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Gilliland Wins, Leads 1-2-3 BMR Finish At Spokane

Todd Gilliland went wire-to-wire to capture the win in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West action and lead a 1-2-3 finish for Bill McAnally Racing in the Toyota/NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 presented by DAA Auto Body Center at Spokane County Raceway on Saturday night.

His teammate, 15-year-old series rookie Derek Kraus, followed in second – with veteran driver Chris Eggleston taking third in the rain-delayed event.

Their finish gives BMR five wins in five races this season and puts the BMR trio 1-2-3 in the championship standings, as well.

It marked Gilliland’s fourth straight win this season in the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry, and the 11th career win in 20 series starts for the defending series champion. It also marked BMR’s 75th overall win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.

Gilliland – a 16-year-old from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina – set an additional mark in qualifying for the event by winning a record fifth consecutive pole. His teammates also made for a 1-2-3 BMR contingent in qualifying – with Kraus second on the speed chart in the No. 19 Carlyle Tools Toyota Camry, followed by Eggleston being third in the No. 99 NAPA Filters / H2O Fire Protection Toyota Camry.

The trio held the top three spots throughout the 150-lap race, with Eggleston initially taking second before Kraus charged back into the runner-up spot and closed in on Gilliland as the leader worked lapped traffic around the half-mile oval.

Although he led the entire race, Gilliland admitted they did not have a fast car earlier in the day.

“When we unloaded, we were not very good to start,” he said. “Everyone really put their heads down and kept digging and didn’t worry about speed or whatever anyone else was doing. We really just focused on our NAPA Toyota and the feel of it. We got it driving quite a bit better.

“We were fastest in qualifying and that set us up great for the race,” he said. “We were able to get out to the lead and manage it from there.”

Gilliland admitted he was aware during the race that his younger teammate was closing in on him in traffic.

“They were telling me about him on the radio,” Gilliland said. “Derek did an amazing job today. I’m sure he’ll get a win before the season is over. I’m just happy we could hold him off this time.”

With his victory, Gilliland extended his lead in the championship standings to 20 points over Eggleston, the 2015 series champion from Erie, Colorado. Along with his four wins, Gilliland has five top-five finishes in five starts this year. Eggleston, meanwhile, has one win and five top-five finishes.

Although Kraus was able to get to Gilliland’s rear bumper as they approached lapped cars, he was not able to mount a serious challenge for the lead.

“We got to second and rode a little bit until the break,” Kraus said. “After the break we got going, but caught lapped traffic.”

Nevertheless, the teenager from Stratford, Wisconsin expressed confidence in his team’s performance in his first five series races. With three top-five and four top-10 finishes, Kraus is up to second in rookie points and third in the overall standings, behind Eggleston.

“It feels really good,” Kraus said. “The whole BMR crew does a great job in preparing these cars for the weekend.”

Saturday’s race, which marked the fourth visit by the series to this track, is slated to be televised on NBCSN on May 17 at 10 p.m. PT.

In setting a series record with his fifth consecutive pole, Gilliland surpassed a mark of four straight poles – set by Jim Insolo in 1978 and matched by Ron Eaton in 1982. Gilliland now has 11 career series poles.

The BMR drivers had a busy week, with numerous local appearances leading up to the race in Spokane. They were featured at two large NAPA Tools & Equipment sales events in the area, and greeted fans and signed autographs at a special event at DAA Northwest.

NAPA guests also got a chance to meet the drivers at the track on Friday and get a ride around the half-mile oval in BMR’s two-seater NAPA Toyota.

Prior to the race on Saturday, the BMR drivers made a special visit to the huge NAPA Hospitality, which also included guests from Larry H. Miller Downtown Toyota Spokane and from DAA Auto Body Center.

The next event on the K&N Pro Series West schedule will be at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, California on May 20.