How tough is the competition in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this year? Just ask rookie Nick Drake.
The 18-year-old from Mooresville, North Carolina is locked in a tight battle for a top-10 spot in the overall championship standings – as well as close competition in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. While Ben Rhodes has a commanding lead in both categories, the challenge behind him is fierce.
Drake, who drives the No. 15 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota for Bill McAnally Racing, hopes to gain ground on his competition when the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East visits Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway on Saturday for the JEGS 150.
Tied for eighth in points in the championship standings, Drake is right in the middle of a close points battle among the top drivers in the series – with the 10 drivers in second through 11th separated by less than 40 points. Drake – with 318 – is just two points out of seventh, 18 out of sixth, 21 back of two drivers tied for fourth, 33 out of third and 36 out of second.
The competition for recognition among the freshman class is also close. Thirteen points separate the five drivers in second through sixth in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. Drake is in third, six points out of second, but just two points ahead of fourth.
Drake, who will be making his first start on the third-mile oval at Columbus, is coming off a tremendous performance at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday in which he nearly captured his first career series win. He has one pole, three top fives and five top 10s in 10 series starts this season. He had a career-best second-place finish overall in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway in May.
This will be the fourth visit by the series to Columbus Motor Speedway. With a Toyota going to Victory Lane in all three previous series races at Columbus, Drake hopes to extend the string of wins for the nameplate this year.