Eggleston Tops Gilliland In Tucson Tussle

Chris Eggleston in victory lane at Tucson Speedway. (NASCAR photo)

TUCSON, Ariz. — It was a back-and-forth battle all day, but Chris Eggleston came out on top Saturday at Tucson Speedway.

Leading 80 of 150 laps in the NAPA Auto Parts Tucson 150, Eggleston beat pole-sitter and defending NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Todd Gilliland to the line to take his sixth career NASCAR K&N Pro Series West victory with his No. 99 NAPA Filters Toyota.

The 27-year-old from Erie, Colorado, said he stepped up his game for the second half of the event and is grateful to start the 2017 season off in victory lane after a doubtful off-season.

In a way, the same can be said for second-place finisher Gilliland. Leading the most laps of the night, the 16-year-old from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, and his No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota held off the pack on numerous late restarts to bring it home in the runner-up position for the second straight year at Tucson. The result also continues a streak of nine consecutive top-10 finishes for the NASCAR Next driver.

One of the drivers Gilliland had to hold off was 20-year-old Garrett Archer. In only his second K&N West start, the Maple Valley, Washington, driver jumped his No. 27 Recruit 4 Business Ford to the outside lane on the final restart, advancing from sixth to second until Gilliland re-passed him for the spot. Still, a third-place result is a positive way to kick off the year, he says.

In what was a relatively clean night of racing, there were still a handful of single-car spins that halted the action. Salvatore Iovino, who spun in final practice earlier in the day, continued to struggle with the car’s handling, losing his No. 38 Infinite Wireless Chevrolet on three occasions in the 150-lapper.

He was not the only one, as Riley Herbst and Rich DeLong III also lost their cars on each end of the track.

On the positive end, Zane Smith came home with a top-five finish in fourth followed by Will Rodgers in fifth.

Eggleston’s victory also put him in the position to win $100,000 as a part of the NAPA 500 Challenge, should a driver win all four races, they will take home the bonus.

The finish:

  1. (2) Chris Eggleston, Erie, Colo., Toyota, 150 laps, 54.938 mph.
  2. (1) Todd Gilliland, Sherrils Ford, N.C., Toyota, 150.
  3. (16) Garret Archer, Maple Valey, Wash, Ford, 150.
  4. (4) Zane Smith, Huntington Beach, Calif., Ford, 150.
  5. (8) Will Rodgers, Murrieta, Calif., Ford, 150.
  6. (3) Derek Kraus, Stratford, Wis., Toyota, 150.
  7. (14) Brandon Schilling, Sierra Vista, Ariz., Ford, 150.
  8. (15) Kody Vanderwal, Ford, 150.
  9. (6) Riley Herbst, Las Vegas, Nev., Toyota, 150.
  10. (12) Nicole Behar, Spokane, WA, Toyota, 150.
  11. (10) Blaine Perkins, Bakersfield, Calif., Chevrolet, 150.
  12. (7) Julia Landauer, New York, N.Y., Ford, 150.
  13. (9) Matt Levin, Tucson, Ariz., Chevrolet, 150.
  14. (5) Ron Norman, Tucson, Ariz., Chevrolet, 150.
  15. (13) Trevor Cristiani, Ukiah, Calif., Chevrolet, 149.
  16. (18) Takuma Koga, Nagoya, Japan, Chevrolet, 148.
  17. (20) Dan Phillippi, Los Angeles, Calif., Ford, 148.
  18. (19) Bill Kann, Scottsdale, Ariz., Toyota, 147.
  19. (23) Rich DeLong III, Santa Clarita, Calif., Chevrolet, 145.
  20. (21) Jesse Iwuji, Carrolton, Texas, Chevrolet, 145.
  21. (22) Salvatore Iovino, Los Angeles, Calif., Chevrolet, 138.
  22. (11) Todd Souza, Watsonville, Calif., Toyota, 111.
  23. (24) Bobby Hillis, Scottsdale, Ariz., Chevrolet, 15, brakes.
  24. (17) Justin Funkhouser, Paradise, CA, Chevrolet, 1, brakes.