Gilliland Goes Back-to-Back with K&N East Win in Bristol, Gragson and Ankrum Finish Third, Fourth

16 Apr 2018
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Todd Gilliland raced to his second straight NASCAR K&N Pros Series East (NKNPSE) win over the weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. His teammates, Noah Gragson and Tyler Ankrum, both led laps throughout the event and went on to finish third and fourth respectively as the DGR-CROSLEY trio collectively led every lap in the Zombie Auto 150.
The No. 54 Switch Toyota of Gragson showed speed early on in the weekend when he laid down a record-setting lap during qualifying, securing his first NKNPSE Pole Award. Gragson made his way around the half-mile track with a time of 15.159 seconds, trumping the previous track record by over four miles per hour. The No. 98 Mobil 1 Toyota of Gilliland scored a third-place starting position with Ankrum in the No. 17 Modern Meat Co., machine right behind him in fourth.
Gragson led the field to the green flag on Saturday afternoon and maintained that lead for the first 54 laps before Ankrum took over the reins of the top spot following the first round of pit stops where his team opted to not make adjustments. Ankrum maintained the lead for the next 27 laps before he and Gilliland started battling for the top position. The No. 98 of Gilliland reclaimed the top-spot off a restart on lap 103, and he never looked back. Even through several cautions, Gilliland was able to fire off strong and separate himself from the field on restarts.
"This is a special win for my whole team," said Gilliland. "Bristol is such a historic track and one that I've really wanted to win at for a while, but in the past, we've struggled here. Just to look around the track and see the history in racing and the amount of people this place holds - it's incredible. This is the happiest I've been after a race. Really proud of my team at DGR-CROSLEY, Mobil 1 and Toyota - I couldn't have done it without them."
Gragson, whose run was hindered by multiple late race cautions, went on to finish third.
"This one stings a little bit, I wanted that win really bad," said Gragson. "We started off really fast, leading the first 50 laps, and I was happy with the car so we didn't make any changes to the setup at the break. As the race went on I just got too tight. We also struggled on the restarts and couldn't quite get the momentum going, especially on the bottom lane. I'm bummed with the outcome but thankful that I had the opportunity to come race here. Thanks to DGR-CROSLEY, Switch, Toyota and Safelite Auto-Glass."
Ankrum driving the No. 17 Modern Meat Co. Toyota Camry, had an impressive showing at Bristol Motor Speedway as the NKNPSE Rookie led laps and earned a fourth-place finish in only his second K&N Series start.
"That was fun," said Ankrum. "Unfortunately, strategy didn't play into our favor there at the end with all the cautions, but my DGR-CROSLEY guys gave me another great car. Really proud that the Modern Meat Company Toyota has two top-five finishes in the first two races. Wins are coming, and I'm learning a lot every time I strap into the car. Langley [Speedway] is one of my favorite tracks, I'm excited to be heading there with some momentum."
A replay of the Zombie Auto 150 will be broadcast on April 20 at 1:00 a.m., ET on NBCSN. 
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Steven B. Wilson

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