CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In an announcement so quiet it didn’t show up on the radar until long after the NASCAR Touring Series Awards ended Friday night at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Chris Eggleston will not return to Bill McAnally Racing next year.
And to be fair, if you didn’t know from both parties that it was actually happening, you’d likely never have known that was the case until they didn’t show up together to kick off the new NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season next spring.
After all, there were smiles abound, enough handshakes given to thank a small army and a lot of recognition given by the driver to the car owner who helped launch his career into the national spotlight before a pair of exclusive interviews to Race Chaser Online confirmed the news as Friday night’s party began to wind down.
“Man, we’ve had so many good people and good drivers that have come through Bill McAnally Racing over the years, and Chris has certainly given us some great memories,” said McAnally of Eggleston. “We’ll always cherish the championship he won with us … and we’re certainly going to miss him dearly going forward.”
“At the same time though, we’ve got to keep at what we’ve built and continue to push ahead. We obviously have some openings in our lineup, with Todd moving on as well, but we’re looking forward to another great season next year — even as we’re here in Charlotte celebrating another championship this weekend.”
For Eggleston, his journey with the now eight-time K&N West champions began with McAnally “taking a chance on a small-town kid from Colorado” in 2014, when McAnally signed him to a one-race deal to drive at his home track, Colorado National Speedway.
Eggleston repaid that faith by going out, leading 107 of 150 laps that night and winning in just his second-career series start.
It led to a follow-up act the next race out at Iowa Speedway later that summer, and then blossomed into a full-time ride for the 2015 season, when Eggleston posted two wins, nine top-fives and 10 top-10s in 13 races en route to his first championship.
Two years later, after narrowly missing out on a second title to teammate Todd Gilliland, Eggleston said he is “forever grateful” to McAnally — even as they go down different paths for the future.
“I’ll be frank … I wouldn’t be standing in the NASCAR Hall of Fame talking to you tonight if it wasn’t for Bill and everything he’s done for me,” said Eggleston. “He took a leap of faith on me and we became the Cinderella story. I owe a lifetime of gratitude to him and to NAPA Auto Parts for letting me be a part of their family for the last few years. It’s been a ride that I’m personally never going to forget because of all the success and good times we’ve had together.”
“Bill and I left on extremely good terms. He’s one of my best friends and someone I consider family now, after everything we’ve gone through together,” Eggleston continued. “You never want to burn a bridge in this sport and even though we’re doing different things right now, I feel like my bridge with him is as strong as any relationship I have in this industry.”
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