GREENVILLE, S.C. — If ever there were a track for Chase Purdy to be excited about coming to during his rookie season on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, the half-mile Greenville-Pickens Speedway oval fits that description perfectly.
After all, it’s the place where Purdy launched his name into the forefront of the motorsports youth movement, winning nine times in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition last year en route to the South Carolina state championship and Jostens National Rookie of the Year honors.
Now, the 17-year-old Meridian, Mississippi native returns ‘home’ for his first race at NASCAR’s second-oldest weekly short track since moving on from late model stock cars and joining David Gilliland Racing late last summer.
Purdy said that the added confidence of going back to a track where he’s familiar and had speed in the past provides him some comfort as he jumps behind the wheel of his No. 17 Bama Buggies/Polaris Toyota.
“I’m looking forward to going back to a track I am really familiar with,” he explained. “I have had a lot of success there in the past and I’m hoping to hold that trend in the K&N car. It’s always nice to go somewhere you’ve been before, because it’s easier to just jump in and focus on what you need as a driver to be successful.”
With friend and quasi-teammate Todd Gilliland driving a similarly-prepared Toyota for Bill McAnally Racing in this weekend’s Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150, Purdy will have a wealth of information and a former West Series champion to lean on as he adapts to the bigger K&N cars.
However, he will have a new set of challenges to work through as well. Over the offseason, track promoter Anthony Anders spearheaded a project that saw several lanes of the racing groove in the corners milled and repaved, to alleviate issues from last season where the Greenville pavement was falling apart and delaying the racing program.
Purdy noted that the new surface will change the way that the K&N cars drive at the historic half-mile, as compared to anything he’s driven there in past races.
“With the recent resurfacing, I think the way you drive off the corner is going to be very different because we used to struggle with that a lot at Greenville,” said Purdy. “I think the race pace will be a little faster, but even though it’s new asphalt we’ll still have to work on saving some tire for the end of the race. To do that, we’ll approach every lap the same and work on exiting off the corner while keeping the car and rear tires driving straight.”
The teenager finished eighth in the K&N East season-opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in February, despite battling adversity and handling issues throughout the race.
Saturday’s Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 is set for a 7 p.m. start time, with tape-delayed television coverage to be aired April 15 on NBC Sports Network.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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