Todd Gilliland celebrates his fourth straight NASCAR K&N Pro Series West win
NASCAR K&N Pro Series West rookie Todd Gilliland has his own version of the Fantastic Four.
Gilliland won the NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, Calif. He has won his first four races in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and has joined a list of NASCAR greats that includes Dan Gurney, Tim Flock and Joey Logano. “We work as hard as we can. It’s been working out for us lately and we will continue to do that,” Gilliland said.
Gurney, an International Motorsports Hall of Famer, won his first four starts in the NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model Series, the predecessor to the K&N Pro Series West. Gurney won his races in combination with the Grand National Series at California’s Riverside Speedway. The Pacific Coast Late Model Series started in 1954.
Flock, a NASCAR Hall of Famer, and Logano, who won the 2015 Daytona 500, won their first two starts in the K&N Pro Series. Gilliland’s win streak started in the K&N Pro Series West season finale in November at Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona. He won the K&N Pro Series East season opener at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida in February. He won this third race in a row at the K&N Pro Series West season opener at Irwindale Speedway in California. His fourth win in a row came at Kern County Raceway Park.
Todd Gilliland fights for the lead at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California
“He has no idea. He’s just a racer,” said David Gilliland, Todd’s father and a NASCAR veteran. “He’s setting records that aren’t easy to set, that are old, and with legends in the auto racing industry. It’s amazing what he’s been able to accomplish. We’re just really proud. He’s been really humble about this, and he’s just a happy kid. A happy 15-year-old.”
Bill McAnally, who owns Gilliand’s team, said he had some reservations about putting a 15-year-old in the driver’s seat of one of his cars. His worries have been put to rest.
“He’s just a very special young man that I’ve had the extreme pleasure to work with … It’s incredible,” McAnally said. “I was worried about the pressure bothering him. But he just rolls with it. It’s amazing.”
Gilliland had his challenges in the race at Kern County. A red flag caution stopped the race with 15 laps to go. On the restart, Gilliland dropped to third and didn’t move back to the lead until lap 142. He led the last nine laps to take the checkered flag.
“At that point everyone on the radio was just telling me we are still in this,” Gilliland said. “Don’t get my head down at all. We knew we had a super fast car. Just go for it and give it everything you got.”
Ryan Partridge took the lead on the restart after the red flag on lap 135. He was able to stay out front for six laps before Gilliland passed him.
Todd Gilliland and his team are off to a great start in 2016 with two consecutive wins
“I’m not quite sure what happened on the restart behind us to bring out the red flag,” Partridge said. “I heard there was a car rolled over and what not. We rolled to the gas just a hair early but I waited for him to go. Once he saw me jump in front of him just a hair, he was playing games at that point.”
Partridge finished in second place for the second race in a row. Rookie Cole Rouse was third.
Gilliland won the pole and led a race-high 54 laps. Partirdge was out front for 45 laps. David Mayhew looked like a contender early in the race. He led for 31 laps, but gave up the lead to Partridge on lap 81. Mayhew cut a tire and fell back in the pack. He finished in sixth place.
Gilliland is the leader in the K&N Pro Series West standings after two races with 95 points. Partridge sits in second with 86. Chris Eggleston, the reigning K&N Pro Series West champion, is third with 81 points.
The next race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West is at Tucson Speedway in Arizona on May 7. Gilliland will try to continue his winning streak at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee for the K&N Pro Series East race on April 16.