Chase Cabre is open about his relationship with K&N Pro Series East points leader Sam Mayer.
"I think he’s arrogant," Cabre said. "Sam and I have talked, and he knows where I stand."
Entering tonight’s Bush’s Beans 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the 16-year-old Mayer has an 11-point edge over Cabre in the championship standings.
Only three races remain after BMS, so Cabre knows the stakes.
"This Bristol race is huge," Cabre said. "We’ve had a dream season so far. Now, we just have to figure out a way to beat (Mayer)."
No driver had an answer for Mayer in April’s Zombie Auto 150 K&N event at BMS.
The son of former IndyCar racer Scott Mayer from Wisconsin, Sam topped all drivers in both practice sessions before blasting a track record time of 14.978 seconds at 128.107 mph in qualifying. Mayer then led every lap to win in just his eighth K&N start while Cabre finished second.
"That was the best run we’ve had at Bristol, but my car was a little too tight on the final stage," Cabre said. "We did good notes from that race and we’re hoping that will pay off Thursday."
It’s been a breakthrough season for Cabre. After going winless in his first 32 K&N races, Cabre earned back-to back victories earlier this season at Memphis and New Hampshire.
"That was a blast," Cabre said. "I struggled last year with bad luck, but we’ve been hitting on all cylinders most of this season. Our confidence level is way up and that has played a big role in my performance."
Cabre credited his Rev Racing crew chief Doug Howe for devising the right setups and race strategy.
"Doug is very intelligent and he has a lot of experience at various levels in the sport," Cabre said. "Doug likes the handling in a race car to be free, and that fits my style."
At age 23, Cabre can be considered a veteran in developmental series that has increasingly featured teen phenoms backed by big budgets. A Tampa native, Cabre competed in motocross and sprint cars before being selected as a member of the 2017 NASCAR Drive for Diversity class.
"If someone would have told me I would be racing in the K&N series when I was younger, I would have thought they were crazy," Cabre said. "Without this opportunity, I’d probably still be running sprint cars on dirt. Competing at a track like Bristol is a great way to attract attention."
This is the first year that BMS has hosted two K&N events in the same year.
Tonight’s showcase gained some spice on Monday when the powerful DGR-Crosley team tabbed 18-year-old Toyota Racing Development driver Hailie Deegan to drive the team’s No. 54 Camry.
Deegan, the daughter of freestyle motocross legend and X Games star Brian Deegan, currently ranks second in the K&N Pro Series West standings for Bill McAnally Racing.
While Deegan has two wins this season, she has drawn the ire of fellow competitors for her aggressive ways. Deegan finished 16th at BMS in April after her car suffered damage in an incident with rookie Brittney Zamora.
"(Bristol) is a tough track to figure out, but I feel like it really fits my driving style," Deegan said. "The short track beating and banging makes for an exciting race. The seat time and experience this weekend will help me be at the top of my game when I go back to race on the West Coast."
Brandon McReynolds, son of Fox Sports NASCAR analyst Larry McReynolds, returns tonight after finishing third in April.
Meanwhile, Cabre will look to close the gap on Mayer. He finished second to his rival last weekend on the Watkins Glen road course.
"It seems like I’ve been finishing one position behind Sam all season," Cabre said. "That’s been frustrating, but Sam always has good cars."
As for his relationship with Mayer, Cabre urged fans to stay tuned.
"We have an ongoing to rivalry, so things will happen and I’m not afraid to voice my opinion," Cabre said. "There’s a good guy and bad guy element now between us. Nobody wants to tear up a race car, but it looks like Sam and I are going to be mashing heads for a while
"Rubbing is racing, and I know that’s what the fans like to see."
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