DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Most drivers will tell you that the key to winning races is starting up front. Defending NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Todd Gilliland is taking that adage to new heights as the series heads to California’s Orange Show Speedway on Saturday for the Orange Show 150.
With Gilliland’s 21 Means 21 Pole Award last weekend at Washington’s Spokane County Raceway, the Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, driver earned his record breaking fifth consecutive pole — the previous record of four straight was established by Jim Insolo in 1978 and shared by Ron Eaton, who accomplished the feat in 1982.
Now with five consecutive poles and the point lead heading into Orange Show, Gilliland, who became the youngest NASCAR national or touring series champion last season, is on the verge of making even more history. The 17-year-old, the NASCAR Next driver celebrated his birthday on Monday, has his sights set on a fifth consecutive win to tie the series mark set by Hershel McGriff, who won five straight races during the 1972 season.
In an interesting bit of symmetry, one of McGriff’s wins during that record-setting run came at Orange Show. He won his fourth of his five consecutive wins at the San Bernardino oval during the 30-race season in which McGriff won 12 times.
RACE: Orange Show 150
PLACE: Orange Show Speedway, San Bernardino, California
DATE: Saturday, May 20
TIME: 8:15 p.m., PT
AIRDATE: NBCSN, Friday, May 26 at 8 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .25-mile asphalt oval
2016 WINNER: Chris Eggleston
2016 POLE WINNER: Ryan Partridge
EVENT SCHEDULE: Saturday, May 20 – Garage opens: 11:45 a.m.; Practice: 2:45-3:30 p.m., 3:45-4:30 p.m.; Group qualifying: 5 p.m.; Driver autograph session: 6 p.m.; Orange Show 150: 8:15 p.m.
EVENT HASHTAG: #OrangeShow150
The Race: The Orange Show 150 will be the sixth of 14 races on the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 22 cars, including provisionals. The first 18 cars will secure starting positions based on the group qualifying process. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps (37.5 miles) with a five-minute break occurring at or near the conclusion of lap 75.
The Track: A .25-mile asphalt oval, Orange Show Speedway is the longest continually-operated race track in the nation, having held competition since 1947.
Race Winners: There have been six different winners in the nine previous NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races held at Orange Show. Jack McCoy won four times at the speedway, including three straight from 1969-1971.
Pole Winners: In the six previous events at Orange Show, there have also been six different pole winners. There have only been two drivers to take home multiple poles at Orange Show, Jack McCoy and Ray Elder. McCoy won three poles at the .25-mile oval while Ray Elder earned two.
Orange Show 150 Notes:
Success Rate: Chris Eggleston, who won the season opener at Arizona’s Tucson Speedway, returns to Orange Show as the track’s winningest active driver at the track. In fact, he’s the only driver entered in the Orange Show 150 to have previously win at the San Bernardino oval.
Eggleston won last year’s 150-lap event at Orange Show in the series’ return to the facility after a 38-year absence. Eggleston led the final seven laps en route to victory after starting third in the field, taking the lead from pole sitter Ryan Partridge in the closing stages of the event.
The Erie, Colorado, native and the 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion, has five top-five finishes through five races this season, having finished on the podium in all but the second event of the season at California’s Kern County Raceway Park, where he finished fourth.
Rookie Crop: A total of four rookies sit in the top nine positions in the K&N Pro Series West standings headed into the Orange Show 150.
Derek Kraus of Stratford, Wisconsin, ranks third in the standings and is closing in his first career win. Kraus, who has three top-five finishes through the first five races of the season, finished second at Spokane last weekend. It was his second series career runner-up finish.
Garret Archer sits fourth, just three points behind Kraus, with an identical stat line of three top fives and four top 10s through the first five races. Will Rodgers is sixth in the standings and Kody Vanderwal ninth.
Learning Curve: Jesse Iwuji returns to the site of his best career finish this weekend at Orange Show.
Iwuji, of Carrollton, Texas, posted his only career top-10 finish at Orange Show last season, and the timing of the tight quarter-mile on the schedule couldn’t be better for the 29-year-old driver. Iwuji enters this weekend coming off his best finish of the season, 15th at Spokane County.
Iwuji is driving the No. 36 Champion Parts/Lights Out/Bullet Proof Energy Chevrolet owned by former National Football League linebacker Shawne Merriman.
Big Apple: After finishing fourth in the final standings a year ago to become in the highest-finishing female in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West history, Julia Landauer’s season got off to a slow start before taking steps in the right direction over the last two races.
Landauer, of New York, New York, enters Orange County off three straight top-10 finishes, including a sixth-place run in the second event of the NAPA Auto Parts Twin 100s at California’s Irwindale Event Center and a seventh-place finish at Spokane. She has moved from 12th to seventh in the standings with her impressive runs as of late.
Last season, Landauer posted the second of her seven top-five finishes at Orange Show, where she started eighth and was one of only nine cars to finish on the lead lap.
-NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com