NASCAR K&N Pro Series West drivers will compete in the only road course on this year’s schedule when the circuit makes its annual visit to Northern California’s wine country for the Carneros 200 at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday.
The event on the twisting 1.99-mile track marks the midway point of the season for the series, with seven races complete on a 14-race schedule.
Bill McAnally Racing drivers Todd Gilliland, Chris Eggleston, and Derek Kraus have built up momentum in the first half of the season – winning all seven races and holding down the top three spots in the championship standings. They face a big challenge, however, with Sonoma Raceway being the only track on the current series schedule where BMR has not won.
Gilliland – a California native who lives in Sherrills Ford, North Carolina – wheels the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry for BMR. Eggleston of Erie, Colorado drives the No. 99 NAPA Filters / H20 Fire Protection Toyota Camry. Kraus – a 15-year-old series rookie from Stratford, Wisconsin – pilots the No. 19 Carlyle Tools by NAPA Toyota Camry.
In addition to the three full-time drivers, two other drivers will be in BMR entries at Sonoma. Derek Thorn – the 2013 series champion, who won at Sonoma in his title year – will be in BMR’s No. 43 Campbell Motorsports/Race for Autism Toyota Camry. Will Gallaher will make his series debut in the No. 54 First Community Bank Toyota Camry prepared by BMR.
Gilliland won the series championship last year with a record-setting rookie season. This year, he’s running the full schedules in both the East and West divisions of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. A member of the NASCAR Next program that spotlights NASCAR’s rising stars, the 17-year-old finished third at Colorado National Speedway in the most recent K&N West series race. He leads the championship standings, with four wins, six top-five, and seven top-10 finishes this year.
Eggleston, the 2015 series champion, won the race at his home track in Colorado for the third time in four years. He is second in the standings, just seven points behind Gilliland. Eggleston has three wins this season and is the only driver to finish in the top five in all seven races.
Gilliland and Eggleston were sidelined early in last year’s series race at Sonoma, after they were caught up in a multi-car incident at the drop of the green flag. Eggleston’s best finish in two starts on the Northern California road course was 13th in 2015, while a 24th-place finish in last year’s race accounted for Gilliland’s only series start there.
Kraus, in his freshman season on the circuit, will be competing in his first series race at Sonoma. Following a second-place finish at Colorado, he leads in rookie points and is third in the overall championship standings. He has four top-five and five top-10 finishes.
Thorn will be making his first appearance in the series since winning his championship in 2013. The 31-year-old Lakeport, California native scored five wins in 35 series starts between 2008 and 2013.
Gallaher – a 27-year-old from Santa Rosa, California – has a racing resume that includes Super Late Model competition at various tracks, a couple of ARCA Racing Series events, and two seasons of racing Formula Ford.
Saturday’s K&N West race, which is slated to be televised on NBCSN on June 29 at 8 p.m. PT, is part of a big NASCAR weekend at Sonoma that also features the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Special guests of NAPA AUTO PARTS at Sonoma will get the opportunity for an up-close look at the Monster Energy NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage, with BMR providing special VIP Pit Tours on Saturday.
Sonoma Raceway has hosted 27 regular K&N West races, plus nine combination races with the NASCAR Cup Series. Gilliland is the third generation of his family to compete in K&N West action at the track. His father, David, and his grandfather, Butch, each scored two series wins at Sonoma. Butch Gilliland won there in 1996 and 1997, while David Gilliland’s victories were in 2007 and 2012.