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Jesse Little Wins First Career NASCAR K&N East Race After Last Lap Crash

July 11th, 2014 at 11:42 PM
By Mark Eddinger

Friday evening marked the first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win for 17-year-old Jesse Little. The victory came in the Granite State 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Next member and son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Chad Little.

MikeKalasnik / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Little, in the No. 97 Chevrolet, was running in third on the final lap but the two lead cars wrecked in Turn 3 when Brandon Jones got into leader Nick Drake. Little drove past the two spinning cars to take his first career victory in his 31st start. Drake and Jones were both looking for their first career wins as well but Drake ended up 24th and Jones 21st after the accident.

For Jones, it was the second time in the last six days that he has had contact racing for a win on the last lap of a race. On Sunday in his ARCA Racing Series debut race Jones made an aggressive inside move on Mason Mitchell in Turn 3 and made contact with Mitchell as he went by to win at Winchester Speedway.

Ben Rhodes was trying to tie series history set by Ricky Craven by winning his fifth straight race, however, a late race penalty for a restart procedure infraction made the points leader make a drive-through penalty and he finished in 22nd place.

Rhodes started the 100 lap race from the pole after Friday's qualifying. He led the first two laps but then Chad Finley took the lead. He led until Rhodes passed him back on lap 10. The first caution flew on lap 19 when Daniel Suarez crashed. He finished in last of the 31 cars in the race.

Rhodes continued to lead until lap 26 when Gray Gaulding took the lead of the race. On lap 30 the second caution flew for an accident by Sergio Pena. He finished 30th. Brandon Gdovic brought out the third caution on lap 43 for a crash that caused him to finish in 29th. Gaulding still led at the halfway caution on lap 51.

Gaulding brought out the fifth caution in Turn 2 on lap 79 when he spun and Brandon Jones took the lead. Brennan Newberry crashed on lap 86 to bring out the sixth caution. He finished in 28th. On the restart at lap 89 Drake battled with Jones and took the lead on lap 90. The seventh caution then flew on lap 93 for an accident in Turn 2 between Ryan Gifford and Mackena Bell. Gifford finished 26th and Bell 27th.

Drake led on the restart with six laps to go all the way to Turn 3 on the final lap when Jones made a run under him in Turn 3 and they both crashed after contact was made. Little, the 2013 series Rookie of the Year, only led the final lap of the race to get the victory.

Finishing second was Eddie MacDonald with Cale Conley in third. Rookie Jay Beasley was fourth and rookie Chad Finley was fifth. Two more rookies finished sixth and seventh with them being Ronnie Bassett Jr and Austin Hill. Gray Gaulding, who led the most laps with 53, came back from his spin to finish in eighth. Rookie Brodie Kostecki finished ninth and rookie Kaz Grala was tenth.

The rest of the finishing order of those not mentioned so far were rookie Kyle Benjamin in 11th, Matt Tifft 12th, rookie Trey Hutchens 13th, Kenzie Ruston 14th, Cameron Hayley 15th, rookie David Garbo Jr 16th, rookie Anderson Bowen 17th, Giles Thornton 18th, rookie Jeremy Burns 19th, and John Salemi 20th. Rookie Codie Rohrbaugh was the final lead lap car in 23rd and Scott Heckert finished 25th.

After 10 races Ben Rhodes still holds a 62 point lead over Gray Gaulding. Cameron Hayley is 65 back in third. Jesse Little moved up to fourth and Brandon Jones rounds out the top five. Austin Hill is sixth, Ronnie Bassett Jr seventh, Nick Drake eighth, Kenzie Ruston ninth, and Kaz Grala tenth.

The Granite State 100 will air on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday, July 20th at noon. The next race on the schedule for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East is the JEGS 150 at Columbus Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 19th.

Tags: Austin Hill, Ben Rhodes, Brandon Jones, Cale Conley, Cameron Hayley, Chad Little, Eddie MacDonald, Gray Gaulding, Jay Beasley, Jesse Little, Motorsports, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, NASCAR Next, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Nick Drake

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