Todd Gilliland wins in NASCAR debut as K&N West champion crowned

Todd Gilliland won his first K&N Pro Series West race at Phoenix International Speedway in his first career start.

The 15-year-old son of NASCAR Sprint Cup veteran David and grandson of 1997 series champion Butch Gilliland started the Casino Arizona 100 ninth and quickly moved up through the filed. By Lap 26, he moved the No. 54 Frontline Enterprises Toyota into the top five. 

Gilliland was second when NASCAR halted the race for the halfway break. Although he spun his tires on the restart, he quickly regained his runner-up spot behind polesitter J.J. Haley. 

With five laps remaining in the race, Haley, who had led every lap, blew a right front tire and Gilliland inherited the lead. Gilliland lined up alongside William Byron for the green-white checkered on Lap 99. Although Byron was able to pass the No. 54 car temporarily, Gilliland had a 0.143-second advantage over the No. 91 Chevy at the white flag. When Gilliland rolled around for the checkered flag, he had extended his lead by 0.337-seconds at the line for the win. 

“It’s unfortunate for him,” Gilliland said of Haley. “We definitely had the second fastest car but you have to be in the position to capitalize on something like that. 

“I just can’t thank everyone enough. It’s awesome.”

Byron finished second followed by Brandon McReynolds, Dalton Sergeant, Landon Cassill and Harrison Burton. As the leaders crossed the line, Noah Gragson plowed into the back of championship rival Chris Eggleston, who finished 10th and won the series title. 

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Drivers Todd Gilliland
Article type Race report