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K&N Pro Series West Overview & History

NASCAR IMC
January 1, 2015 - 4:38pm

OVERVIEW
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series, which includes the East and the West, is the top step in NASCAR’s developmental ladder before drivers progress to the three national series.

Since 2007, NASCAR K&N Pro Series veterans have made a significant impact at the national level, including 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne, 2015 Daytona 500 champion Joey Logano, and 2014 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott, alogn with Ryan Blaney, Austin and Ty Dillon, Kyle Larson, Ryan Truex, Darrell Wallace Jr., and others.

Kevin Harvick, the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and 2007 Daytona 500 champion, won the West championship in 1998.

The series introduces NASCAR fans to the next generation of stars, and the diverse mix of short tracks, road courses, and national series speedways appeals to a broad range of motorsports fans.  With identical series racing throughout the country, the K&N Pro Series provides a cost-effective opportunity for young drivers to gain valuable experience and exposure to highly competitive racing.

CHAMPIONS | YEAR-BY-YEAR TOP 10

CAREER VICTORIES | CAREER POLES | MOST POPULAR DRIVER | SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR | ALL-TIME RACE RESULTS | SERIES RECORDS | MISCELLANEOUS WIN RECORDS | FIRST-TIME WINNERS: BY YEAR

THE CAR
• The chassis is similar to the Generation 4 (1992-2006) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series body.
• The cars produce 625 HP at 8000 RPM, as compared to 650 @ 8,200 for NASCAR XFINITY Series and 850 @ 9,000 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
• A new Five Star body was introduced prior to the 2015 season. Built with aerodynamics, safety and cost-effectiveness in mind, the body will replace existing steel-shelled K&N cars with a design that’s 35 pounds lighter and miles ahead of the competition when it comes to ease of repair. The secret is in performance and durability of the bolt-together flange design, which eliminates the need to cut and weld together body panels or entire body segments. When a panel is damaged, teams simply bolt on a new one.

BACKGROUND
• The NASCAR K&N Pro Series continues to crown champions through separate schedules on the East and West Coast.
• The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East originated as the NASCAR Busch North Series in 1987, while the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West traces its lineage back to the Pacific Coast Late Models in 1954 and the NASCAR Winston West Series.
• The optional “spec” engine (introduced in 2006) and composite body help teams control costs while providing them the opportunity to advance from their hometown short tracks to the next level.

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The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West history is tightly interwoven with that of the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Here, Hershel McGriff, center, chats with NASCAR Hall of Fame members Bill France Jr., left, and Richard Petty, right. File Photo

 

K&N PRO SERIES WEST HISTORY
• NASCAR lowered the minimum age for competitors to 16 in 2007 and 15 in 2011, sparking an influx of talented young newcomers and making the series a proving ground for "Tomorrow's Stars Today."
• The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West can be traced back to 1954, when NASCAR came to the West Coast and began sanctioning the Pacific Coast Late Model circuit. The series visited tracks such as Oakland (Calif.) Speedway; Balboa Speedway in San Diego, Calif.; Bay Meadows Speedway in San Mateo, Calif.; and Carrell Speedway in Gardena, Calif.
• Nine races were on the series schedule in 1954, with the first event being on the half-mile Oakland Speedway, which was known as “The Oakland Wall.” While Hershel McGriff won the pole position, it was Dick Rathmann who came through the field to win that first race in a 1952 Hudson.
• Through the 1960s and 1970s the series visited fewer and fewer dirt tracks. The final race on a dirt track was in 1979. The circuit has continued to evolve, with various changes taking place during the 1980s and early 1990s.
• Through its years, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West has had several titles. In addition to being known as the Pacific Coast Late Models it was called Grand National West, Winston West Grand National, and the NASCAR Winston West Series. In 2003, it was joined with what had been known as the Busch North Series and together they comprise what is now known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
• Competition for drivers has stretched beyond the United States, meanwhile, with racers from the West Coast participating in NASCAR events in Australia in 1988 and in Japan in 1996, 1997 and 1998. And in 1999 the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West became the first in NASCAR to hold a championship race outside of North America – with the season finale at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.
• The names of many talented drivers, meanwhile, have been associated with the West Coast division through its history. In terms of overall victories, Jack McCoy leads with 54, followed by Ray Elder with 47 and Hershel McGriff with 35. When it comes to championships, Elder leads with six (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974 and 1975), followed by Bill Schmitt (1977, 1979, 1989 and 1990) and Roy Smith (1980, 1981, 1982 and 1988), each with four.
• Elder’s team also made a significant mark in the racing world by becoming the only West Coast team to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (then Grand National) race. Elder won the Motor Trend Riverside 500 on Jan. 10, 1971 at Riverside International Raceway and a year later won the Golden State 400 on June 18, 1972 at Riverside.
• Notable competitors in the early days included Lloyd Dane – who won the first championship in 1954 and two more in 1956 and '57 – as well as Danny Letner, Parnelli Jones, Marvin Porter, Bill Amick, Eddy Gray, Scott Cain and Ron Hornaday Sr. Other talented drivers included Chuck Bown, Jim Insolo, Jim Robinson, Rick Carelli, Derrike Cope and Chad Little.
• In recent years, Eric Holmes won three championships (2006, '08 and '10) and Greg Pursley claimed the championship in 2011 and 2014. Dylan Kwasniewski became the youngest champion in series history at 17 in 2012.

 

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Bill Schmitt (73) leads Hershel McGriff in a 1986 West race. NASCAR Archives