Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Gilliland Hopes for a Repeat in Idaho on his Road to a Title


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West enters its stretch run with the NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208 presented by Perfect Hydration and Lights Out at Meridian Speedway in Meridian, Idaho, on Saturday, September 30.

With just three races remaining, it has turned into a two-horse race atop the field as Bill McAnally Racing teammates Todd Gilliland and Chris Eggleston have locked into a season-long battle that is coming down to the wire. Gilliland, the defending series champion, has a series-leading six wins through 11 races this season and leads Eggleston — a four-time race winner this season — by five points as the series heads to Idaho.

Last season, Gilliland used the Meridian stop as a way to cement his championship aspirations. He won the race, while his closest title pursuer, Ryan Partridge, finished 11th. Gilliland left the weekend with his point lead at 25 — nearly double what he’d entered with.

Eggleston finished ninth at Meridian a year ago, and he’ll certainly try and improve on that to close the gap on Gilliland.

RACE: NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208 presented by Perfect Hydration and Lights Out
PLACE: Meridian Speedway, Meridian, Idaho
DATE: Saturday, September 30
AIRDATE: NBCSN, Sunday, Oct. 8 at 11 p.m. ET
TIME: 8:30 p.m. MT
TRACK LAYOUT: .25-mile asphalt oval
2016 WINNER: Todd Gilliland
2016 POLE WINNER: Ryan Partridge
EVENT SCHEDULE: Saturday, September 30 — Garage opens: 12 p.m.; Practice: 2:45-3:30 p.m.; Final practice: 3:45-4:30 p.m.; Qualifying: 5:30 p.m.; Driver autograph session: 6 p.m.; NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208 presented by Perfect Hydration and Lights Out: 8:30 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT: John Brown, Public Relations, (208) 888-2813
TWITTER: @meridianspeed
NASCAR IMC CONTACT: Brooke Franceschini, (386) 631-6142, bfranceschini@nascar.com.
The Race: The NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208 will be the 12th of 14 races on the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule.

The Procedure: The starting field is 22 cars, including provisionals. The first 18 cars will be determined by qualifying with the remaining four spots being awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 208 laps covering 52 miles.

The Track: Meridian Speedway is a quarter-mile asphalt oval that has been in operation since 1951.

Race Winners: There have been three different winners in the three previous NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races held at Meridian Speedway. Ray Elder won the inaugural race at the track in 1972, with Noah Gragson winning the series’ return in 2015.

Track Records: Noah Gragson holds the track qualifying record at 69.140 mph (13.017 seconds), set in a Ford in September of 2015. The race record also belongs to Gragson’s Ford at 39.361 mph (1 hour, 19 minutes, 16 seconds) set in that same event.

Quarter Way: The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West has visited only one quarter-mile this season, with Chris Eggleston winning at California’s Orange Show Speedway. A year ago, the series made three trips to quarter-miles, with Todd Gilliland winning twice — including Meridian.

Short tracks will be key to the title chase, with all three of the final events of the year being contested on tracks a half-mile or less in length.

Double Duty: Gilliland is attempting to become the first driver two win both K&N Pro Series championships — East and West — in the same season.

With one race left in the East, Gilliland has an eight-point lead over Burton. With three races remaining in the West, the defending series champion is atop the standings by five points with a series-leading six wins through 11 races this season.

Winning Form: While he’s still searching for his first career West win, Will Rodgers has found success on the other side of the continent.

Rodgers has two wins this season in the K&N Pro Series East, including that series’ most recent event at New Jersey Motorsports Park on September 16. Rodgers also won in August at New York’s Watkins Glen International.

The 22-year-old from Murrieta, California, held off both East title contenders — Gilliland and Burton — to win each of those two races.

Rookie Battle: The Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award continues to be a battle this season.

While Derek Kraus holds a six-point advantage over Will Rodgers in the official rookie standings, the two drivers sit much closer than that in the overall standings. Kraus is third, just two points ahead of Rodgers.

Rodgers has more top fives (seven) and more top 10s (nine) than Kraus, though Kraus has finished second on three different occasions this season — at California’s Kern County Raceway Park, Spokane (Wash.) County Raceway and Colorado National Speedway — as he knocks on the door of his first series win.

In operation since 1951, Meridian Speedway is home to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing, including the Division I Modifieds and the Division II Super Stocks.