While challenger Ryan Partridge did everything in his power to deny sixteen-year-old Todd Gilliland from his quest to collect even more NASCAR history, Todd, a third generation racer, was not to be denied.
Gilliland – a California native who now resides in Sherrills Ford, North Carolina was leading the championship standings by 25 points heading into this final event. He needed a mire twenty-first or better finish to wrap up the title. He had already secured this year’s Rookie of the Year Award.
Partridge was fastest in both practices Saturday morning, and started on the front row. Qualifying had been canceled due to rain. He then dominated the evening's race. Last year’s champion Chris Eggleston and talented female racer Julia Landauer rounded out the podium. Todd Gilliland finished eight.
That top-ten finish was good enough to propel Gilliland to the title as he became the youngest champion in the history of the NASCAR national or touring series at sixteen years, five months.
It was just the latest NASCAR historic mark Gilliland matched or eclipsed in his first full season.
Gilliland’s six 2016 series victories matched the win total posted by Greg Pursley (2011), Brendan Gaughan (2001) and Doug George (1995) as the most in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West since Jimmy Insolo won nine in 1978.
Gilliland joins Scott Lynch (2003) and Lance Hooper (1996) as the only drivers to win both the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title and the championship in the same year. He joins his grandfather as a NASCAR champion. Butch Gilliland won the 1997 West crown, while Todd's father David had his best series points finish of third in 2009.
The Toyota / NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 presented by TriCo Welding Supplies will be televised to a national audience on NBCSN on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. ET.
Gilliland, Partridge and other top performers from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will be honored on Saturday, Dec. 10 in Charlotte for the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards celebration. The event will be held at the NASCAR Hall of Fame at the Charlotte Convention Center for the seventh consecutive year.
RACE STATISTICS Fastest Qualifier: Blaine Perkins *, Time: 999999 Seconds
Time of Race: 1 hrs., 0 mins, 52 secs Average Speed: 50.552 mph Margin of Victory: .221 Seconds
Caution Flags: Laps 11-17 (07 & 27 Made contact T1 - 36 Free Pass); 21-28 (39 Spun T 1 - 15 Free Pass); 33-55 (39 & 15 Made Contact T4 - 27 Free Pass); 82-89 (06 Spun 55 made Contact T4 -No FP); 118-124 (15 Spun T4 - 14 Free Pass); 129-133 (19 Spun T4 - 18 Free Pass); 147-151 (18, 06 &38 Spun T4 - 19 Free Pass). 7 for 63 laps.
Lap Leaders: Ryan Partridge 1-151, Chris Eggleston 152, Ryan Partridge 153-154.
Total Laps Led: Ryan Partridge 153, Chris Eggleston 1. 3 changes involving 2 drivers.
Top 10 Driver Points:
- Todd Gilliland * 594
- Ryan Partridge 581
- Noah Gragson 552
- Julia Landauer * 528
- Gracin Raz 524
- Chris Eggleston 518
- Riley Herbst * 510
- Cole Rouse * 509
- Blaine Perkins * 475
- Jesse Iwuji * 404
Photo credit: Sal Sigala Jr.