Gilliland Chasing History With Winning Ways

Gilliland Chasing History With Winning Ways

K&N Pro Victory At Kern Would Match Gurney’s 50-Year-Old Mark

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Todd Gilliland heads to Bakersfield, California, on the hottest winning streak in 50 years.

Even if he doesn’t equal the all-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series mark for consecutive victories to start in the series, the 15-year-old from Sherrill’s Ford, North Carolina, is in pretty exclusive company.

It’s a club that includes two drivers in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, the 2015 Daytona 500 winner and Gilliland. That’s it. In the 62-year history of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series – dating back to the West Series’ beginnings as the Pacific Coast Late Model Series – just four drivers in both the East and West have won the first two series races to start their career.

Dan Gurney. Tim Flock. Joey Logano. And the most recent addition: A third-generation driver with California roots and a North Carolina upbringing; who was 5 when the still youthful Logano made his mark.

The weight of the names are not lost on Gilliland. The teenager is well aware of his racing history, especially in the West, where his father David and grandfather Butch each won races.

“I would say my overall success has come from preparation: from my family and I, and working from where we started to be ready for an opportunity like this,” said Gilliland. “It would be such an honor to tie a record with such a motorsports legend as Dan Gurney.”

Gurney, whose résumé includes wins in NASCAR’s Grand National (now Sprint Cup) Series as well as the 24 Hours of LeMans and Formula One, holds the all-time record with four straight victories between 1963-66. Flock, who would capture two NASCAR Grand National Series championships, won his first two West starts in 1955. And Logano, who graduated from 2007 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion to Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title contender, won the first two K&N Pro starts of his career.

Gilliland surpassed Flock and Logano with his win at California’s Irwindale Speedway on March 19, and can match Gurney’s streak with a win at Kern County Raceway Park Saturday night.

LINK: RACE CENTRAL LIVE FOR #NAPAAutoParts150

• 32 times in the history of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series a driver has won their first K&N Pro Series start.
• Four times (Tim Flock, Dan Gurney, Joey Logano and Todd Gilliland) the driver has won their second start.
• Gurney won his first four starts, Gilliland has three straight, while Flock and Logano won their first two.
• For 16 of the first race/first win drivers, it was their only career series race

COMPLETE LIST OF FIRST TIME APPEARANCE WINNERS

The series’ changes and evolutions over the years make it difficult to compare achievements. But regardless of the era, competition or the rules, the ability to win not only a first career start in a series, but also the second straight and, in very rare cases, a third and fourth, is a remarkable achievement.

Ken Clapp was there at Riverside when Gurney won, at Phoenix when Flock won, and has seen Gilliland from the start. The former NASCAR vice of marketing development, as well as vice president of western operations, feels the young Gilliland stacks up favorably.

“Regardless of what level it’s at, the playing field is level on the day that person accomplishes that,” said Ken Clapp, former NASCAR vice president of Western operations, who  said. “If a guy can put that kind of consistency, where they’re the ones that are always a notch above, that’s special. He’s done everything to prove that so far and he has it in his genes.

“He’s taken what he’s learned from his grandfather and father, and put it all together. He’s extremely aggressively patient. You’ve either got it or you don’t. And he’s got it.”

The original Pacific Coast Late Model Series would become the long-standing NASCAR Winston West Series, before eventual adoption of the same rules package of the then NASCAR Busch North Series helped create the NASCAR K&N Pro Series as it stands today. The series has become a primary launching pad for the sport’s rising stars looking to reach the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and eventually the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Gilliland is well on his way.

Gilliland initially made headlines when he became the youngest winner in series history with a victory in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West debut last fall at Phoenix International Raceway. He followed up by winning the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East opener in February at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway. That victory made him just the 11th driver to win in both the East and West. Running for the K&N Pro Series West championship for Sacramento-based Bill McAnally Racing, Gilliland opened the current West season by taking the checkered flag at Irwindale.

Now the attention shifts to Kern, a high-speed half-mile on the outskirts of Bakersfield. While he’s tested at the three-year-old oval, it’s another in a list of tracks that Gilliland will be competing at for the first time. He remains undaunted.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of going to all these new tracks and learning as quickly as I can,” he said. “I’m hoping we can keep up this success and go after a championship this year.”

Twenty-four drivers in the history of the West Series won their first career start, a list that starts with Dick Rathmann winning the inaugural series event in March of 1954 and includes the likes of Roger Penske and Cale Yarborough. Flock, who earned the Grand National champion in 1952 and 1955, won the Pacific Coast opener at the old Phoenix Fairgrounds on May 8, 1955. He followed up with a win in his next series start on July 31, 1955, at Bay Meadows in San Mateo, California. His streak ended with a third-place finish back at Phoenix Fairgrounds in January of 1956, in a race won by Buck Baker.

In the early years of the series, the Pacific Coast Late Models would run both stand-alone events as well as combination races with the Grand National Series. Drivers who won the combination events were credited with victories in both series.

This was the case for Gurney, who dominated the combination races at the former Riverside International Raceway in California. Four of Gurney’s five wins at the 2.62-mile road course came with the famed Wood Brothers, while his first appearance and first win was with Holman-Moody.

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Dan Gurney of his Mercury to the win at Riverside (Calif.) International Raecway in January of 1967. Getty Images/The Enthusiast Network

Gurney won his first start in the Grand National/Pacific Coast combination event at Riverside on Jan. 20, 1963. He did not start the race in November of 1963 despite sitting on the pole. A last-minute edict from USAC, in which they did not grant their drivers clearance to compete in the event, forced him to withdraw. Gurney was able to come back on Jan. 19, 1964 and make his second career series start — winning the race over Marvin Panch and Fireball Roberts. Gurney stretched his streak with wins at Riverside in January of 1965 and 1966, before he finished 14th in January of 1967 in a race won by another notable sports car ace, Parnelli Jones.

Gurney did come back and win the 1968 Riverside race and closed out his stock car career with five West victories.

It was another 43 years before a driver went back-to-back.

In 2007, the first year NASCAR lowered the minimum age to compete in the touring series from 18-years-old to 16, a then-16-year-old Logano edged Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and fellow teenager Marc Davis to win his debut on April 19 in the NASCAR West Series race at Phoenix. Nine days later, he opened the East season with a win at South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway.

Logano’s overall (and East) streak ended with a 19th-place overall finish in the East-West combination event on May 18, 2007, at Elko (Minnesota) Speedway. While he did score the overall win two days later at Iowa Speedway, his West run concluded with a blown engine at Sonoma Raceway in June.

Logano was just the seventh driver to win their East debut since the series was founded in 1987. The list is now up to 14 names, including inaugural series winner Billy Clark, three-time East champion Jamie Aube, and current national series drivers Austin Dillon, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Tyler Reddick.

Both lists include national series drivers who dropped down to run one-off K&N events, such as Brian Vickers (Sonoma, 2006), Aric Almirola (Dover, 2008), and Kyle Busch (Iowa, 2009).

The minimum age has since been lowered to 15, opening the door for Gilliland to make history.

Gilliland is also entered at Bristol Motor Speedway in the K&N Pro Series East race on April 16, which means regardless of how he finishes at Kern, he still has the opportunity to become the first driver to win their first two East appearances.

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Todd Gilliland won his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway in February. NASCAR via Getty Images

Garbarino Teams With Blewett For 2016

Garbarino Teams With Blewett For 2016

Starrett Joins Mystic Missile Racing As Primary Sponsor

MYSTIC, Conn. – Legendary NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour car owner Bob Garbarino will be back during the 2016 season with a new driver and national sponsor as he begins his 56th season and will be teamed with another legendary family name in modified racing in Jimmy Blewett.

A new sponsor, the L. S. Starrett Company of Athol, Massachusetts, will be the primary sponsor of the potent team.   Starrett was founded in 1880 and manufactures more than 5000 precision tools, gages, measuring instruments and saw blades for industrial, professional and consumer markets worldwide.

Garbarino said it was a hard choice to tab his next driver but he feels Blewett will fit in fine, despite being away from the modified tour a few years, running the DIRT modified series.

“You never know what is going to work and with Jimmy being away from the tour the past couple of years, I know he is looking to get back and make a good impression. I think the timing is right for Jimmy as a driver and is the right fit for my team.”

Blewett too is equally excited about the prospects of running the No. 4 Mystic Missile. “I have some unfinished business and getting back to the modified tour and winning races, I feel this is the best opportunity at this time.”

“I talked with Bob early in the winter and I told him I was available to drive. I know that Bob had his choice of several top drivers and I am glad that he chose me.” Blewett said.

Blewett comes from one of the first racing families of New Jersey with his father, John, Jr. and his brother, John III, running modifieds and winning at tracks up and down the east coast and Jimmy is hopeful that this new team will bring Garbarino a fourth title and his first.

Garbarino won the modified tour titles in 2007 and 2009 with Donny Lia as the driver and in 2010 with Bobby Santos.

Jim Ballou, the marketing manager for Starrett says “The whole company is excited about the new sponsorship deal with Garbarino and Blewett.”

When we met Bob before our executive board meeting, we knew of his success in his 50-plus years in racing and we feel honored to sponsor a legend in the sport. Bob has a reputation of doing things the right way and that is the way that we at Starrett have done business since 1880.”

Ballou states ”The company will have hospitality tents at races in Bristol, Tennessee, and Loudon, New Hampshire, and is looking forward to thanking the many loyal employees, education partners, distributors and users of Starrett products.

Our valued customers recognize the quality and precision in all Starrett products. We believe that the exposure through NASCAR sponsorship will introduce the Starrett brand to new customers looking for a competitive edge.”

Having a national sponsor such as Starrett is nothing new to Garbarino and he feels that not only will his team benefit from the new sponsorship but that the whole modified tour will reap the rewards of having Starrett on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

“I feel that this is a win-win situation for everyone.” Bob said.
 
The Starrett No. 4 will make its 2016 debut at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, Connecticut, for the annual running of the Icebreaker, the traditional season opener for the Whelen Modified Tour.

First-Time Winners By Year: K&N Pro East

First-Time Winners By Year: K&N Pro West

K&N Pro Series West News & Notes: Kern

K&N Pro Series West News & Notes: Kern

Gilliland The Driver To Beat At Kern County Raceway Park

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Twenty-four drivers will try to put an end to Todd Gilliland’s current three race win streak in the NAPA Auto Parts 150 on Saturday at California’s Kern County Raceway Park.

The Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, driver kicked things off with his first visit to Victory Lane in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West debut at Arizona’s Phoenix International Raceway in last November’s finale. He kept the streak going in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut, collecting the win in the 2016 season opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway.

Gilliland then collected his most recent victory in his third start in the West opener at California’s Irwindale Speedway. He piloted the No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts 150 to Victory Lane after leading a total of 33 laps. 

Chris Eggleston, Noah Gragson, David Mayhew, Ryan Partridge and Gracin Raz – on the other hand – are eager to make their first trip to Victory Lane this season. 

Eggleston, the defending K&N West champion, looks to build upon his solid third place showing at the season opener. The 26-year-old from Erie, Colorado, native looks to improve off of his fifth place finish at Kern last season.

Gragson and Mayhew head into Kern as the highest finishing returning competitors. The 17-year-old Gragson from Las Vegas, Nevada, finished third in his series debut at Kern last season. He had a solid start to the 2016 season with a fourth-place finish at Irwindale. Mayhew led a race-high 85 laps last year at Kern before he was overtaken by Dalton Sargeant and finished second.

Partridge, who finished 13th at the half-mile oval in 2015, will look to capitalize off strong his runner-up finish at Irwindale to open the current season. 

Raz will try to bounce back from his rough start in the opener. The 18-year-old from Lake Oswego, Oregon, finished 14th after leading 82 laps. He has a good history at Kern with a sixth place finish in his series debut at the track last season.

RACE: NAPA Auto Parts 150
PLACE: California’s Kern County Raceway Park
DATE: Saturday, April 2
TIME: 9 p.m. PST
TV SCHEDULE: NBCSN, April 8 at 11 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: Half-mile oval
2015 WINNER: Dalton Sargeant
2015 POLE SITTER: Dalton Sargeant
EVENT SCHEDULE: Garage opens: 9 a.m.; Practice: 12-12:45 p.m.; Final Practice: 1:15-2 p.m.; Driver/Crew Chief Meeting: 4 p.m.; Qualifying: 4:45 p.m.; Driver Autograph Session: 6:30 p.m.; Driver Introductions: 8:45 p.m.; NAPA Auto Parts 150: 9 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT: Steve Hughes, (661) 835-1264 ext. 3204 or shughes@kernraceway.com
TRACK TWITTER: @KernRaceway
EVENT TWITTER HASHTAG: #NAPAAutoParts150
NASCAR IMC CONTACT: Brooke Franceschini, (386) 631-6142 or bfranceschini@nascar.com, @BrookeFran04

FAST FACTS
The Race:
The NAPA Auto Parts 150 is the second race of the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season. It is the second of 11 oval track events and 14 races overall on the schedule. This is the series’ fifth visit to Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.

The Procedure: The starting field is 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 22 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials while the remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 150 laps covering 75 miles.

The Track: Kern County Raceway Park sits on 120 acres and opened on May 18, 2013 with a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event. The facility has seating for 5,000 spectators and is expandable to more than 15,000. It’s a half-mile oval with progressive banking of 12 to 14 degrees in turns and eight degrees on the front and backstretches. 

The Records: The one-lap qualifying record was set by Gray Gaulding on October 26, 2013 at 17.908 seconds, 100.514 mph. The 150 lap race record was established by Greg Pursley at 1 hour, 10 minutes 46 seconds, 63.589 on October 26, 2013.

NAPA AUTO PARTS 150 NOTES:
Mayhew to Make Season Debut: NASCAR K&N Pro Series West veteran David Mayhew is set to make his season debut in the NAPA Auto Parts 150 on Saturday. This will be the 34-year-old Atascadero, California, driver’s 100th K&N West start, should he qualify. In his four starts at Kern, he has collected three top fives and four top 10s.

Ford Domination at Kern: Fords have proven themselves to be the cars to beat at Kern. All four victors – Greg Pursley, Dylan Lupton and Dalton Sargeant – have piloted their Ford to Victory Lane. With nine Fords scheduled to compete on Saturday, there’s a good chance the trend can continue.

Qualifying is Key: Since the inaugural NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Kern in 2013, two of the four winners have started at the top. Greg Pursley, who won twice in 2013 and 2014, started third and on the pole, respectively. Last year’s winner, Dalton Sargeant, collected his first series victory after earning the pole earlier in the day. Dylan Lupton is the only winner to come from behind when he won from the ninth starting position in 2014.

New Winner to Be Crowned: Keeping with the trend of the 2016 K&N Pro Series seasons, a new winner will be crowned at Kern this weekend. None of the 25 competitors entered in Saturday’s race have won at Kern before. Sixteen of the 25 drivers will be on the hunt for their first series trip to the winner’s circle.

Kern County Experience: Only eleven drivers – Johnny Borneman, Rich DeLong, Chris Eggleston, Noah Gragson, Matt Levin, David Mayhew, Ron Norman, Ryan Partridge, Gracin Raz, Jack Sellers and John Wood – have prior series experience at the half-mile oval.

HOME TRACKS: It’s Opening Night at Kern
Several NASCAR Whelen All-American divisions open their 2016 seasons Saturday night at Kern County Raceway Park. The track’s Super Stocks, Legends and 911 Racing Series will compete prior to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West NAPA Auto Parts 150. Kern’s Division I Late Models will begin their season on April 16.

Whelen So. Mod News & Notes: Concord

Whelen So. Mod News & Notes: Concord

Tour Returns to Fast Half Mile After Postponement

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Following a rainout on March 19 the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour is set to return to Concord Speedway this Saturday to contest the Southern Sizzler 150.

Race postponements always come with logistical challenges, but at least one benefit resulted in this instance. Due to the NASCAR XFINITY Series having a weekend off, 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece will now compete in the race.

Preece has two wins, nine poles and 10 top-10 finishes in 14 starts in the southern tour. He’ll be joined at the North Carolina oval by another former NWMT champion as Ted Christopher is still slated to compete in the race. 

Christopher’s resume is also strong in his limited time in the southern tour. Christopher won the only other time the NWSMT visited Concord in 2009. The Connecticut native has grabbed six wins in 18 southern tour starts dating back to 2005.

A total of six drivers who competed at Concord in 2009 will return with current points leader Burt Myers leading the way. Myers won the pole back in 2009 with a top speed of 118.569 mph, making the track one of the fastest on the southern tour. 

Former Concord track champion and current NWSMT competitor, Bobby Measmer Jr., scored a career-best second place finish at the season opener at Caraway. 

RACE CENTRAL LIVE: EVENT SCHEDULE & ENTRY LIST

Fast Facts

The Race: The Southern Sizzler 150 at Concord Speedway will be the second of 11 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship events in 2016. This is the tour’s second visit to the unique oval, and the second of eight races this season in the state of North Carolina.

The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 23 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials while the remaining three starting spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 150 laps (75 miles) and teams have an opportunity to pit and change one tire during the event.

The Track: Concord Speedway is a half-mile mile banked asphalt oval located in Concord, North Carolina. The facility opened in 1982 originally with a dirt racing surface and was later paved. The track hosted the southern tour in 2009.

The Records: Burt Myers set the tour’s track qualifying record on March 21, 2009 with a mark of 15.181 seconds (118.569 mph).

Southern Sizzler 150 Note
NASCAR Hall of Famer to Serve as Grand Marshal: Newly inducted NASCAR Hall of Fame driver and modified racing legend Jerry Cook will serve as Grand Marshal of the race and will give the command to start the Southern Sizzler 150 on Saturday.

Patience Pays Off For Haley

Patience Pays Off For Haley

Late Pass At Greenville Nets First K&N Pro East Victory

See video

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Justin Haley was patient all night at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway. Until it was go-time.

The 16-year-old from Winamac, Indiana, cleared the dominant car of Kyle Benjamin with seven laps to go and sailed to his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory.

It was Haley’s 23rd career NASCAR K&N Pro Series start. He nearly picked up the win in Phoenix last fall in the K&N Pro West, but late contact while leading cut a tire and ended his night six laps short of the win.

Saturday on the flat half-mile in Greenville, Haley ran second most of the night before making his late move.

Benjamin settled for second, followed by Ronnie Bassett Jr., championship points leader Spencer Davis and Dillon Bassett.

Benjamin, from nearby Easley, South Carolina, was fastest in practice and winner of the 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Brewing Company. He led a race-high 122 laps. Haley used lapped traffic to wrestle the lead away early in the race. But Benjamin took it back just before halfway and led until the closing laps when Haley edged by him to claim the checkered flag.

Reid Wilson finished sixth, followed by Noah Gragson, Tyler Dippel, Kaz Grala and Hunter Baize. The race was slowed just twice by cautions, including the halfway break.

Davis maintained a three-point lead over Benjamin, while Haley moved into third. Haley is one point behind Benjamin and one ahead of teammate Dippel. Ronnie Bassett rounds out the top five in points.

The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 will air on NBCSN on Saturday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will be back in action on April 16 with the PittLite 125 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Benjamin is the defending race winner.

RESULTS | RACE CENTRAL LIVE REPLAY

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Justin Haley (outside) and Kyle Benjamin battle for the lead during Saturday’s Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway. Grant Halverson/NASCAR via Getty Images

Tillison Has Record-Setting Season at Salina

Tillison Has Record-Setting Season at Salina

Wins First NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Track Title

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – One thing is certain about the pursuit of the 2015 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship – it didn’t come easy for Lee Pulliam thanks to the efforts of Thomas Tillison Jr.

Tillison served notice to the other competitors in the NWAAS that and other dirt racers are here to challenge the asphalt world for championships.

The 41-year-old driver from Wellston, Oklahoma, almost made history in his bid to capture the national championship as a rookie competing in NASCAR sanctioned events. While contending for national honors, and winning the Jostens National Rookie of the Year honors along the way, he secured the track title as his home track – Salina Highbanks Speedway in Pryor Creek, Oklahoma.

“(Last year) was the first time we ever decided to run for a points championship,” Tillison said. “Most of the time we’ve raced all throughout the Midwest and even near Canada chasing big money races and we decided to try and run close to home for a change. I’m glad we did because it worked out well for us in 2015.”

He also collected the Oklahoma state NASCAR crown while competing at Salina and Flint Creek Speedways with a final resume of 15 wins and 25 top fives in 29 starts during the season.

One reason why the veteran felt he did so well was his driving style and the ultra-fast track at Salina.

“The track is a fast, high-banked track that allows you to carry a lot of speed in to the corners and that’s what I like to do with my car,” Tillison added. “The track also has great owners and promoters and that along with fierce competition makes it fun to compete there each week.”

Tillison’s success resulted in the highest finish in the NWAAS national standings by a dirt driver since 2008, and he was proud to represent that type of racing on the championship podium.

“I actually have some driving experience on asphalt in my career but I love racing on dirt,” Tillison said. “Dirt tracks are very popular in my state and I have a passion to race on dirt. I feel more at home on dirt tracks.”

While Tillison enjoyed traveling to races, the 2015 season allowed many of his family and friends to come out and watch him race at Salina and Flint Creek Speedways. He enjoyed being able to celebrate his successful with them.

“I have a large family and it was a blessing to have them come out to the races and enjoy the season and wins and everything with me,” Tillison added. “That’s something I’ll always appreciate about last year.”

With his runner-up finish and national rookie of the year honors, Tillison knows that everyone will try and equal or better his success at Salina in 2016. That’s something he welcomes as a new challenge this year.

“We’ve decided to stay close to home again this season (2016) and try to win the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship,” Tillison said. “We’ve always worked hard to be successful on the track and go for wins, but after going to the banquet and seeing how well NASCAR treats the competitors and champions in Charlotte during the banquet week it makes me want to work even harder to go back this December as the champion.” 

Many perks come with winning a track, state and rookie of the year title. Tillison celebrated with his family and crew in Charlotte in December during the NWAAS ceremony in Charlotte and just recently spent time with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin at the state capitol.

“Visiting the Governor was a neat deal and something I never dreamed I thought I would do, but that shows you that NASCAR does things right,” Tillison said. “NASCAR has the most complete PR program I’ve ever been a part of in my racing career and I don’t understand why every track is not NASCAR sanctioned to help take care of their competitors.”

Although Tillison has enjoyed his offseason he’s ready to get back to racing.

“We’ve got our eyes on the championship and I appreciate everyone at Salina working hard to put a schedule together for this season that should give us a chance to challenge for the NWAAS title,” Tillison said.

The 2016 season at Salina Highbanks Speedway gets underway this weekend with the Easter/Spring Shootout with the A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Grand Nationals and Pure Stock classes all competing on Saturday.

Paul Guiod Wins The Volant KNAUF!

Paul Guiod Wins The Volant KNAUF!

The 16-year-old will get a complete NWES season

The first edition of the Volant KNAUF was a huge success, with 112 candidates and 11 drivers selected for the final on-track evaluation at the wheel of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series cars. Everybody’s sole goal was to win a complete season in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. It was 16-year-old Paul Guiod who was crowned the winner and will drive the #73 KNAUF Ford Mustang in the ELITE 2 Division in 2016.

The 11 drivers selected for the Volant KNAUF Finale gathered on Wednesday, March 23 at the Fontenay le Comte circuit to prove themselves at the wheel of the Euro-NASCAR cars to win a season in the official European NASCAR Series. The day included: three driving sessions for each candidate to evaluate their driving skills on a NWES car and an interview with the KNAUF France executives, conducted by Denis Kleiber (General Director Knauf France), Yann Ditsch (Sales Director of KNAUF Bâtiment), Olivier Bacle (Operating Marketing Director and Team Manager of KRT) and Christian Tolo (Sales Director Knauf West) to evaluate their character, their values and their communication propension.

In the end it was Paul Guiod to be named the 2016 Volant Knauf winner. With his personality and his on-track talent he convinced the KNAUF judges to reward him with a full-paid season in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.

“It is such an incredible opportunity! I am so happy to have been chosen among so many drivers. It was an amazing day, full of emotions. I took my first laps on a NASCAR Whelen Euro Series car and I was impressed by the speed and the sound. The Knauf Racing Team is outstanding and I learned a lot from this experience,” said the Paris-native, coming straight from karting. “I want to thank Knauf and the entire KNAUF Racing Team for this opportunity and especially Thomas (Ferrando) and Wilfried (Boucenna for the many things they taught me. I want to work with them, improve myself and hopefully get good results in my first season.” 

Paul Guiod will live his American Dream in the blue, white and grey KNAUF Racing Team colors starting with the 2016 season opener in Valencia, Spain on April 23-24.

K&N Pro Series East Stat Advance: Greenville

K&N Pro Series East Stat Advance: Greenville

Analyzing The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will make the short trip down to South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway on Saturday for the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150, the first of two events to be held at the half-mile oval this season. Below is a look at the performance of the series and selected drivers at Greenville, as well as some other statistical trends.

Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 Race Setup:
• Spencer Davis heads into Greenville with a one point lead over Tyler Dippel in the standings, 85-84.
• Of the 22 cars schedule to compete in Saturday’s Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150, only eight drivers have previous series starts at the historic South Carolina track – Dillon Bassett, Ronnie Bassett Jr., Kyle Benjamin, Collin Cabre, Christian Celaya, Kaz Grala, Justin Haley and John Holleman IV.

At Greenville Pickens Speedway:
History
• Opened on July 4, 1946 as a dirt track. The surface was converted to asphalt in April 1970.
• Held 29 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races from 1951-71, including the first flag-to-flag televised event.
• David Pearson (1959) and Ralph Earnhardt (1965, 66) are among the famed drivers that have won championships at the track.
• Junior Miller won a pair of NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour races at Greenville in the 2006-07 seasons.

Notebook
• This is the series’ 15th visit to Greenville Pickens Speedway.
• The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 will air on NBCSN on Saturday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
• The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East held its inaugural race at Greenville on June 6, 2006 and has returned every year since. The track returns to hosting two events after only holding one race last year.
• William Byron won the series’ sole visit to Greenville last year.
• Darrell Wallace Jr. is the only driver in series history to win two races at Greenville (2010, 12).
• In the first 14 K&N East events, there have been four drivers that have won from the pole: Joey Logano (2007), Brett Moffitt (2011), Dylan Kwasniewski (2013) and Ben Rhodes (2014).
• Logano, Austin Dillon (2008), Brandon Gdovic (2013), Wallace (2010), Rhodes (2014) and Byron (2015) all earned their first career K&N East win at Greenville.
• The most cautions for a K&N East race at the half-mile oval is 13 on two occasions (2006, 10) while the fewest is one in the September 2013 race. The most caution laps (79) came in the inaugural 2006 race, while the fewest (8) was in September 2013.
• In 14 races, the lead has changed an average of 3.40 with a high of eight changes in 2009.
• The average starting position for the winner is 3.07, while the pole sitter has an average finish of 5.57.

Greenville Data
Race: #3 of 14 overall
Track Layout: .5-mile asphalt oval
Race Length: 150 laps (75 miles)
Banking/Corners: Five degrees

Qualifying/Race Data
2015 Race Winner: William Byron
2015 Pole Sitter: Daniel Hemric
1-Lap Qualifying Record: Brett Moffitt, Toyota, 20.534 seconds, 87.659 mph, April 2, 2011
150-Lap Race Record: Brandon Gdovic, Toyota, 1 hour 2 minutes 27 seconds, 72.058 mph, April 6, 2013

Leaders at Greenville:
Wins
Darrell Wallace Jr. … 2
William Byron … 1
Sean Caisse … 1
Austin Dillon … 1
Brandon Gdovic … 1
Austin Hill … 1
Brian Ickler … 1
Corey LaJoie … 1
Joey Logano … 1
Dylan Kwasniewski … 1
Brett Moffitt … 1
Sergio Pena … 1
Ben Rhodes … 1

Poles
Brett Moffitt … 3
Ben Rhodes … 2
Daniel Hemric … 1
Dylan Kwasniewski … 1
Corey LaJoie … 1
Joey Logano … 1
Mike Olsen … 1
Peyton Sellers … 1
Cole Whitt … 1
Field set per rule book … 2

Laps Completed
Eddie MacDonald … 1,636
Ryan Gifford … 1,317
Brett Moffitt … 1,163

Laps Led
Brett Moffitt … 356
Darrell Wallace Jr. … 171
Brian Ickler … 167
William Byron … 152

Selected Driver Highlights:
Ronnie Bassett Jr. (No. 04 Bassett Gutters Ford)
• Heads into Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway ranked fourth in the standings with one top five and two top 10s.
• In four starts at Greenville, he has an average start of 9.5 and an average finish of 13.2
• Has completed 453 of 582 laps during his four starts.
• Earned his best series career finish, a runner-up, at Greenville in 2014.

Kyle Benjamin (No. 40 FEVR Chevrolet)
• Is ranked third in the series standings with one top-five and two top-10 finishes.
• Finished 12th after starting 12th in his series debut at Greenville last season.
• At the two previous half-mile ovals this season, New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway and Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway, he finished fourth and sixth, respectively.
• Is a member of the 2015-16 NASCAR Next class.

Harrison Burton (No. 12 DEX Imaging/Konica Minolta Toyota)
• Heads into Greenville ranked eighth in the K&N Pro Series East standings with one top-10 finish.
• This will be his first series start Greenville.
• In his first two series starts he’s finished 13th (New Smyrna) and seventh (Mobile).
• Became the youngest starter in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West history at 15 years, eight days at All American Speedway in Roseville, California.

Spencer Davis (No. 41 Ruud.com Chevrolet)
• Sits atop of the K&N East standings headed into Greenville after back-to-back runner-up finishes.
• This will be his first series start at the historic South Carolina oval.
• Has finished sixth or better in each of his six K&N East starts.

Tyler Dippel (No. 38 East West Marine/TyCar Chevrolet)
• Is runner-up in the series standings with one win and two top-10 finishes.
• Earned his first K&N East victory at Mobile on March 13.
• Finished eighth in his series debut at New Smyrna.
• This will be his first series start at Greenville.

Noah Gragson (No. 55 AlertID/Speed Vegas/Colliers International Ford)
• Is sixth in the series standings headed into Greenville with one top five.
• Finished eighth at New Smyrna and 12th at Mobile.
• This will be his debut at the South Carolina half-mile.

Kaz Grala (No. 3 NETTTS Toyota)
• Heads into Greenville ranked seventh in the standings with one top-five.
• In three starts at Greenville he has an average start of 6.3 and an average finish of 8.0.
• Has completed all 442 laps in his three starts and has led a total of 15 laps at the historic track.
• Has finished seventh (2014), ninth (2014) and sixth (2015) at Greenville.

Justin Haley (No. 5 Braun Auto Chevrolet)
• Is ranked fifth in the K&N East standings headed to South Carolina with one top five and two top 10s.
• Finished 18th after starting third in his Greenville debut last season.
• This season he finished fifth at New Smyrna and ninth at Mobile.

Austin Theriault (No. 1 Don Valley Toyota)
• Heads into Greenville ranked ninth in the series standings with one top five.
• This will be his first series start at the South Carolina half-mile oval.
• In his two starts this season, he’s finished 24th (New Smyrna) and fourth (Mobile).

Dominique Van Wieringen (No. 30 Durobyte Ford)
• Is ranked 10th in the K&N East standings with one top 10.
• In her two starts this season, she’s finished 10th in her series debut New Smyrna and 20th at Mobile.
• This will be her first series start at Greenville.

Other Driver Notes:
• Collin Cabre is looking to bounce back after his 22nd place finish at Mobile. The Driver for Diversity (D4D) driver finished 15th at Greenville last year.

Up To Speed:
• The 2016 season is the 30th for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
• The 2016 schedule features 14 races at 13 different tracks across the United States.
• Third generation driver, Todd Gilliland, earned his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory in his series debut at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway.
• Tyler Dippel collected his first series career win at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway.

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