TUCSON, Ariz. (March 18, 2017) – Chris Eggleston took command of the NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 just past the midway point and pulled away to capture the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season opener at Tucson Speedway on Saturday.
Eggleston of Erie, Colorado charged past his Bill McAnally Racing teammate, Todd Gilliland, to score his sixth career series win in the No. 99 NAPA Filters / H20 Fire Protection Toyota Camry.
“Everybody on this NAPA Filters Toyota did a heck of a job,” Eggleston said. “With the guys missing their flight Friday, due to weather, everybody rebounded so nicely. We had a well-balanced race car yesterday in testing. We fine tuned on it. And even though we were good in practice, we just kept trying to find speed.
“I wouldn’t say we had the fastest car that first segment,” Eggleston said of the first half of the race. “Todd had us covered. Our crew made the right adjustments at the midway break and this NAPA Filters Toyota was digging.
“The last few restarts had me on my toes,” said the 2015 series champion. “I was nervous restarting on the top lane, but it was rolling really good. Overall, it was a great night for this Bill McAnally Racing organization.”
BMR drivers ran 1-2-3-4 in the early stages of the race – with Gilliland leading Eggleston, followed by series rookie Derek Kraus and Riley Herbst. Gilliland, Eggleston, and Kraus remained 1-2-3 through the midway point of the race.
Eggleston moved to the lead on Lap 93 and set the pace to the finish over Gilliland, who took the runner-up spot, despite an electrical issue on his No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry. Kraus held third before slipping to sixth in the No. 19 Carlyle Tools / NAPA Tools & Equipment Toyota Camry in the final stages of the race. Herbst came away ninth, meanwhile, in the UFC GYM / NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry.
The Tucson race is the first of four races in eight days that make up the biggest season kickoff in the history of the series. The NAPA 500 Challenge features 500 laps of competition in those four races at three tracks – Tucson Speedway; Kern County Raceway Park near Bakersfield, California; and Southern California’s Irwindale Speedway.
With his victory, Eggleston becomes the only driver in a position to grab a giant $100,000 bonus for winning all four races in the NAPA 500 Challenge. Other bonuses are on the line, as well, for drivers finishing in the top three, top five, and top 10 in all four events.
Gilliland, the defending series champion, picked up his seventh career series pole in qualifying for the Tucson race.
“We led most of the first half and was out front at the midway break,” said Gilliland, a 16-year-old from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina. “We didn’t quite make the right adjustments, or the 99 made really good adjustments. He was able to pass us.
“I felt like he was running too hard,” Gilliland said. “So we kind of let him go, but he just kept pulling away. He had a really fast car. Good job to Chris and everyone on that team.”
Kraus – a 15-year-old from Stratford, Wisconsin – came home sixth in his series debut.
Herbst, 17, of Las Vegas is a second-year driver who is running select events in the series this year.
NAPA activities at Tucson Speedway included a NAPA Hospitality event on Saturday. In addition, BMR provided NAPA guests with rides around the track in the two-seater NAPA Toyota on Friday.
The NAPA AUTO PARTS 150, the 15th visit by the series to 3/8-mile Tucson Speedway, is slated to be televised on NBCSN on March 24 at 5:30 p.m. PT.
The next event on the K&N Pro Series West schedule will be the NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 at Kern County Raceway Park near Bakersfield, California on Thursday, March 23, followed by twin NAPA 100s in a doubleheader at Irwindale Speedway on Saturday, March 25.