For part of the New Smyrna 175 at New Smyrna Speedway, it appeared Chase Cabre was on his way to earning his first K&N Pro Series victory.
After starting sixth and leading 13 laps in his No. 4 Toyota, a problem with the rear end started creating smoke from the car, ultimately forcing him to retire from the event after 77 of the 175 laps.“The rear end seal, I don’t know how or what, but it failed,” Cabre said. “It had a tear in it. It’s at Buzzy’s shop, which is the guy who builds the rear ends. They’re figuring out why or how but all we know is that a rear end seal failed.”
Despite ending up the first race with a 17th-place finish, the Tampa, Florida native was encouraged by the speed found in the Rev Racing camp, specifically at a race track he hasn’t performed well at historically.
“To come out of the box and have speed, it was definitely nice to have,” he said. “I haven’t really had a lot of speed at New Smyrna in the past. I said at the beginning of the year, this has to be the breakout season. We started out with a ton of speed, we’re behind in points right now, but I think we can knock some wins out of the park and we’ll climb up the ladder pretty quick.”
For Cabre, winning has been easier said than done. In 29 career K&N Pro Series East starts, he’s yet to earn a checkered flag. He has seven top fives and 15 top 10s to his credit, including a career-best finish of second at Memphis in 2017. He was also leading coming into the final turn at South Boston last season.
Racing-Reference: Chase Cabre Career Statistics
“I have no idea what that holds for the future. I have no clue,” Cabre said. Especially with everything that’s happening next season with the ARCA merger with K&N. I think this year has got to be the year that I go out, lay it all on the line and try to bring home wins and a championship and people will learn who Chase Cabre is. With that merge happening, we have no idea what the future holds for the K&N Series, for Rev and what their plans are versus what my plans are. We’ll just have to play it by ear and give them something to talk about when they go through the decision making process.”
He’s been close before to entering Victory Lane, and is hoping some change atop the pit box and in the shop will assist in getting over that proverbial hump.
“We had a new addition to our team which was Doug Howe,” Cabre said. “Being my crew chief for the remainder of the season, he’s definitely somebody I can really rely on. He’s done a lot of work in the past. A new car chief and new mechanic, it’s a fresh start. Taking nothing away from my old team, I love them to death, but sometimes you need a little bit of change to give things a fresh feel. Hopefully this is the change we need, we gel and mesh. It seemed to work out at New Smyrna and we just need to capitalize on the finishes and go take some wins from them.”
The next place he’ll look to do that at is Bristol Motor Speedway, a place that hasn’t been too kind fo Cabre. In two starts, he has an average finish of 22.5, failing to finish last year’s event (electrical).
“That place hasn’t been good to me, but neither had New Smyrna,” he said. “I’m going there with the same car my brother (Collin) had a couple years ago. He took the lead from Harrison (Burton) but had a tire going down. So it definitely shows we’ll have speed there, show the same speed we had at New Smyrna.”
Cabre is also planning on seeking out his Rev Racing teammate, Ruben Garcia Jr., for some advice in the month leading up to the second race of the season.
“Ruben has run pretty strong there in the past and my brother was really good there,” he said. “Being able to talk to them, but also my old crew chief Mark Green has now transitioned into our dover coach and he’s put in a myriad of laps on racetracks you couldn’t even imagine. To have Mark be able to oversee everything, step out of the crew chief role, have him as a driver coach and watch every single lap–he can say ‘I see you doing this, I see you doing this here,’ or ‘that there, try this, try that.’ Having that second set of eyes to watch you throughout practice and kind of coach you up, I feel like that’ll help in the long haul.”
The Zombie Auto 150 will go green from the World’s Fastest Half Mile on Saturday, April 6. Todd Gilliland is the defending winner of the event.