Thursday, May 11, 2017

No Signs of Gilliland Slowing Down in Title Defense

No Signs of Gilliland Slowing Down in Title Defense
No Signs of Gilliland Slowing Down in Title Defense

Every driver in every car not lettered with the No. 16 on the side will be out to stop the momentum of reigning series champion Todd Gilliland when the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West returns to action in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Spokane County Raceway in Washington on Saturday, May 13. The race marks the series’ first visit to Spokane since 2013.

A member of the 2016-2017 NASCAR NEXT class, Gilliland has won three of the first four races of the season, giving him nine wins over the last 15 months, and his sweep of the NAPA Auto Parts Twin 100s at California’s Irwindale Event Center in late March built him a 13-point cushion over teammate Chris Eggleston atop the standings a quarter of the way through the schedule. Eggleston, who won the season opener at Arizona's Tucson Speedway, has been the only driver to slow the 16-year-old Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, teen’s march toward a second consecutive championship.

Gilliland became the youngest NASCAR champion, national or touring, in history by winning the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West title.

While the two Bill McAnally Racing drivers have combined to win the first four races of the 2017 season and sits one-two atop the standings, they aren’t the only drivers off to a hot start. Rookie Will Rodgers is the only other driver to finish in the top five in every single race to date. Rodgers, 22, finished a career-best third at California’s Kern County Raceway Park before posting back-to-back fifth-place finishes in the twin features at Irwindale.

Part of Gilliland’s success this season, without question, has been his ability to start up front. He’s won all four pole positions this season and hasn’t finished worse than second. In his young K&N Pro Series West career, Gilliland has 10 wins, 10 poles, 16 top fives and 18 top 10s in just 19 starts. He’s only finished outside the top 10 once — at California’s Sonoma Raceway last June, a 24th-place finish that he followed by winning the next three consecutive races. That streak matches his current career-best three-race winning streak.

RACE: Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150
PLACE: Spokane County Raceway, Spokane, Washington
DATE: Saturday, May 13
TIME: 8:15 p.m., PT
AIRDATE: NBCSN, Friday, May 19 at 10 p.m. PT
TRACK LAYOUT: Half-mile oval
2016 WINNER: N/A
EVENT SCHEDULE: Saturday, May 13 – Garage opens: 11 a.m.; Practice: 3-3:45 p.m., 4-4:45 p.m.; Group qualifying: 5:15 p.m.; Driver autograph session: 6:25 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT: Germane Smith, (916) 676-0010 or
TWITTER: @spokaneraceway
NASCAR IMC CONTACT: Brooke Franceschini, (386) 631-6142),

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