Chris Eggleston didn’t know if he was going to be racing full-time in 2015 in any series or team. While working on designing fire sprinkler systems for the family business, Eggleston got a phone call from Bill McAnally with an offer to drive one of his cars in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West this season.
On Saturday night, he showed McAnally and everyone else that he earned that ride by winning the Taco King Catering/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, California.
The victory wasn’t easy as Eggleston, who was competing at the half-mile oval for the first time in his career, as he wasn’t sure if he would have enough tires under him to hold off a late challenge from any others in the field.
On a restart with 12 laps to go, Ryan Partridge was able to get a jump on Eggleston and take the lead going into turn one. But the caution flew a lap later when Andrew Porter spun in turn three.
On the final restart with six laps to go, Eggleston was able to get buy Ryan Partridge to secure the victory.
“I thought our day was over when I spun the tires on the second to last restart. The whole mood and tone went downhill on the radio and I felt like I let the team down,” Eggleston said after the race. “After that, I knew that we had to have the perfect restart, and it was pretty good. We didn’t spin the tires and got a good run going into turn one, and just had enough to clear Partridge off of turn two.
“I have to thank Bill McAnally Racing for giving me this opportunity. As of January, I didn’t have a ride and shouldn’t be here. Bill gave me a last minute shot and I am so excited to be here and put his car in victory lane.”
Behind Eggleston, it was a wild finish as Nicole Behar, Dalton Sargeant, Gracin Raz battled with Partridge for the second position.
With two laps to go, Sargeant would muscle his way past Partridge and bring Behar with him.
On the final lap, Behar was able to get by Sargeant in turns three and four to finish second in her fifth K&N West start.
“The last lap was crazy, I didn’t think I was going to get by Sargeant,” Behar said. “Coming off of turn two, I got under him a little bit and gave it everything I had.”
Behar was hoping for a strong finish after being involved in a wreck in the late going at the season opener at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.
“I had a good feeling with the car I had, that we would come out with a podium finish,” Behar said. “I think with a couple of more laps, we could have had the win. After what happened at Kern, I am definitely happy with the finish.”
Sargeant, who recorded his fourth consecutive podium finish in all of his K&N East and West starts, was hoping to give Eggleston a challenge for the win.
“It was a rough few laps there at the end. I was trying to run the apron and we burned our stuff up a little too much,” Sargeant explained. “When we fell back in the early going, we felt we hurt ourselves passing as many cars as we did to get back towards the front.”
But Sargeant still had something near the end to make a run.
“Oh yeah, it was a tough one. It was some good hard racing which I enjoyed,” Sargeant said. “Behar just got me there on the last corner. We used our right rear up a little bit too much trying to catch up to the leaders.”
Gracin Raz was also able to get by Partridge for fourth, as Partridge went from the lead to fifth in the final five laps.
The top four competed at Irwindale Speedway for the first time in their careers. The top 15 were on the lead lap at the checkered flag.
For Eggleston, getting a win at Irwindale Speedway was special.
“I have wanted to come to Irwindale so many times. I grew up sitting on the couch watching all of the tour guys coming down for the Showdown races. A lot of my friends came here, but we never made it here,” Eggleston recalled. “It was tough with our small mom and pop late model team. We could only go to so many places and with not having a crew chief; it made it extremely hard for us. When you get an opportunity to drive with one of the best K&N teams like Bill McAnally Racing, it gives you a little confidence going into the race and we got the win tonight.”
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will be in action on Saturday, May 2nd at Tucson Speedway in Tucson, Arizona for the Wildcat 150.
CLICK HERE for Race Central Live Powered by Speed51.com replay.
NASCAR K&N PRO SERIES WEST
King Taco Catering/NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Toyota
|17||6||James Bickford||149||1 Lap|
|18||36||John Wood||149||1 Lap|
|19||14||Matt Levin*||148||2 Laps|
|20||38||Andrew Porter*||146||4 Laps|
|21||5||Jack Sellers||146||4 Laps|
|22||8||Johnny Borneman||143||7 Laps|
|23||0||Bobby Hillis||136||14 Laps|
|24||15||Justin Funkhouser||129||21 Laps|
|25||13||Todd Souza||95||55 Laps|
|26||46||Hannah Newhouse*||33||117 Laps|
|27||84||Rich DeLong III||33||117 Laps|
-Kevin Ramsell, Speed51.com Director of Business/Midwest Editor. Twitter: @Kevin Ramsell
Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR