By Louis Brewster, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 08/03/17, 9:37 AM PDT | Updated: 10 hrs ago
Todd Gilliland, the 17-year-old stock car driver who used to live in Chino Hills, is on the verge of making NASCAR history Friday at Watkins Glen International for a K&N Pro Series East race.
The son of former NASCAR Cup driver David Gilliland and grandson of one-time NASCAR Winston West champion Butch Gilliland is in the field for the Finger Lakes Wine Country 100. Winner of three of the past four East races, Gilliland trails series leader Harrison Burton by six points. The 16-year-old Burton is the son of former Cup champion Jeff Burton.
If Gilliland finishes ahead of Burton, he would be the first driver to lead the West and East standings at the same time. Gilliland leads Bill McAnally Racing teammate Chris Eggleston by 18 points in the West standings, thanks to his victory last week at the East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway for a second consecutive year. It was the fourth consecutive win by BMR in the prestigious race. Overall in the two divisions, Gilliland has seven wins, 13 Top 5 and 18 Top 10 finishes in 18 starts.
It was his third victory in four races and his 15th career win in the West Series for the Sherills Ford, North Carolina resident. He held off several challenges in the second half and pulled away for the win after a late-race restart with less than 10 laps remaining.
“Everything’s coming together right now for our NAPA Toyota team,” said Gilliland, who is running the full schedules this year in both K&N divisions. “It really puts my mind back into the championship battle. Every win we get closer. Gaining on your competitors always feels good. We’ve got to keep it up.
“Coming to the East-West combination race is always huge for both divisions to prove they’re the best. Running both divisions this year, it’s cool to race against the same people who usually run up front and get the opportunity to solidify our place.”
This will be Gilliland’s debut on the world-famous 2.45-mile road course.
“Everything’s coming together right now for our NAPA Toyota team. It really puts my mind back into the championship battle. Every win, we get closer. Gaining on your competitors always feels good. We’ve got to keep it up,” Gilliland said. “The finishes are really coming in right now and we need to keep the momentum rolling.”
The next event on the West schedule will be the NAPA 150 on Aug. 12 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington.
• Ever think about how it would be to have a hot garage pass for the 2018 NASCAR Cup race at Auto Club Speedway? Or a red carpet pass to Sunday’s drivers meeting? Or how about a pass to Victory Circle and a photo with the race winner or an autographed item from Chase Elliott and Dave Blaney? Perhaps an opportunity to wave the green flag in Friday’s qualifying is more to your liking. Those items are among the many in the Renew to Win Contest open to those who renew their seats and/or RV spot for the March 18 race. Fans have until Sept. 5 to renew before tickets go on sale to the public Oct. 9. For grandstand renewals, fans can renew for $10 down and RV customers can renew for 25 percent down and both have the option to set up a payment plan.
• The So Cal Oval Karters return Saturday night to the Grand Arena at Industry Hills Expo Center, along with Wheel2Wheel Raceway Speedway Sprints and Dirt Karts and the Norco Mower Racers. Spectator gates will open at 2:30 p.m. with racing 30 minutes later. “Everybody eagerly awaits this race every year,” So Cal Oval Karters’ Mike Nigh said. “It is just such a wonderful, modern venue with a racing surface that is second to none. Just everything about the place is great. It is our Daytona 500 and it should bring out our biggest field of the year.”
• San Bernardino’s Orange Show Speedway will be in action Saturday night. Open Late Models, Street Stocks, Mini Stocks, Bandoleros, Barber Pole and Open Comp are set to compete. In one of the track’s tightest divisions, Barry Karr has a 12-point lead over Robert Kiemele and Zachary St. Onge in Open Late Model.
• Irwindale Speedway will be dark for a week, though the dragstrip will host the NHRA Summit Series on Sunday and Thursday Night Thunder on Aug. 10. On Saturday, Trevor Huddleston won one of two Late Model races and finished second in the other to maintain his points lead. Nick Joanides also won a main event and is second in points, trailing Huddleston by 56. Ryan Vargas is third. In the Irwindale Truck series, Lucas McNeil has a four-point edge over Dennis Arena. Zach Green is a distant third with four races remaining.
• Perris Auto Speedway will be dark the next two Saturday nights, returning to competition Aug. 19 with the PASSCAR Stock Car Series and IMCA Modifieds. On Aug. 26, USAC/CRA Sprint Cars and the PAS Senior & Young Gun Sprints will return. The final Night of Destruction is scheduled for Sept. 2.
• It was vintage Jeremy McGrath at a recent Geico Off Road Shootout at the inaugural Lucas Oil Speedway event in Wheatland, Missouri, going from last to first to win his third Pro 2 race of the season. McGrath passed three trucks on the last lap for the win. “We were having a tough time. But we set up the truck for late in the race,” McGrath said. “The track is tough on the trucks; my guys provided me a great truck at the end.”
• NASCAR has further restricted Cup drivers who compete in the Xfinity and Camping World Trucks. The 2018 driver participation guidelines will limit drivers with more than five years of full-time experience in the Monster Energy Cup Series to a maximum of seven Xfinity races and five Truck races. Additionally, Cup drivers will be ineligible to compete in the regular season finale and playoff races in each series, as well as the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash races.
• Time to plan ahead for the EnduroCross finals Nov. 18 at Ontario’s Citizens Business Bank Arena. The off-road-style motorcycle riders will tackle various obstacles including rocks, boulders, logs, sand, mud, giant tires and a water hole. Leading the field will be world and series champion Colton Haaker, two-time titlist Cody Webb and female champion Lexi Pechout. Practice from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday is free, but tickets will be required for the 7:30 event.
In advance of the event, kids ages 9-11 will race electric motorcycles from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 23 on a riding pit zone course set outside Citizens Business Bank Arena. For no charge, experts will teach the kids how to ride.