Race Information: Event: PittLite 125, Saturday, April 16 at approximately 4:30 p.m. Local Time Track: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway Qualifying: Friday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. Local Time Track Length: 0.533-mile paved oval.
We’re Back: After skipping the most recent NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway, Codie Rohrbaugh and the Grant County Mulch Racing team return to action this weekend for the series’ annual stop in “Thunder Valley” at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
Looking Back: In the team’s second NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) race of the season, Rohrbaugh struggled with the handling of his No. 7 Grant County Mulch SS resulting in an uncharacteristic 19th place finish after starting 22nd in the Mobile 150 presented by the Mobile Sports Authority.
New Qualifying Procedure: This weekend’s PittLite 125 will feature a new qualifying procedure. Instead of the traditional two-lap time trials, group qualifying similar to road course procedures, will be utilized. Each group will participate in a five-minute session and the fastest single lap speed of each car will determine the first 32 starting positions secured into the field by their qualifying lap / speed.
Year In Review In Thunder Valley: Making his Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway debut last April, Rohrbaugh and his GCM team stunned the powerhouse teams with a superb ninth place qualifying effort at the 0.533-mile oval. While competitive during the race, the K&N rookie was spun out late in the race forcing an unsettling 22nd place finish.
Networking 2.0: Between NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races, Rohrbaugh and crew chief Mark Huff have been guests of Ricky Benton Racing (RBR) in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for a few races in 2016, including the series’ most recent venue at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway earlier this month. The team’s driver Parker Kligerman sits second in the championship standings after three races.
Announcement Coming Soon: In the coming weeks, Grant County Mulch Racing will announce plans for Rohrbaugh to compete in another racing division during the summer stretch of 2016.
Back By Popular Demand: After debuting a new paint scheme at New Smyrna (Fla.) International Speedway earlier this year, Rohrbaugh and his team will keep their bright orange and camouflage look on the track during Saturday afternoon’s PittLite 125 which will commence shortly after the NASCAR XFINITY Series take their checkered flag in their 200-lap anticipated slugfest.
12th Career Start On Deck: By taking the green flag in Saturday afternoon’s race, Rohrbaugh will make his 12th career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start. Last season, the 22-year-old improved on his starting position by six spots.
Locked In: Despite having limited owner’s points to fall back, Grant County Mulch Racing and driver Rohrbaugh will be guaranteed to make the fourth race of the season for Saturday’s PittLite 125. With 30 cars pre-entered for the event,Rohrbaugh is guaranteed to make the race for a field that is capable of starting 36 vehicles.
Meet Codie: Rohrbaugh will meet and greet race fans during the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East autograph session on Saturday, April 16 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in “Lot C” at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
A Look Back At 2015: Stepping up his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule from 2014, Rohrbaugh and Grant County Mulch Racing competed in six events earning a career-best finish of ninth at Motordrome (Pa.) Speedway last August. Additionally, the team earned back-to-back top-10 starting spots at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway respectively. Rohrbaugh was also running at the finish of all six races the team entered in 2015.
Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway Fast Fact: Opened in 1961 and hosted its first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on July 30, 1961 won by Jack Smith. It was originally named Bristol International Speedway until 1978 and was then renamed Bristol International Raceway until 1996 when it became Bristol Motor Speedway. The Thunder Valley, was .5-miles from 1961-69 before becoming .527-miles for one year in 1969. In 1970, it became the familiar .533-mile track seen today. The concrete oval has 600-foot straightaways with five to nine degrees of banking on the front stretch and four to eight degrees on the backstretch. The turns are progressively banked from 24 to 28 degrees and the racing surface 40 feet wide.
Chassis Intel: Mark Huff, crew chief Grant County Mulch Racing has elected to bring chassis number 001 to the 0.533-mile paved oval this weekend. This race chassis last competed in the K&N Pro Series East race at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway. It also is the same automobile that the team utilized for their career-best finish at Motordrome (Pa.) Speedway last year.
Grant County Mulch Racing, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Pre-Race Quotes: Codie Rohrbaugh, driver of theNo. 7 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet SS:
On Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway: “We were excited to go to Mobile, a new venue for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, I just wish we were able to run a little better. The guys worked extremely hard on the No. 7 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet, but we struggled for grip. Knowing we didn’t have a chance at victory, we turned the race into a test session hoping we could learn something there that could aid us later on in the season.”
On Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway: “I feel like Bristol Motor Speedway really owes us one. For my first time there last season, we were extremely quick. I was able to adapt to the track quickly and Mark (Huff, crew chief) did a great job setting up our No. 7 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet. I was just trying to be patient in the race and we ended up getting run over. When that happened, we were left with many laps to recover. Hopefully, this weekend the end result will be positive and get our team back on the right path.”
On Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway New Qualifying Procedure: “You know, I’m really interested to see how this new format is going to work out. We don’t have a lot of time between practice and qualifying, so we’re going to have our car dialed in to our liking on Friday afternoon. Group qualifying I think can have some advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully, we’ll find a hole where we can go out there and put down a fast lap and then turn our concentration on the race.”
On Upcoming Team Announcement: “We have a lot to be looking forward to this season. With our strong schedule in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East to the new series we’ll be entering soon, I’m very excited about what lies ahead for the rest of 2016 and continue to be thankful to Grant County Mulch and everyone who makes it possible.”
The PittLite 125 (125 laps / 66.625 miles) is the fourth of 14 races on the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule. Practice is set for Friday, April 15 from 6:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. A final practice session has been etched in from 7:00 p.m. – 7:25 p.m.Group qualifying is set a few minutes later at 7:30 p.m. The event will take the green flag the next day shortly after the conclusion of the NASCAR XFINITY Series race. The anticipated green flag is set for 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The event will be televised on a tape-delayed basis on NBC Sports Network with a Friday, April 22 at 1:00 a.m. air date.
PHOTO CAPTION: Codie Rohrbaugh, driver of the No. 7 Grant County Mulch Chevrolet in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) competition for Grant County Mulch Racing.
Credit: Chris Knight