Title Picture Becomes Clearer as Season Heads Into Homestretch
The two most dominant drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West this season are on a championship collision course which continues with the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Toyota on Saturday, August 12, at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington.
Winning eight of the nine races between them thus far this season, current point leader and reigning champion Todd Gilliland and 2015 series champion Chris Eggleston head into Evergreen separated by just 18 points. The Bill McAnally Racing teammates rank first and second in the series in top-five finishes in 2017 and, not surprisingly, are the only two drivers to finish in the top-ten in every race.
Eggleston won the season opener at Arizona’s Tucson Speedway and followed with back-to-back victories at California’s Orange Show Speedway and Colorado National Speedway in the spring. He has seven top-fives with five races remaining on the schedule. Gilliland, meanwhile, has five wins including the most recent event at Iowa Speedway and a four-race winning streak that followed a runner-up finish in the season opener. The NASCAR Next driver has eight top-fives this year and is the defending winner at Evergreen.
Given the tight nature of the championship battle entering the final third of the season, neither driver will want to give an inch at Evergreen this weekend.
The Race: The NAPA Auto Parts 150 will be the tenth of 14 races on the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule.
The Procedure: The starting field is 24 cars, including provisionals. The first 20 cars will qualify through the group qualifying process with the remaining four spots being awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 150 laps covering 93.75 miles. The race will be run in two segments, with a five-minute break at or near the conclusion of lap 75.
The Track: Evergreen Speedway is a semi-banked 0.646-mile oval with turns banked eight degrees and four degrees banking in the straights. It is the only NASCAR-sanctioned track in the state of Washington.
Race Winners: There have been 35 different winners in the 53 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races held all-time at Evergreen Speedway. Jack McCoy, who won the inaugural race at the track in 1967, is tied with Ray Elder with five career victories at Evergreen.
Track records: The one-lap series qualifying record at Evergreen was established by Greg Pursley at 101.862 mph (22.831 seconds) in July of 2011. The 150-lap race record was set by David Mayhew at 75.572 mph (1 hour, 16 minutes, 56 seconds) in August of 2015.
NAPA Auto Parts 150 Presented by Toyota Notes:
Lots of History: As the only NASCAR Whelen All-American Series sanctioned track in Washington state, Evergreen Speedway has enjoyed plenty of history on the site of the Evergreen State Fairgrounds — which has held NASCAR racing dating back 50 years to its inaugural NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race in 1967.
A number of drivers based in the west helped launch their NASCAR national series careers with wins at the .646-mile oval. Former Daytona 500 champions Bill Elliott and Derrike Cope have K&N Pro Series West wins at Evergreen. Former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Chad Little has three career victories at the speedway. Brendan Gaughan, Bill Sedgwick, and Rick Carelli are also among the list of drivers who have victories at Evergreen on their resumes prior to moving up to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series ranks.
Rookie Battle: Behind the battle for the series championship, Derek Kraus, and Will Rodgers are enjoying impressive rookie seasons in the K&N Pro Series West. Kraus sits third in the overall standings with five top-fives and six top-tens, while Rodgers is fourth with five top-fives and seven top-tens through nine races.
Kraus has three top-two finishes this season and heads to Evergreen after winning his first career series pole the last time out at Iowa. Rodgers has three podium finishes this year, including his first career pole at California’s Sonoma Raceway in what turned into a runner-up finish to 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick.
Series Debut: Tayler Riddle of Naches, Washington, will make his series debut this weekend in the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Toyota.
The Super Late Model driver, who lives 160 miles south of Evergreen Speedway, has enjoyed success at the track in the past. He won the prestigious Summer Showdown at the Washington state short track in 2016 and also has a Tucson Speedway Chilly Willy 100 win under his belt, which he earned in 2015.
Riddle will drive the No. 27 Don Riddle Excavating Ford for Jefferson Pitts Racing on Saturday.
Owner/Driver: Jesse Iwuji will continue pulling double duty this weekend at Evergreen.
The driver of the No. 36 The Red List Group/Lights Out Chevrolet, owned by former NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman, will also own the No. 14 Patriot Motorsports Group Ford piloted by 17-year-old Andrew Engberson of Lewisville, Texas. Engberson has competed twice for Iwuji in the K&N Pro Series West this season, with a best finish of 13th at Washington’s Spokane County Raceway.
NASCAR Home Tracks: Evergreen Speedway
Evergreen Speedway is Washington state’s only NASCAR-sanctioned track and hosts NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing in Super Late Model, Street Stock, and Mini Stock divisions among its season-long racing program.
The NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Toyota at Evergreen Speedway is on Saturday, August 12th at 9:30 pm ET and will air on NBC Sports Network on Thursday, August 17th at 1 pm ET. The defending race winner and pole sitter is Todd Gilliland the series points leader.