Before the race started, Todd Gilliland entered the finale of the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season at Dover International Speedway with an eight-point lead over Harrison Burton. But Burton came away with the race win and the championship when the checkered flag waved, giving the son of former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Jeff Burton his first title.
Burton started the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 125 next to Gilliland in row two. They dueled for third and fourth position for most of the race’s first half.
However, Gilliland suffered a blown tire on Lap 56 and hit the turn one wall. He said there was a slight indication that something was wrong because the car felt tight in the couple of laps before the incident.
“[The car] was really tight to start the race and those last two or three laps before it blew, it got a little bit tighter,” Gilliland said. “I probably should have just slowed down a little bit, but it’s so hard to do here at Dover, and once I drove into turn one, it actually popped — like you could hear it.”
Gilliland finished the race 13th and second in the standings. However, he will still be competing in the K&N Pro Series West tour for the final three events of the year. He leads that championship by five points over Bill McAnally Racing teammate Chris Eggleston.
“I think Bill McAnally Racing over the last two years has made huge gains,” Gilliland said. “They’ve had to step up their game, and it’s really cool to be a part of it.
“It’s good and bad. It’s cool to see everyone pushing each other, but it’s kind of funny we’re racing [Eggleston] out there.”
The end of the race had a dramatic ending as Chase Purdy had an accident with two laps to go. The event was red flagged and went to overtime.
The 16-year-old Burton said the championship is “surreal” and felt honored to win at one of NASCAR’s most difficult venues.
“Last year, I remember looking at my teammate Justin Haley winning the championship, and I finished seventh in the points,” Burton said. “I wanted to be on the podium and making a speech, and now I get to be that guy.
“When I saw the 16 (Gilliland) hit the wall, I was as always asking if people were okay. I was glad to know he was okay, most importantly.
Burton led 18 laps in Friday night’s race. Eddie MacDonald finished second, Tyler Dippel third, Sheldon Creed fourth, and Jay Beasley fifth.
For an on-demand replay of Friday’s Trackside Now coverage presented by PFC Brakes, click here.
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 125
Dover International Speedway
Pos # Driver
- 12 Harrison Burton
2. 71 Eddie MacDonald
3. 30 Tyler Dippel
4. 40 Sheldon Creed
5. 42 Jay Beasley
6. 25 Enrique Baca
7. 41 Riley Herbst
8. 2 Collin Cabre
9. 04 Ronnie Bassett
10. 6 Ruben Garcia Jr
11. 4 Chase Cabre
12. 14 Trey Hutchens III
13. 16 Todd Gilliland
14. 44 Dillon Bassett
15. 17 Chase Purdy
-By John Haverlin, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent