ALTON, Va. — Audio and story by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Getty Images for NASCAR photo —
J.J. Haley had the track record on Saturday at VIRginia International Raceway for all of about 10 minutes on Saturday, before his HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks teammate Scott Heckert “defended his territory” and took it back.
Heckert took his No. 34 Project Lifesaver Chevrolet around the 2.25-mile North Course at VIR in 1 minute, 27.325 seconds (92.757 mph) to claim his fifth career Coors Light Pole Award in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and second straight at the Alton, Va. road course.
Heckert was the only driver in the final group of qualifiers to post only one lap during the 10-minute open session, but that was all he needed to establish himself as the car to beat once again at VIR.
“Our race car’s pretty good,” the 21-year-old Connecticut native said after qualifying. “I think this may be the best car we’ve had all season, to be honest. When J.J. went out and obliterated my track record I had to go and [defend] my territory, take it back. It was a pleasure to drive for one lap, and I’m sure it will be that way in the race this afternoon. We just have to be careful and not use up what we’ve got too soon.”
Heckert says that track position will be very important in determining the players for the end of the 55-lap Biscuitville 125 (4:30 p.m. ET).
“There’s really only two braking zones, and you can pass there, but anywhere else it’s really tough. If you don’t put yourself in position to pass in one of those spots, you’ll be stuck behind someone for a long time here.”
After posting the fastest lap in final practice, Nick Drake followed up his early show of speed with the second-fastest lap in qualifying, touring the course in 1:27.765 seconds (92.292) in the No. 15 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota.
Haley landed third after being beat out by both Heckert and Drake, his best lap of 1:27.832 (92.222) not enough to claim the pole in the end.
“Someone should look into [why the 34 is so good here],” Haley quipped. “The way I see it is it’s going to be a pretty good race for second. That’s about all I can do when he starts on pole and went a half second quicker in qualifying trim. We’ll just go out and see what 55 laps brigs us later today, and who knows — maybe it’ll fall in our lap.”
Austin Hill (1:27.905/92.145) and Dalton Sargeant (1:28.282/91.751) rounded out the fast five in qualifying, followed by Kaz Grala, points leader William Byron, Rico Abreu, Devon Amos and New England invader Dale Quarterley.
The front four qualifiers were all underneath Heckert’s old track record time of 88.243 seconds (91.792 mph), set in qualifying last fall.
Green flag for the Biscuitville 125 is slated for 4:30 p.m. local time, with tape delay coverage airing Thusday, Sept. 3 (7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network).
Audio with pole winner Scott Heckert:
Audio with third-quick J.J. Haley:
RESULTS: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East; Coors Light Pole Qualifying; VIRginia International Raceway; August 29, 2015
- Scott Heckert
- Nick Drake
- J.J. Haley
- Austin Hill
- Dalton Sargeant
- Kaz Grala
- William Byron
- Rico Abreu
- Devon Amos
- Dale Quarterley
- Brandon Gdovic
- Kenzie Ruston
- Sergio Pena
- Collin Cabre
- David Garbo Jr.
- Zeb Pixley
- Christian Celaya
- Charles Buchanan Jr.
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. He is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: firstname.lastname@example.org