Patient Benjamin Scores Big At Greenville-Pickens

Kyle Benjamin (40) chases Dillon Bassett during Saturday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. (Chris Seelman Photo)

By lap 36, when the third caution of the night came out for a spinning Chase Cabre in turn two, it was a full five seconds from the top four back to Todd Gilliland in fifth.

Following successive spins by Iovino and John Holleman IV, a lap 57 restart saw Benjamin find the power-down he needed to surge back into the lead from the outside lane, dropping Bassett to second briefly before the latter retook command two laps later.

All the while, however, Gilliland was charging through the field, taking second away from Benjamin on lap 64 just before a turn three crash that swept up Holleman and Luis Rodriguez slowed the pace for the sixth time.

That set up a four-lap dash to the halfway break, which was ultimately stymied when Iovino ran into problems for the third time on the night, stalling in Turn 1 and sending the field down pit road for service.

Racing resumed with 73 to go and saw Benjamin get back to second, while Bassett led out front.

However, patience was the name of the game, as Benjamin bided his time until 55 to go before making his move. He quickly cut the deficit from nearly a second down to less than a car length, applying several taps to the back of Bassett’s Chevrolet in an effort to assume command.

Lap 107 appeared to thwart the efforts of the Easley native, as he got stuck on the outside of the lapped car of Chase Cabre, but two laps later Benjamin found a monstrous run on the inside of turn two to take the lead and never looked back from there.

Ronnie Bassett Jr. rebounded from the late scuffle with Purdy to finish second, and was apologetic for the contact after the race.

“I hated to get into him like that,” Bassett admitted. “We came off of Turn 2, and where the transition is over there … I started to wheelspin and my brother was on the outside. My right rear caught his left front, and when I caught his left front, I jerked it back to the left and I got up underneath him getting down into Turn 3. I felt like I was there and it was just a racing thing, but I hate the fact that I wrecked him for sure.”

The elder Bassett brother still leaves Greenville as the K&N East points leader, after a win and a runner-up finish in the first two races of the season.

“We were probably about a fifth-place car tonight and everybody got jumbled up there on that last restart,” he added. “A second-place finish is like a win to us. We’ll work on our race car and make it better for these short track races.”

Gilliland, Burton and Tyler Dippel completed the top five.

Garcia, who had a career night in his Rev Racing Toyota and rolled off second on the green-white-checkered restart, was turned around after contact with Reid Wilson on the final lap and ended up ninth.

Wilson crossed the line fifth, but was penalized to the end of the lead lap for rough driving and was scored 10th.

The finish:

Kyle Benjamin, Ronnie Bassett Jr., Todd Gilliland, Harrison Burton, Tyler Dippel, Dylan Murry, Hunter Baize, Dillon Bassett, Ruben Garcia, Reid Wilson, Chase Purdy, Luis Rodriguez Jr., Chase Cabre, Jay Beasley, Enrique Baca, John Holleman IV, Collin Cabre, Salvatore Iovino, J.P. Morgan.