It took Ryan Gifford more than three years and some time racing in the dirt to win his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East racer Ryan Gifford
Gifford took the lead from Cole Custer on lap 78 and won the Blue Ox 100 at Richmond International Raceway in Virginia, the fourth race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver Ryan Gifford won the Blue Ox 100 race at Richmond International Raceway.
"This is something I'm going to remember for the rest of my life," Gifford said. "To come here after four years being in the series, coming up short so many times, to be able to go out and do this is just awesome. I want to celebrate it and make it a memory I'll be able to tell my children."
Gifford won his first race in 44 career starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
He qualified 11th and had to work his way through the field to take the lead. Gray Gaulding won the pole and became the youngest NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver to win a pole, breaking the mark held by Chase Elliott. Gaulding is 15 years, 2 months and 15 days.
Gaulding led the first 53 laps of the race before making contact with Corey LaJoie. Both drivers, the top two qualifiers in the race, did not return.
Custer took the lead from Gaulding on lap 54 and was out front for 24 laps. Gifford passed Custer for the lead and held it for the final 23 laps of the race at Richmond International Raceway.
Ryan Gifford celebrating his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race win at Richmond International Raceway
"I think this one was good, but I think there's many more to come," Gifford said. "I think now we got the ball rolling, I feel like there are a 1,000 pounds lifted off my shoulders to go out and get this first win. Now we can go out there and hopefully click them off."
Brandon Gdovic passed Custer and finished in second place. After the race, he said he was happy to see Gifford finally win a race.
"I know he's been wanting one so bad," Gdovic said. "He's been in the series longer than I have. It's great to see him in Victory Lane. The win probably helps the crew more than the driver. It reflects all the work they put into the car. When the car runs wells, they did their job right."
Gdovic started seventh and like Gifford had to work his through the field to reach the front.
"The car was definitely right tonight," Gdovic said. "I think we had the car to beat. Unfortunately came up one short there. My guys put in so much work to get this new car out here. Obviously they did it right."
Custer, a rookie making his fourth start in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, finished third, but triggered a crash at the end of the race.
"I wish we could have won it," Custer said. "I feel bad about stacking up the cars behind me."
Brett Moffitt, the leader in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings after four races, was sixth. Gifford moved into second place in the K&N Pro Series East standings, seven points behind Moffitt.
Mackenna Bell, Gifford's teammate, was fifth. For the first time in the 26-year history of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, a woman driver has finished in the top five in three races in a row. Kenzie Ruston finished in the top five at Greenville Pickens Speedway and Five Flags Speedway. Bell made it three in a row with a fifth-place finish at Richmond International Raceway.
The next race on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule is the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 at Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina on June 1.
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