DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Todd Gilliland is on the hunt to pick up his third straight victory this weekend at California’s Irwindale Speedway.
The 15-year-old Sherrils Ford, N.C., native won his first two NASCAR K&N Pro Series starts – the K&N Ro Series West finale at Arizona’s Phoenix International Raceway last November and the K&N Pro Series East opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in February.
The last driver to win his first two K&N Pro races was 2015 Daytona 500 champion Joey Logano in 2007. Logano finished 13th in his third career race after victories at Phoenix and South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway.
The Gilliland family has had plenty of success at Irwindale. Todd’s father, David, won three times there in the former NASCAR Southwest Series and won the 2003 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown non-points event for the K&N Pro Series. And Todd’s grandfather Butch finished third in the West’s inaugural event in 1999.
Gilliland will have quite a few competitors trying to stop him from making it three in a row. His Bill McAnally Racing teammate and defending champion, Chris Eggleston, won his first 2015 victory at the at the half-mile paved oval after leading 102 laps. His other teammate and fellow NASCAR K&N Pro Series West rookie, Riley Herbst, who won the 2015 Irwindale Speed Trucks championship and finished fifth in Irwindale’s late model division last season.
He’ll also have plenty of competition from Jefferson Pitts Racing teammates Noah Gragson and Gracin Raz, who finished runner-up and fourth in last year’s K&N West final standings as well as Bruncati Racing’s Ryan Partridge, who finished third in the standings. Last year, all three were battling for the title down to the final laps at Phoenix.
Partridge also has an edge at Irwindale, he claimed the track’s Late Model division crown in 2013-14 as well as earned the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series California championship in 2014.
RACE: Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150
PLACE: California’s Irwindale Speedway
DATE: Saturday, March 19
TIME: 8:00 p.m. PST
TV SCHEDULE: NBCSN, Friday, March 25 at 9 p.m. EST
TRACK LAYOUT: .5-mile paved oval
2015 WINNER: Chris Eggleston
2015 POLE SITTER: Dalton Sargeant
EVENT SCHEDULE: Garage opens – 9:00 a.m.; Rookie/Spotter Meeting: 10;15 a.m.; Practice: 12:30 to 1:15 p.m.; Final Practice: 1:45 to 2:30 p.m.; Driver/Crew Chief Meeting: 4:15 p.m.; Qualifying: 5:00 p.m.; Driver Autograph Session: 5:30 p.m.; Driver Introductions: 7:30 p.m.; Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150: 8:00 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT: Doug Stokes, VP Communications, (626) 358-1100 or [email protected]
TRACK TWITTER: @TheIEC
EVENT HASHTAG: #ToyotaNAPA150
The Race: The Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 is the first race of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season. It is the first of 11 oval track events and 14 races overall on the schedule. This is the series’ 24th visit to the Southern California facility.
The Procedure: The starting field is 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 22 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials while the remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps covering 75 miles.
The Track: Irwindale Speedway is a half-mile paved oval with blended banking of six, nine and 12 degrees in the corners and backing of six degrees in the straights. The track opened in May 1999 and has capacity for 6,500 spectators. The facility is located in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California and is just 25 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. There are multiple racing configurations available with half-mile and third-mile ovals along with a 1/8-mile drag strip.
The Records: The one-lap qualifying record was set by Butch Gilliland on June 19, 1999 at 17.871 seconds, 100.722 mph. The 150-lap race record was established by Austin Cameron at 1 hour, 0 minutes, 16 seconds, 75.664 mph on Oct. 23, 2004.
TOYOTA/NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 NOTES:
Championship Contenders Ready To Contend Again: Noah Gragson, Ryan Partridge, Gracin Raz and defending NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion, Chris Eggleston are gearing up for another championship battle. The four duked it out for the title last season with the fight for the trophy coming down to the final laps at Phoenix. Last year at Irwindale, Eggleston ended up in Victory Lane, while Raz finished fourth, Partridge in fifth and Gragson in seventh.
Veteran Advantage: Twelve of the 25 cars slated to compete in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 competed there last year with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. While a small handful of the rookies scheduled to compete this weekend have Irwindale experience. Most notable, Riley Herbst the track’s 2015 Super Truck champion and Trevor Huddleston, the defending Late Model champion.
Herbst, Landauer Join Bill McAnally Racing: Bill McAnally Racing has two new faces in their lineup this year: Herbst and Julia Landauer. Landauer, 24, from New York City, became the first woman to win a NASCAR championship in the Limited Late Model division at Virginia’s Motor Mile Speedway last year. BMR has won 11 of the 23 West races at Irwindale, including the last two with Eggleston and Patrick Staropoli (2014).
Rouse to Make Debut with Bruncati: Cole Rouse will field the second car for Sunrise Ford Racing in the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season. Rouse, 18, from Fort Smith, Arkansas, has spent the last three years racing late models on pavement in the Midwest. Last October, he led 160 of 300 laps in the All-American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee, before finishing fifth due to a failing rear end and broken shock. This season will mark his first in NASCAR competition.
Newberry to Field Two Cars: Bob Newberry and his Team NTS Motorsports will compete in the 2016 Irwindale opener with two new faces. Blaine Rocha and Parker Stephens will pilot the two NTS vehicles this weekend. Rocha competed full-time in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series for NTS Motorsports last year. The Oakdale, California, native, finished sixth in the SPEARS standings in his rookie season last year. Stephens, also competed in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour last season and earned the rookie of the year title and finished third in the standings.
Garcia Enters Rookie of the Year Battle: Juan Garcia is set to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West this season for owner, Joe Nava. Garcia, 18, from Bogotá, Colombia, earned the 2015 Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award for his competitiveness in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Garcia also has some Irwindale experience. He set the track’s youngest Division I winner at Irwindale in 2013 when he edged past three-time track champion Rip Michels by .003 seconds with a power move on the high side.
Newhouse to Drive for Jefferson Pitts Racing: Hannah Newhouse will pilot Jefferson Pitts Racing’s third car at Irwindale. The Twin Falls, Idaho, driver has competed in five NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events and recorded her best series’ finish, sixth, in her debut in Albuquerque in 2012. Newhouse is looking to bounce back from her Irwindale start last season, she finished 26th after being involved in a wreck on Lap 33.
Familiar Faces: Race winner Steve Portenga and runner-up Bill Sedgwick from the inaugural K&N Pro West race at Irwindale in 1999 will be at the track Saturday in different roles. Portenga is crew chief for Blaine Perkins, while Sedgwick is the crew chief for Rouse. In addition to Butch Gilliland, the top five from that first race also included Ron Hornaday Jr. and Mike Wallace. Brendan Gaughan, who was in the race and has also won three times at Irwindale, is slated to be a special guest Saturday along with five-time Irwindale winner Austin Cameron. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Chase Elliott is scheduled to make a special guest appearance on behalf of NAPA Auto Parts.
HOME TRACKS: Late Models to Kick-Off Race Action on Saturday
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season opener will feature some local racing. Irwindale Speedway’s Pick Your Part Late Models and RACECAR Factory Spec Late Models will start Saturday’s action. Trevor Huddleston, who will be competing in the K&N West race, currently leads the Pick Your Part Late Model division standings with 876 points, 34 points over runner-up Mike Johnson. Saturday night’s action will mark the first night of competition for the RACECAR Factory Spec Late Models.
-NASCAR Home Tracks Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Bruce Nuttleman