ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Canadian stock car racer Cameron Hayley was in Albuquerque, NM this past weekend for Race #12 of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship. The half-mile NAPA Speedway offered one of the season’s toughest challenges, largely because of its abrasive racing surface. The Cabinets by Hayley team was slow to adjust to the situation, but they were determined to overcome the obstacles.
After testing at the track a few weeks earlier, the team had a fairly good read on the car before they even unloaded for practice. They took their time and decided to work more on being there in the end than chasing a single, fast lap. By the time practice was over, Hayley and his crew chief Jeff were very confident in the car for the race but also confident that it could qualify well. They had a perfect qualifying draw, and Cameron headed out ‘second last.’ The scenario turned, however, when Cameron noticed oil on the track. There was nothing that could be done about it, so Hayley was forced to qualify on the slick track, still managing to secure a third-place starting spot.
Lining up for the race, all minds were focussed on surviving all 150 laps on the ‘tire-eating’ track.
“All we had been talking about for the past week was save, save, save,” explained Hayley, “We knew that this track would test my patience and I couldn’t let it get the best of me.”
The green flag dropped shortly after 8 o’clock. And instead of the mad dash to the front the team was used to, it was the mad dash to slow down. The initial pace set was almost three seconds slower than what was set in qualifying.
It was all the drivers could do to make sure they had tires left for the end. Hayley quickly settled into a rhythm and ran around 6th place for most of the race, watching as many tried to make a quick dash to the lead but quickly fell back after losing grip.
Hayley told his crew that he was saving his tires, comparing his stragegy to a ‘Sunday drive.’ After 130 laps, the team decided it was time to make their move. Cameron methodically picked his way through the field, climbing to fourth by lap 140. All he needed was for the race to stay green and he might have a chance to win.
However, the racing gods had a different plan, which brought the caution out with 9 to go. This was the last thing Hayley wanted to see, as he would have to start on the outside line, which had been very poor all night. By the time the race started again, Hayley had four short laps to make up spots. A hard-fought battle with former teammate Eric Holmes hindered that process. In the end, Hayley could only make it to third.
“The race started off really slow and I found myself wondering how I was going to stay awake,” Hayley laughs, “the race only really began around lap 130 and 20 laps is not very long to race and go for the win. Overall I was really happy with my Cabinets by Hayley Ford Fusion and I’m really looking forward to the next race at All American Speedway.”
Although third place was not ideal for Hayley, he still felt like he dodged a bullet and was happy he was able to get a top 3 finish after a tough day at the racetrack.
The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule is the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., on Oct. 12.
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From Hayley Motorsports