ROSEVILLE, Calif. – Todd Gilliland and Chris Eggleston started out the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season first and second, and 12 races later, nothing has changed as they prepare to settle their score once and for all.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship will be decided between the two Bill McAnally Racing teammates this weekend, as the series closes out its season under the lights at Kern County Raceway Park on Saturday.
Gilliland leads Eggleston by 11 points entering the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame 150 presented by NAPA Auto Parts at the high-banked, half-mile track, with fellow BMR teammate Derek Kraus leading a torrid battle for third in the championship standings.
But it’s been the front two who have largely been nose-to-tail all season long.
Gilliland, the defending titlist, and Eggleston, the 2015 champion, have combined to win 10 of 13 races so far this season. Regardless of which of the two of them wins the title, it will deliver BMR a third consecutive and record eighth overall series championship.
For McAnally, he says that this season’s success is more about the drivers in his seats rather than just his work as the team owner.
“(The credit) goes to our drivers, first and foremost,” McAnally said. “They’ve been smart behind the wheel. We can do whatever we want at the shop, but coming to the race track, they can do something like not have enough patience or try too hard too early and give it away. So it’s about the drivers, but it’s also about the people. Everybody involved this year at BMR really cares. They’re putting the effort and rising to the occasion.”
Gilliland, the defending champion, can clinch the title by finishing seventh or better. He has six wins, 10 top-five, and 12 top-10 finishes in 13 series starts this season behind the wheel of BMR’s No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota Camry.
The 17-year-old has scored two wins at Kern County, one last year and another earlier this season. A member of the NASCAR Next program, he is coming off a second-place finish at Roseville, California in the series’ penultimate race.
But Gilliland’s confidence is higher than ever. In fact, he terms Kern County his favorite track on the calendar.
“I feel pretty good,” Gilliland said of his emotions entering the final race of the season. “It’s going to be a big race for us. After our last test out here, I think we’re going to be ready for it. We just have to keep at it. We’ve had really fast cars at Kern. I think we’ve won the last two races there. People are going to be watching us, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Born in the Golden State, Gilliland moved with his family to North Carolina when he was a youngster. In addition to racing in the West division of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series this year, he also ran the full schedule in the East division – where he finished second in the championship standings.
Gilliland’s second place points finish in the East was a bitter one, as he led the title chase entering the final day of the East season at Dover Int’l Speedway before a tire failure mid-race sent him into the wall and out of contention.
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