Norman-Levin Racing Motivated by Strong Performance in Tucson
Tucson, Arizona -- Race fans from Tucson and throughout the western region were thoroughly entertained during the NAPA Wildcat 150 at Tucson Speedway Saturday night. In one of the most anticipated racing events in Tucson for many years, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series delivered big-time with exciting door-to-door action throughout the race with often 2-3 wide 2-3 deep competition across the famed paved oval.
Stormin Ron Norman started off the evening with a bang for the home crowd. Randomly picked first to qualify Ron took to the track in his #30 Port of Tucson Toyota Camry silver bullet and put up an electrifying 15.794, a time that would stand throughout the qualifying evening and earn him the first Coors Light Pole Award of his storied career. “Coming out of the last practice, the car just felt really good and snug to the racetrack”, Ron said. “I wanted the Pole pretty bad so I was thrilled to have been able to put up a good mark for our team and home crowd.” Ron won the pole by almost 2 tenths of a second which isn’t a lot of time in life but a pretty good winning margin in racing.
Meanwhile, Matt Levin also felt good out of practice with his #14 Port of Tucson Toyota Camry and put up a strong qualifying run of 16.208 ending up 14th in a tight 23 car qualifying grid. The margin of qualifying times from the 2nd position to the 22nd position was just 8 tenths of a second demonstrating a highly competitive field and surely a great race to come later in the evening. “I was hoping to qualify a bit better but decided to set myself up for the Big Mover award of the race instead”, Matt said with his always great attitude. We would hear more from him on the track later that evening.
Ron brought the field to the Green Flag selecting the outside lane to start the race. After sparring with the front runners of the race and K&N series for a few laps, Ron took back the lead and set sail into the Tucson night. Putting down fast lap-times and feeling really strong, Ron moved out with what was a 10-car length lead at one time, lapping tail-end cars in the field with ease as he navigated across well-known paths around the 3/8 mile progressive banked home track. It seemed he would cruise comfortably into the competition yellow planned for Lap 75, half-way through this 150 lap race for cars to change tires and make adjustments.
Unfortunately Ron would again be tormented by equipment problems as his car became very tight in the middle of the corners as the first run continued. This condition results in the driver not being able to get back into the throttle quick enough through the turn while battling with the car to get it turned and headed out of the turn into the stretch. This would cost him as the field gained ground and eventually began passing him one-by-one while Ron battled an unhappy racecar.
After the NASCAR Competition Yellow and having received 4 new Goodyear’s and some adjustments, both cars took to the track for the final session looking strong. Ironically or not, Ron and Matt found themselves together on the race track and began a strong tandem run to the front running in and around Top 10 position for most of the second session. With just 25 laps to go in the race, both cars were riding in and around the Top 10 but dropped back leading up to a yellow flag on Lap 148, setting up a Green White Checkered finish in Tucson. A wild race to the Checkered Flag ensued with side-by-side racing up-front with Las Vegas native Noah Gragson taking the win. Norman-Levin Racing finished just outside the Top 10 with Matt finishing in 11th and Ron in 12th, both on the lead-lap at the end.
Although somewhat disappointed in the results, both drivers felt they again made good strides with the big picture in mind. Both finished better than the race before and are also well positioned in the NASCAR K&N Pro-Series West point’s championship with Matt sitting in 13th position and Ron in 14th position out of a 35 car field after just three races into the season. Not bad for a new team still learning the racecars and their own potential at this level of NASCAR racing.
The NASCAR K&N Pro-Series and Norman-Levin Racing return to action on Saturday, May 16 at Iowa Speedway in the Casey’s General Store 150; the first of two NASCAR K&N Pro-Series East / West combination races in the 2015 season.