Lupton got his wish, taking advantage of a late-race caution to edge Greg Pursley by .194 seconds in the NAPA Auto Parts/Toyota 150. It was the first K&N series victory for Lupton, who ended the season with 12 top-10 finishes in 15 starts and was named the series Rookie of the Year.
“It was very special to be able go out and get a win last year,” said the 20-year-old Lupton, who lives in Sacramento, Calif. “It was my first win of the year and my first career win in the series, so it was something that meant a lot to me.”
With the series returning to Monroe on Saturday night, “I’m really excited to go back to Evergreen Speedway this year,” Lupton added. “We’d love to be able to make it two in a row.”
The K&N Pro Series West, which is a 14-race series this year, is always one of the biggest races of the season at Evergreen Speedway. And as much as Lupton would like to win for a second straight year, he can expect a big challenge from a 24-car field that includes Pursley, the season points leader with 342. Lupton is second with 317.
Winning at Evergreen Speedway not only requires the usual race strategies, but also a special attention to tire wear, Lupton said.
“The track at Evergreen is a great track. However, it’s old and the track is pretty abrasive, so saving tires is definitely a must,” he explained. “The first half of the race is all about conserving tires and figuring out how much we can push throughout the race so we don’t totally wear out the tires.”
The NAPA Auto Parts/Toyota 150 is the first of two races on Saturday, with the Toyota Super Late Model 100 to follow. Most drivers will race one or the other, but Snohomish product Daniel Moore will attempt to drive in both.
If he pulls it off, it will be 250 racing laps. “And that’ll be a handful, for sure,” said Moore, a 2006 graduate of Snohomish High School.
With testing, qualifying and then racing, all in one day, “the biggest challenge will be time management,” said Moore, who graduated from Washington State University in 2012 and lives now in Spokane. “You’re trying to bounce back and forth between the two cars. And there are two different driving styles to get used to.”
The car Moore will race in the K&N series is a former NASCAR Sprint Cup car, so it is decidedly heavier than the late model car he will drive in the second race. “And the best way to compare it, one is like driving a dump truck and the other is like driving a Corvette,” he said.
Moore is the defending Whelen All-American Series champion for late models both at Evergreen Speedway and in Washington, but this will be his first career K&N series race. He is looking forward to seeing how he stacks up against a field “that is definitely a whole other notch up in terms of the level of competition.”
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity,” he added. “We can kind of test the waters and see how we do. We’re shooting for a good, solid finish. We’re not expecting to win the race, but anything’s possible and we’re going to try our best.
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