Justin Haley won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship giving HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks its fourth series title in a row. Haley won the 2016 K&N Pro Series East championship with 13 top-five finishes in 14 races and ended the season with another solid race at Dover International Speedway in Delaware.
Justin Haley won the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship
“We brought speed everywhere we went,” Haley said. “This is a great series. We had a really, really good year, only finished outside the top five once in 14 races. That’s pretty impressive. The crew is unbelievable, bringing and preparing the car from the shop, unloading good every week.”
Haley won two races, at Greenville Pickens Speedway in South Carolina in March and at Columbus Speedway in Ohio in July. He was fourth in the season finale Dover 125 and won the K&N Pro Series championship by 22 points over Kyle Benjamin.
Benjamin won the K&N Pro Series East finale at Dover, taking the lead from Haley, who started on the pole, on lap 43. Benjamin won the race on a green-white-checkered flag finish.
Justin Haley raises the trophy for winning the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dover Speedway
“We came here with the mindset that we wanted to win the race,” said Shannon Rursh, Haley’s crew chief. “Qualifying getting rained out, it gave us a little bit of an advantage to go lead several laps. Clean air was good for us. I didn’t really focus a whole lot on the championship side of things until it probably hit with about 10 laps to go. This is probably going to happen.”
Haley finished in the top 10 in every K&N Pro Series East race and won two poles, not including the race at Dover. His worst finish of the season was eighth place.
“It’s been a great year,” Rursh said. “Obviously you look back at the races you thought you gave away. In the end I think our average finish was 3.4 or something. I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of people who would be really ecstatic to have that average finish throughout the season.”
For Harry Scott Jr., the owner of Haley’s team in the K&N Pro Series East, it was his fourth championship in a row. He won with Dylan Kwasniewski in 2013, Ben Rhodes in 2014 and William Byron in 2015.
Justin Haley was fourth in the season finale NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dover Int'l Speedway
“We’ve been very fortunate in this series,” Scott said. “This is our fourth straight championship. It seems each championship gets more and more special. Justin is a fine young man. He deserves a championship. He’s been very consistent and he keeps his head in the game. He concentrated on what he needed to concentrate on. I’m proud of him for that.”
Scott gave much of the credit to Haley’s championship season to Rursh. He said the crew, led by Rursh, consistently gave Haley fast, reliable cars throughout the season.
“Shannon’s been great preparing the cars, making sure that Justin gets what he needs,” Scott said. “Their communication and their relationship have been phenomenal this year. That’s a lot of why he’s been so successful this year.”
Justin Haley started on the pole and led 42 laps for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dover
Haley, a 17-year-old from Winamac, Ind., is the eighth teenager in a row to win the K&N Pro Series East championship. He joins 16-year-old Cayden Lapevich, who won the NASCAR Pinty’s Series championship in Canada, as another teenage NASCAR champion. Haley won the K&N Pro Series East championship in his third season in the series.
“I made my K&N East debut in 2014 and didn’t have the best of run ins,” Haley said. “Last year I did the full championship and finished sixth in the points. It’s been a long wait coming. I’m very fortunate and blessed to come out here and run like we have this year. It’s amazing. Now, kind of all the stress and all that is lifted here after we cross the start-finish line. I am very thankful.”