The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East made a stop in the famed Watkins Glen Road Course for the first time in five years Friday afternoon for the running of the Bully Hill Vineyards 125. Most of the full field of NASCAR newcomers have little to no experience going left and right so the race was sure to be full of excitement.
The Australian rookie, Brodie Kostecki (#43) lead the field to green at the Glen. His time at the front was short lived as a suspension issue took the #43 out on lap 6. John Hunter Nemechek also went out early with fuel pressure issues. Road course ace, Andrew Ranger took the lead on lap 10. Ranger spent the early parts of the event battling with Cameron Hayley and Austin Hill who both suffered tire problems taking them out of contention.
Just shy of the halfway break, Gray Gualding took the lead from Ranger with Custer, Grala, and Heckert close behind. This would be the order as the 10 minute break took place. The teams could change left side tires only on the stop. During the break, Sprint Cup rookie, Austin Dillon went behind the wall and out of the race with an engine issue.
On the restart on lap 28, Leader Gray Gualding quickly lost ground. Ranger easily took the lead away on lap 32. Gualding was suffering from an electrical issue that saw him drop back to an eventual 18th place finish. The lead was now contested between the dominant Andrew Ranger in the #53 Waste Management Ford and Cole Custer in the #00 NAPA Chevy. The two ran nose to tail for a number of laps going for the win until a late yellow flag with just 5 laps to go would change everything.
Sergio Pena in the #4 stopped on the track to bring out the yellow. The first attempt at a restart saw #6 Daniel Suarez get taken out in a crash. Next would come a single attempt at a green-white-checker finish. Ranger and Custer battled hard on the restart for the win, opening up the door for Scott Heckert to slide past to take the lead. Cole Custer tried hard to retake the lead coming to the white flag, but spun out on the exit of the final turn. He would spin into the sand barrels situated on the start of pit road as he was trying to overtake Heckert for the lead on the white flag. The race would end there due to the yellow after the white was displayed. Scott Heckert wins the Bully Hill Vineyards 125 for his first career victory in the K&N East series!
Andrew Ranger had to settle for second, points leader Ben Rhodes finished third, Kaz Grala forth, and Jesse Little rounded out the top five. The next race for the East series will be Aug. 16th at Virginia International Raceway.