Hattori Racing Enterprises’ drivers Lee Pulliam and David Garbo Jr. both had some bad luck at the end of what was otherwise a good day at Greenville Pickens Speedway in the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150, the fourth race of the season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
HRE started out the morning strong with fast cars in practice. Pulliam in the No. 11 NASCAR Technical Institute/JTB Toyota was fastest in the first practice. Garbo in the No. 1 Big Machine Records Toyota improved throughout both practice sessions and cracked the top fifteen before the end of final practice. In qualifying, Pulliam continued his streak of top-ten qualifying efforts by scoring a 7th place starting position. Garbo also had an impressive qualifying run, qualifying just outside the top ten in 12th.
Pulliam ran in the top ten throughout the first half of the race. Garbo fell back to 21st about lap 60, but after the halfway point he began working his way to the front. Around lap 85, Garbo caught and passed Pulliam. Garbo and Pulliam ran 12th and 13th for over 10 laps, until a caution came out around lap 111. On the restart, the two HRE drivers restarted side-by-side, 11th and 12th. The cars battled for the 11th position for the next few laps, with Garbo securing the position around lap 124. Pulliam fell back to 15th, but quickly began fighting to gain back positions. Meanwhile, Garbo worked his way up to 9th. Caution came out again at lap 133; Garbo restarted 9th and Pulliam restarted 14th. With both drivers advancing toward the front with about 10 laps to go, HRE had high hopes for the finish of the race. Unfortunately, several cars stacked up on the restart, and both HRE cars had damage that required them to pit. Caution came out on lap 138 for the wreck; after pitting for repairs, Pulliam restarted 20th and Garbo 23rd. Both guys kept digging and were able to gain back a few positions. At the end of the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150, the No. 11 came home 18th and the No. 1 finished 20th.
Looking back on the race, Garbo says, “I guess over all it was a pretty good race, we just had some bad luck. We made a good change at halfway.
The first 75 laps we just missed it; we were way too loose all the way into the center of the corner. I came in for four tires and fuel at half way, and we made some adjustments. They definitely went the right way. We were up to ninth place and just had bad luck there at the end. It’s really hard to finish in the back with such a good car, and I really felt like we had a top seven or eight car. Hopefully I could have made it a top five car.”
Pulliam is ready to focus on the upcoming race at Richmond. Pulliam says, “It’s just a tough night, really no other way to explain it. When we tested down here the other week, I thought we had a really good car, but the crash at Bristol really threw us off. Everyone worked really hard, and I just have to thank Shige and everybody for giving me the opportunity. I’m just really disappointed right now that we couldn’t do any better tonight, but I know that this is just going to motivate everybody to work harder for Richmond. We’ll just make the most of it from here on out.”
The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 will begin at 8:00 P.M. The race will air on Fox Sports 1 Friday, March 28 at 11 A.M. EST. After a few weeks off, HRE will be racing at Richmond International Raceway on April 25th.