DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Chris Eggleston turned a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity into a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship.
Last season, Bill McAnally Racing (BMR) took a chance of a guy from Erie, Colorado, giving him the chance to compete in a race at his home track, Colorado National Speedway. That guy went on to win the race, lead 107 lap and land a full-time ride with the team.
He was crowned the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion one year later.
“It was really cool to get that chance last year,” Eggleston said. “To get a chance to compete at my home track with BMR was unforgettable. But getting the win was the icing on the cake.”
Bill McAnally, the owner and founder of Bill McAnally Racing, worked throughout the offseason to get Eggleston on his team for the 2015 season. Shortly before the season was to begin, Eggleston got the call that would set in motion his journey to the championship.
“I was driving to work when I got the call from Bill,” the 26-year-old Erie, Colorado, native said. “He welcomed me to the BMR team and I was so ecstatic. Bill worked so hard to get me on the team, so winning the championship was the best way to repay him for all that work.”
Eggleston and the No. 99 NAPA Filters team entered the season with low expectations and no pressure. At the season opener at California’s Kern County Raceway Park, they finished fifth after starting third.
“We didn’t feel any pressure headed into the start of the season,” said Eggleston. “Nobody expected anything from us, so we didn’t have any pressure either. That all came later as the season progressed.”
The No. 99 team got their first taste of victory at the second race of the season at California’s Irwindale Speedway. They started second and fought their way to a podium finish, the first of two this year. They hit a rough patch for two races, but managed to bounce back with a victory at California’s Shasta Speedway for the fifth event of the season. Their season ended with a record of two wins, nine top-five and 10 top-10 finishes and a total of 135 laps led.
“Our season started great,” Eggleston said. “We got in a good rhythm and started to put ourselves in position for the championship. Then we hit a bit of a rough patch at Iowa, but we stayed positive and managed to find our groove again. Before we knew it, there were only three races to go and we didn’t want to jeopardize our chances.”
Eggleston finished fourth and third leading into the finale at Phoenix and had only a four point lead over runner-up Noah Gragson (478-474).
“There was a long break between All American and Phoenix,” said Eggleston. “It gave me plenty of time to overthink. Roger (Bracken) and the rest of my team stayed upbeat and humble, which helped me. Every lap at Phoenix went by so slow until the drama happened on the last lap. That race held a lot of emotion for everyone.”
Eggleston did what he had to do to win the championship at Phoenix: Keep his challengers – Gragson, Gracin Raz and Ryan Partridge – in the rear-view mirror. After qualifying 15th, second among the championship contenders, he passed Partridge before the halfway break and kept his car out of trouble while picking off positions.
“I had a great core group,” said Eggleston. “We had some engine problems during practice, but everyone came together and got us back out for qualifying and the race. Everyone played their part.
“It was awesome to win and to do it in my first full-season is unforgettable,” Eggleston said about winning his first series championship. “It was great to win it for my guys and it’s amazing to earn Bill his sixth championship. I’m so humbled and grateful for the honor and the opportunity.
As for Eggleston’s future, he’s slated to return to BMR next season to defend his title, but McAnally thinks Eggleston’s future holds so much more.
“Chris has what it takes to compete at the national level,” the 2015 champion owner said. “He’s the whole package. He’s got skill, he can communicate well and he’s worked with cars so he know what they need. He’s got it all.”