After 12 races of going in circles, drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will be turning left and right as the circuit heads to Watkins Glen (New York) International for the Bully Hill Vineyards 125 on Friday.
The event on the winding 2.45-mile track is the first of two back-to-back road course races on this year’s schedule and the second of three consecutive weeks of racing for the series. It marks the 15th visit by the series to the historic venue, but the first since 2009.
BMR has three entries headed to Watkins Glen – with drivers Cole Custer and Nick Drake being joined by Ryan Reed, who is in his rookie season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. It will be the first visit to the Glen for all three, who each look to further develop their road racing skills.
Custer and Drake came into the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East after racing sprint cars on dirt track ovals. Custer raced in the series as a 15-year-old rookie last year and Drake is a rookie this season. Reed’s racing background, meanwhile, includes 14 starts in the ARCA Racing Series, rookie honors in the Super Late Model division at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway and a Legends division track title at Irwindale.
All three drivers competed this past weekend at Iowa Speedway. Custer and Drake finished third and 16th, respectively, in the K&N East-West combination race on Friday – while Reed finished 15th in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday.
Custer drives BMR’s No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS/HAAS Automation entry in select events in the East and West divisions of the K&N Pro Series this year. The Ladera Ranch, California driver – who was selected for the NASCAR Next program that spotlights NASCAR’s rising stars – won the K&N West season opener at Phoenix International Raceway in February and scored a K&N East victory at Richmond (Virginia) International Raceway in April.
He has three wins, two poles, seven top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 18 career starts in the K&N East. In addition, he has one win and two poles in four starts in the K&N West, including a 12th-place finish earlier this year on the road course at Sonoma (California) Raceway.
Custer is also racing a limited schedule this year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – where in June he became the youngest driver in the series to win a pole.
Drake pilots the No. 15 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota for BMR. The 18-year-old from Mooresville, North Carolina, has one pole, three top-five and six top-10 finishes in 12 starts this season. He is second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points and eighth in the overall championship standings. His best finish was a second-place overall finish in the first K&N East-West combination race at Iowa in May.
Reed – whose father, Mark, won the rookie title and finished second in the overall standings in the K&N West in 2001 – will be behind the wheel of the No. 99 Drive To Stop Diabetes presented by Lilly Diabetes entry for BMR at Watkins Glen. It will mark the fourth career K&N East start for the Bakersfield, California native, who turns 21 next week.
Reed was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 17, initially putting his racing future in doubt. He went on to found the non-profit organization, Ryan’s Mission, to promote diabetes awareness and joined efforts with the American Diabetes Association.
As a rookie in the Nationwide Series this year, he is ninth in the championship standings with 20 starts.