IRWINDALE, Calif. — It was a clean night at Irwindale Event Center. And that’s just how Todd Gilliland wanted it.
Leading the field from pole, and hot off a win in the first NAPA Auto Parts Twin 100 feature, the 16-year-old from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, held off a hard-charging Chris Eggleston to win for the third time in 2017 and 10th time in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West career.
The victory, his second at Irwindale, also awards him a $10,000 prize for finishing in the top-three spots in the four-race NAPA 500 Challenge Series.
The NASCAR Next driver’s win also marked Bill McAnally Racing’s 14th victory at the California short-track.
With only one caution in the opening 92 laps, it looked as though it would come easy to the reigning K&N Pro Series West champion. However, a spin from Takuma Koga set up a mad dash to the checkered with four laps to go.
Eggleston, diving his No. 99 NAPA Filters Toyota into Turn 1, grabbed the race lead for the first time of the night from Gilliland… for about 40 feet.
A swift over-under maneuver from Gilliland and his No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota quickly gave him the lead back by the time they reached Turn 3.
Repeating the show with two laps to go, Eggleston was unable to make the move work for the win. A second-place finish marks the fourth straight top-five finish for the 28-year-old Erie, Colorado, native.
Michael Self, 26, from Park City, Utah, was the only other man to win anything Saturday at Irwindale, as he took the top spot in final practice in his No. 9 Sunrise Ford/Eibach Springs/Lucas Oil Ford. In the race, Self grabbed a third-place finish followed by Derek Kraus and Will Rodgers, who earns a fourth straight top five, in fifth.
Julia Landauer finished sixth with Garrett Archer, who rebounded from a start-line violation, Nicole Behar, Blaine Perkins and Todd Souza completing the top 10.
The NAPA Auto Parts Twin 100s will air on NBCSN, Saturday, April 1 7p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT and 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will be back in action May 13 at Washington’s Spokane County Raceway.
CREDIT: NASCAR Home Tracks/Zach Catanzareti