“Puerto Rican rookie overcomes challenges to finish 14th”
Bristol, TN. (March 17, 2012) … Bryan Ortiz made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Widow Wax 125. The event marked the first race of the 2012 season for the NASCAR K&M Pro Series East.
The Bayamon, Puerto Rico native begins his second season in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program and Rev Racing. Last year, Ortiz competed in NASCAR Whelan All American Series Late Model Stocks before moving to the K&N Pro Series East for 2012.
The 23-year old was making his first career start at the .533-mile high banked concrete oval and learned quickly just how fast this track can be. After two very good practice sessions on Friday, March 16, Ortiz and his Rev Racing Toyota team were set to qualify Saturday afternoon.
However, Ortiz broke a sway bar mount exiting turn four as he came to take the green flag on his qualifying run. Fortunately, Ortiz did not make contact with the retaining wall and drove his Toyota to the pits. The Rev Racing crew quickly diagnosed the problem and began the repairing process. With very little time between qualifying and the 125-lap race, the crew had to race against the clock in order for Ortiz to race. Repairs were made and Ortiz would start 33rd.
It didn’t take long for Ortiz to show that he had a very fast car as he raced his way to 26th in only ten laps. When caution waved on lap 14 for a spin on the front stretch, Ortiz commented that his car “was a little loose, but pretty good”.
Restarting in 23rd on lap 19, Ortiz would work race traffic and move into 19th position at the halfway point of the race. During the 10-minute break, Ortiz told his crew that his Toyota was “still loose coming off the turns”.
With fresh tires, Ortiz restarted 19th on lap 70 and began his march toward the top 15. With a very competitive field of cars in front of him, Ortiz moved to 18th by lap 100.
“My car is starting to run hot,” Ortiz radioed to his crew on lap 107. Trying to “nurse” his car through the final 18 laps, Ortiz got a break on lap 119 when a multi-car crash in turn three brought a seven minute red flag. The accident happened between several cars racing directly in front of Ortiz, and the rookie displayed the ability of a veteran to avoid the spinning cars. His ability to avoid the collision earned Ortiz the Coca-Cola Move of the Race honors.
After the track was cleared, the red flag was replaced by the yellow caution flag and the competitors would have a two lap dash to the finish. Ortiz did an outstanding job of working through traffic in the final laps and finished in 14th position.
“My Toyota was pretty drivable considering the problem I had qualifying,” Ortiz said after the race. “The team did a good job making repairs. I had plenty of opportunities today to not finish this race. Several times, another driver would ‘chop me off’ entering the turns. Then, the car started running hot late in the race. The last adjustment the crew made to the car really helped. All-in-all, a pretty good start to our season when you consider everything that happened.”
The next race for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will be Saturday, March 31st at Greenville Pickens Speedway in Greenville, South Carolina. The Kevin Whitaker 150 will be the second of fourteen races on the 2012 schedule for the series.
– Performance Sports Partners Press Release
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