Teen Matches 50-Year-Old K&N Pro Mark With Victory At Kern
Jason Christley, NASCAR
April 3, 2016 - 2:23am
February and the K&N Pro Series West opener at California's Irwindale Speedway earlier this month. Gilliland, Gurney, NASCAR Hall of Famer Tim Flock (two straight) and 2015 Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano (two straight) are the only drivers in the history of the K&N Pro Series to win at least their first two career series starts.
"He has no idea. He's just a racer," said Todd's father, David, on Todd grasping the historical significance of his accomplishments. "He's setting records that aren't easy to set. That are old. And with legends in the auto racing industry. It's amazing what he's been able to accomplish. We're just really proud. He's been really humble about this, and he's just a happy kid. A happy 15-year-old."
Said car owner Bill McAnally: "He's just a very special young man that I've had the extreme pleasure to work with. ... It's incredible. I was worried about the pressure bothering him. But he just rolls with it. It's amazing."
The latest win may have been the toughest.
Gilliland's No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota lost the lead to Ryan Partridge following a Lap 132 restart, in which the caution flag came out for a wreck behind the leaders immediately after the green flag flew. Before the yellow, though, Gilliland not only lost the top spot, but also second place to Partridge's teammate Cole Rouse.
Following a lengthy red flag for cleanup, Gilliland quickly dispatched of Rouse, and then tracked down Partridge to make the pass and lead the final nine laps.
"I think we did what we could without getting dirty," Partridge said.
Partridge settled for his second runner-up finish of the season, while rookies Rouse and Riley Herbst, and defending series champion, Chris Eggleston, rounded out the top five.
Gilliland was fastest in practice, won his second 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Light of the K&N Pro Series West season. He then went on to lead three times for a race-high 54 laps on the three-year-old high-speed-half-mile.
David Mayhew, making his 100th career K&N Pro West start, led 31 laps and appeared to be in position to spoil Gilliland's streak. However, the series veteran cut a tire shortly after the halfway break and fell out of contention.
Mayhew came back to finished sixth, followed by Gracin Raz, Noah Gragson, Johnny Borneman and Julia Landauer.
The NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Kern County Raceway Park will air on NBCSN on Friday, April 8 at 11 p.m. EST.
Todd Gilliland will continue to chase history on April 16 as he's entered in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will return to action May 7 at Arizona’s Tucson Speedway.