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Posted: Monday, August 11th 2014 at 8:08pm

Heckert celebrates first K&N East win at Watkins Glen

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Scott Heckert celebrates his victory in Friday's NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Watkins Glen International. / Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR
WATKINS GLEN, NY – In its first series race at Watkins Glen International since 2009, the NASCAR Pro Series East gave the fans a race finish to remember.

Second-year driver Scott Heckert was able to get past leader Andrew Ranger and second-place Cole Custer on the restart of a green-white-checkered finish attempt to score his first career victory in the action-packed Bully Hill Vineyards 125 on Friday.

“This is fantastic,” said Heckert about getting his first career win. “I think there’s a couple of races that we should have won or at least had the car to win. I think the sky’s the limit from now.”

After a late race caution was given to the field on lap 49 for contact between Daniel Suarez and several cars, Ranger led Custer on the final restart at the line. The two leaders battled side by side with Custer putting pressure on Ranger from the outside. That opened the door for Heckert to move on the inside of Ranger for the lead just before the white flag.

“I was able to hold the lead for a long time, but unfortunately, with green-white-checkered attempts, things can get a little crazy,” said runner-up finisher Andrew Ranger. “The No. 00 car was really fast on the restarts and I was focused on him on the outside and never really worried about the inside and unfortunately I got passed. But, it’s a podium, it’s second place, and I’m very happy to have been a part of the event tonight.”

Custer made one last attempt to pass Heckert for the lead, but he lost control and hit the sand barrels at the end of pit road to bring out the final caution of the race.

For Heckert, it was his first win in 27 career K&N Pro Series East starts.

Championship points leader Ben Rhodes battled throughout the night to finish third. The 17-year-old from Louisville, KY, was out of the top 10 at one point in the evening, but patiently worked his way into the top five, finishing with his third third-place finish and ninth podium finish of the season.

“We were kind of thinking ahead and seeing how people were popping their left and front tires,” said Rhodes. “We were trying to save our stuff. I got pushed back on one of the restarts but worked my way up, started passing people and watching what they were doing. I just went back out there and started to pick people off and save our stuff.”

Kaz Grala and Jesse Little finished fourth and fifth respectively, followed by Brandon Jones and Ryan Reed. NASCAR Next driver Cameron Hayley rebounded from an early-race incident to finish eighth while Kenzie Ruston and Nick Drake rounded out the top 10.

The victory was an emotional one for Heckert, who used to watch NASCAR events at Watkins Glen with his family.

“You think about winning when you go to sleep every night,” said Heckert. “My crew will tell you that about six months ago I started talking about winning here. Watkins Glen means a lot to me and my family. My dad’s been coming here for 40 years and it means a lot to us.”

The race was slowed five times by caution for nine laps. Fifteen cars finished on the lead lap.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will stay on a road course for its next race with the Biscuitville 125 at Virginia International Raceway in Alton, VA on Saturday, Aug. 16.

NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Watkins Glen International - Watkins Glen, NY
Bully Hill Vineyards 125 - Aug. 8, 2014

Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Points B/Points Status
1 5 34 Scott Heckert Project Lifesaver Chevrolet 53 47 4 Running
2 8 53 Andrew Ranger Waste Management Bagster Ford 53 44 2 Running
3 7 41 Ben Rhodes * Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet 53 41 Running
4 6 31 Kaz Grala * OzLINK Chevrolet 53 40 Running
5 12 97 Jesse Little NASCAR Technical Institute Chevrolet 53 39 Running
6 9 33 Brandon Jones Wolfpack Energy Services Chevrolet 53 38 Running
7 20 99 Ryan Reed Drive to Stop Diabetes pres. by Lilly Diabetes Ford 53 37 Running
8 3 98 Cameron Hayley Cabinets by Hayley Chevrolet 53 37 1 Running
9 19 96 Kenzie Ruston Bully Hill Vineyards Chevrolet 53 35 Running
10 13 15 Nick Drake * NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 53 34 Running
11 16 24 Brennan Newberry Qore24 Chevrolet 53 33 Running
12 24 86 Frederic Gabillon * Tepac/NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Chevrolet 53 32 Running
13 21 21 Mackena Bell Special Smiles Pediatric Dentistry Toyota 53 31 Running
14 23 42 Jay Beasley * Toyota Racing Development Toyota 53 30 Running
15 22 4 Ronnie Bassett, Jr. * Rex Younger Art Gallery Chevrolet 53 29 Running
16 11 0 Cole Custer NAPA Auto Parts/Haas Automation Chevrolet 52 28 Accident
17 2 22 Austin Hill * A&D Welding/Don Rich Ford Ford 52 28 1 Running
18 10 20 Gray Gaulding Krispy Kreme Chevrolet 50 27 1 Running
19 4 6 Daniel Suarez Rev Racing Toyota 48 25 Accident
20 15 4 Sergio Pena Toyota Racing Development Toyota 44 24 Suspension
21 18 37 Austin Dillon Spraker Racing Chevrolet 26 23 Engine
22 25 9 Richard Bodmer * Fountainhead Capital Management Ford 26 22 Transmission
23 17 2 Ryan Gifford UTI/NASCAR Technical Institute Toyota 12 21 Transmission
24 1 43 Brodie Kostecki * Arcoplate Toyota 4 20 Suspension
25 14 8 John Hunter Nemechek Bully Hill Restaurant Toyota 1 19 Distributor

Fastest Qualifier: Brodie Kostecki *, Time: 72.869 Seconds, Speed: 121.039 mph
Time of Race: 1 hrs., 33 mins, 56 secs Average Speed: 82.942 mph Margin of Victory: 1.173 Seconds
Caution Flags: Laps 5-6 (#43 Bus Stop - FP - None); 13-14 (#2 in the S's - FP None); 27 (Break - FP #4); 46-47 (#4 - FP #98); 49-50 (#6 - FP #22). 5 for 9 laps.
Lap Leaders: Austin Hill * 1-9, Andrew Ranger 10-17, Cameron Hayley 18-20, Andrew Ranger 21-22, Gray Gaulding 23-31, Andrew Ranger 32-51, Scott Heckert 52-53.
Total Laps Led: Andrew Ranger 30, Gray Gaulding 9, Austin Hill * 9, Cameron Hayley 3, Scott Heckert 2. 6 changes involving 5 drivers.
Top 10 Driver Points: Ben Rhodes * 536, Cameron Hayley 461, Brandon Jones 454, Jesse Little 453, Gray Gaulding 443, Kaz Grala * 428, Kenzie Ruston 427, Nick Drake * 420, Scott Heckert 409, Austin Hill * 409

Next Race: Virginia International Raceway

* - Denotes Rookie of the Year Contender
Associated Categories: Sports News, Professional Sports, NASCAR

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