Defending Champ Scores Second Consecutive K&N West Victory
DACONO, Colo. (June 11, 2016) – Chris Eggleston edged his Bill McAnally Racing teammate Todd Gilliland to win the NAPA AUTO PARTS / Toyota 150 at his home track of Colorado National Speedway on Saturday and capture his second consecutive victory in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
In addition to being his second win of the year, it marked the fifth career series victory for the defending series champion, who hails from nearby Erie.
It was also the second series win at CNS for the driver of the No. 50 NAPA Filters/H2O Fire Protection Toyota Camry. In addition, it marked BMR’s fourth win in five races this season.
Despite being teammates, Eggleston and the rookie Gilliland waged a fierce battle in the closing laps around the 3/8-mile oval – swapping the lead multiple times.
“That last restart there at the end with 10 to go, it got real exciting there for sure,” said Eggleston. “Todd dang near wrecked us, but we were able to get back by him with a couple laps to go.
“It was fun and a cool experience to share this with our fans here in Colorado,” he said. “That’s two in a row. I’m so proud of the BMR crew.”
Saturday’s race was delayed by about two hours due to a storm that moved through the area just after the event started. Gilliland, who captured his third pole of the season in qualifying, had his No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry out front for the initial laps before the rain. Eggleston took over after racing resumed and held command through 102 of the 150 laps.
“I didn’t know what the rain was going to do to the race track,” Eggleston said. “I was kind of skeptical there. But we got the lead and then a sizable lead. The car was very well balanced, thanks to Ty Joiner, my crew chief, working so hard all day. The 50th Anniversary NAPA Filters Toyota was definitely rolling.”
Gilliland, who slipped back as far as fourth midway through the race, started his charge to the front in the final 60 laps. He was up to second by Lap 107 and began to chase down Eggleston. Gilliland grabbed the lead about 30 laps later, but Eggleston was able to battle back. Gilliland mounted one more challenge and held the lead briefly before Eggleston regained it in the final laps.
“It was definitely a tough battle,” said Gilliland, a NASCAR Next driver. “It’s always stressful racing with your teammate like that, but when it comes down to the win you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Chris did an amazing job.
“I can’t thank my NAPA crew enough,” said the 16-year-old third-generation driver from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina. “We didn’t have a second-place car when we unloaded. They made changes and got it better. To have a chance to win like that is huge at any of these K&N races.”
BMR teammates Julia Landauer, Riley Herbst, and Cole Moore finished sixth, 13th, and 14th, respectively.
With his win, Eggleston moved to second in the championship standings – just behind Gilliland. Both drivers have two wins and five top-five finishes in the first five races this year. In addition to leading the overall standings, Gilliland also leads the rookie points.
Landauer, who drives the No. 54 Curb Records Toyota Camry, is fourth in the standings. The 24-year-old native New Yorker – who now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina – is second in rookie points. Also part of the NASCAR Next program that spotlights NASCAR’s rising stars, she has two top-five and five top-10 finishes in five starts.
Herbst, 17, of Las Vegas comes away from the Colorado event eighth in the standings and fourth in rookie points. The driver of the No. 19 NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry has one top-five and three top-10 finishes in five career series starts this year.
Moore, who is running select events on this year’s K&N West schedule, was making just his second series start – driving the No. 20 JM Environmental Toyota Camry. The 19-year-old from Granite Bay, California qualified third and ran in the top five until a late race incident.
The NASCAR weekend in Colorado featured a variety of NAPA activities, including a special get-together for some NAPA VIPs on Friday evening and the very popular NAPA Hospitality event at the track on Saturday.
The NAPA AUTO PARTS / Toyota 150, which is scheduled to be televised on NBCSN on June 16 at 7 p.m. ET, was the fifth event on a 14-race schedule. It marked the 14th visit by the series to CNS.
The next event on the series schedule is the Chevy’s Fresh Mex 200 at Sonoma (California) Raceway on June 25.
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Kevin W. Green
Bill McAnally Racing