a margin of 1.317 seconds.
Thorn had to settle for second.
“We all kind of dropped back quite a ways, trying to save our stuff,” Thorn said. “This place is so abrasive. So we all slowed down. It was kind of a chess match there, wondering what Pursley had, what (Eric) Holmes had. We made a decision to go and try to lead a few laps, thinking I could get the most laps led (bonus point). I saved my stuff while doing it, but Pursley just had a little better car than we did at the end. It’s one of those days where we made the most of it and come home second in a good points race.”
Pursley’s teammate at Gene Price Motorsports, Cameron Hayley, finished third. Eric Holmes, making his 100th career series start, was fourth - with Michael Self taking fifth. Tyler Cuzick, Dylan Lupton, Chase Briscoe, Carl Harr and John Wood completed the top 10.
Thorn leads the standings with 510 points, followed by Pursley at 490, Hayley at 489, Self at 481 and Lupton at 440. Rounding out the top 10 are Cuzick at 398, C. Harr at 394, Daryl Harr at 375, Giles Thornton at 363 and Wood at 358.
The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule is the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., on Oct. 12.
Greg Pursley's victory on Saturday night moves the veteran into second place in the point standings with three races to go in the 2013 season. J. Victor Decolongon III/Getty Images for NASCAR