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Local Sports

Little, Gaulding working toward first K&N wins

Iowa Speedway is where the East meets the West.

Tonight’s Pork Be Inspired 150 is the second of two combination races for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series when the drivers from the East series and the West series race together. And both of the East-West shootouts run at Iowa Speedway.

Two of the aspiring NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers out of the K&N East going after their first win of their rookie year are Jesse Little and Gray Gaulding. Little is the 16-year-old son of NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series director Chad Little. Gaulding is a 15-year-old driver, who is the youngest driver to earn a pole spot in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series at 15 years, 2 months and 15 days at Richmond in April.

In June, Gaulding finished ninth here at Iowa and Little took 19th following a late-race wreck. Both drivers said they will be using what they learned from their first run at Iowa Speedway for Friday’s race.

“That was the biggest learning curve I’ve had this season,” Little said of June’s race at Iowa Speedway. “We had a really, really fast car that day and qualified sixth. But communication is something I have had to work on since this season started.”

“I gave the wrong information about the car ... We over-adjusted and had a bad night, getting into a wreck at the end. I’ve really focused on becoming better with communication and making a mental checklist to relay the information to my crew chief. That’s what I’m bringing into this weekend.”

For Gaulding, it’s about chassis type.

“We have a whole different car than we ran here in June. We had a composite-body car last time. We were running very good on short runs but just needed some help on long green flag runs” said Gaulding. “The steel-body cars have the advantage and we got hung up down on the bottom of the track.”

So Gaulding and his Krispy Kreme Racing team are bringing the same car he ran at Richmond. It is a steel-body chassis with the Krispy Kreme No. 20 on it.

Gaulding is seventh in the K&N East points race with 267 points while Little is 14th with 234 points.

Little made history in 2012 as the youngest driver to start a NASCAR K&N race at the age of 15 yeas at Richmond International Speedway. Also last year, Little led 33 laps at the K&N Pro race at Rockingham.

“I haven’t known anything but racing ... I started racing when I was 7 but it wasn’t until I was 12 or 13 and getting into the bigger and heavier stock cars, when I realized this is a lot of fun. I was enjoying it a lot and it was something I wanted to pursue,” Little said.

Little drives the Team Little No. 97. His father, Chad, drove the No. 97 John Deere Car for Roush Fenway Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Little said the competition in stock car racing is what he likes the most. He said this season he has learned there are a lot of talented drivers out there.

“I knew it was gong to be hard but not this hard. The competition is a lot great that what I thought it was but that’s what I like about the sport,” Little said. “You have to have a lot of luck in the sport also and we’ve been having more of that on our side lately.”

Gaulding began racing on dirt bikes when he was three and with the influence of his father and grandfather, the love of the sport grew for him.

“We’ve been running well this season. I’ve always been a competitive person and I go out each race to win it and do the best job I can for myself, my team and my sponsors,” Gaulding said. “Coming here to Iowa is a great. I’ve run a lot of short tracks but being on a big track like Iowa is an amazing feeling.”

Both Gaulding and Little said running against the West series drivers is always a good event for them. The young drivers are learning from the more experienced drivers and pushing those drivers each time out.

Little and Gaulding are ready to push to Pizza Ranch Victory Lane here at Iowa Speedway this weekend.

“Being here with the Nationwide cars again is a lot of fun. This is a track you get to showcase on. Running good here can say something about your team,” Little said.

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