Grand finale: Greg Pursley caps career with 2nd NASCAR K&N West title

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What a way to go for Greg Pursley.

The 46-year-old Californian finished ninth in Thursday’s Casino Arizona 100 at Phoenix International Raceway to win his second career NASCAR K&N Pro Series West title – and then announced afterwards that he was hanging up his helmet.

“As of right now, I guess I’m retired,” Pursley said. “I’m very happy to go out as the champion on top.”

Pursley ended up winning the series title by 17 points over NASCAR Next driver Dylan Lupton. Beyond race winner Nick Drake, the rest of the Top 5 on Thursday night are part of the Next project – runner-up Gray Gaulding, third-place Cole Custer, fourth-place Jesse Little, and fifth-place Lupton.

With such talented prospects in the pipeline, Pursley indicated that he’s at peace with bowing out.

“It’s been a lot of fun racing these kids,” he said. “The more seat time they get, the better they get. I’ve tried my best to help them out. I’ve gave them advice. And I’m gonna miss all of them, too.

“To be able to race these kids and race them side-by-side, especially for the championship, that’s pretty cool deal to have…There’s a lot of young talent that’s coming up that you’re gonna see a lot of great racing from in the future.”

Pursley’s final season of competition ends with a solid stat line: Two wins at Kern County (Bakersfield, Calif.) and Iowa, 12 Top-5s, and 13 Top-10s in 14 races.

On his way out, he gives car owner Gene Price his third K&N West title; in addition to Pursley’s two titles, Price got a title from current Nationwide Series driver Dylan Kwasniewski in 2012.

Adding even more of a bittersweet aspect to Thursday’s triumph, Price himself is following Pursley through the exit door as well.

Noted short track site Speed51.com reports that Price will end his tenure as a car owner and focus on raising horses with his wife at their ranch near Flagstaff, Arizona. However, the site also says that an attempt is being made by crew chief Jerry Pitts and Jeff Jefferson, a three-time champion in the now-defunct NASCAR Northwest Tour, to purchase the team’s assets.

Alex Zanardi showing signs of interaction three months after crash

Alex Zanardi recovery
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MILAN — Italian racing driver turned Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi has started responding to treatment with signs of interaction, more than three months after he was seriously injured in a handbike crash.

Zanardi has spent most of that time in intensive care after crashing into an oncoming truck during a relay event near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19.

“For several days now. Alex Zanardi has undergone cognitive and motor rehabilitation sessions, with the administration of visual and acoustic stimuli, to which the patient responds with momentary and initial signs of interaction,” the San Raffaele hospital in Milan said in a statement Thursday.

The hospital said that is “significant progress” but added that his condition remains serious, and that it would be “absolutely premature” to make a long-term prognosis.

Zanardi, 53, suffered serious facial and cranial trauma in the crash and was put in a medically induced coma. Doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

He was operated on several times to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face and the Milan hospital added that he recently had undergone another surgery to reconstruct his skull and would have another one in the coming weeks.

Zanardi lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago. He won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class.