AVONDALE, Ariz. – Four drivers remain in contention for the championship as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West heads to Arizona this week to decide the title in the season finale at Phoenix Int’l Raceway with the Casino Arizona 50 on Saturday.
In one of the closest four-way battles in series history, just 30 points separate the top four drivers in the championship standings.
Second-year driver Derek Thorn leads with a 16-point margin over series veteran Greg Pursley. Cameron Hayley is third in the standings, 18 points out of the lead – while Michael Self is fourth, still with a mathematical shot at the title.
Thorn, of Lakeport, Calif., can capture the crown in the Bob Bruncati-owned No. 6 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford by finishing 11th or better, regardless where the other three contenders finish. In five series starts at PIR, Thorn has four top-five finishes – with a best finish of third in 2011.
Expect a strong challenge from Pursley, however. The 2011 series champion has maintained momentum in the last half of the season, scoring four wins in the past seven races in the No. 26 GPM/Star Nursery/Real Water Ford. Pursley – a former Southern Californian who now calls Parker, Ariz., home – has three wins, four poles and seven top-fives in 10 starts at the one-mile venue that he considers his home track.
Hayley, meanwhile, has a series leading average finish of 4.57 in 14 races this year in the No. 24 Cabinets By Hayley/GPM Ford. The 17-year-old from Calgary, Alberta, has two top fives in four Phoenix starts – including a runner-up in the season opener to Pursley, his teammate at Gene Price Motorsports. Hayley and Pursley have swapped spots back and forth between second and third in points three times in the past three races.
While Self has a lot of ground to make up, trailing the leader by 30 points; he still has a shot at the crown if the top three falter. The Park City, Utah driver – who won the season finale at Phoenix a year ago – will be in car owner Jim Offenbach’s familiar No. 21 RCR/Golden Gate Meat Chevrolet.
The Phoenix race is the 15th and final event in 2013 for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, as the West’s oldest stock car circuit wraps up its 60th season.