As the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East makes its inaugural visit to Memphis International Raceway this week, Todd Gilliland is aiming for a win to close in on the lead in the championship standings.
Gilliland – who drives the Bill McAnally Racing No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry – is second in points, 18 markers out of first; with five events complete on this year’s 14-race schedule.
The 17-year-old from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina knows that winning the Memphis 125 on Saturday would be a boost to his championship effort. He heads to the 3/4-mile track in Millington, Tennessee with three top-five and five top-10 finishes this season.
“We have been up front with our NAPA Toyota in almost every race,” said Gilliland, a member of the NASCAR Next program that spotlights NASCAR’s rising stars. “It’s going to take wins to challenge for the title. We’ve had cars fast enough and been in position to win. Now we just need to close it out. There would be no place better than Memphis to make that happen.”
Based on a recent test at the track, Gilliland is anticipating an exciting event for the fans on Saturday.
“We tested there recently,” he said. “I think it’s going to make for a really good race. I look forward to the fans coming out to see the series.”
Gilliland is coming off finishes of second and third in Twin 100s, which comprised a K&N East doubleheader at Virginia’s South Boston Speedway in early May.
Saturday’s race marks the beginning of a busy stretch of races for the third-generation driver. During the next seven weeks he will compete in four K&N East races, two K&N West races, and three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races with Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Gilliland is racing the full schedules in the East and West divisions of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series this year. Last season he made five starts in the K&N East, while focusing on winning the championship as a rookie in the K&N West. He’s in contention for the K&N West title again this year and currently leads the championship standings by 11 points.
This week’s activities will feature a parade of the colorful team haulers on Friday afternoon. The parade is slated to begin at the Holiday Inn Express in Millington at 1:15 p.m. and wind its way to Memphis International Raceway.
An optional test session for the teams is scheduled at the track from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday evening.
Saturday’s race marks the return of NASCAR to Memphis International Raceway after an eight-year absence. The 3/4-mile tri-oval, located at what was then known as Memphis Motorsports Park, opened in June of 1998. It hosted 12 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events and 11 NASCAR XFINITY Series races before closing in late 2009.
NAPA AUTO PARTS is involved in the Memphis 125, with a NAPA Hospitality event that will feature a VIP driver appearance from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and VIP pit tours.
“We appreciate the NAPA Distribution Center in Memphis being a part of this event as NASCAR returns to Memphis International Raceway,” said BMR President Bill McAnally. “This is an exciting event and we look forward to a tremendous race for the great fans in the region.”
The race is scheduled to be televised on NBCSN on June 8 at 8 p.m. ET.