Home Sweet Home For David Gilliland
David Gilliland used his experience on the road course at Sonoma to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Pick-n-Pull Racing To Stop Hunger 200 on Saturday.
It was a special win and weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular out of Riverside, Calif. On Thursday evening he introduced his father, Butch, who was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. On Saturday, he collected his second K&N Pro Series win at the twisting 1.99-mile track, to match the two wins his father had there.
“We really had a great car today,” said the driver of the No. 25 Pick-n-Pull Chevrolet. “Track position is so important here and we were able to win that today.”
Gilliland, who competed at Sonoma as a winning crew chief with his father, expressed his infinity for the track and the race.
“It’s an awesome race track for me,” Gilliland said. “I love it and love coming out here and racing. I’m originally from California. So I love coming out here and seeing my family and friends. It’s a very special race for me. It really means a lot for me to come out here and win and to have my dad and my family here.
“My dad has had a lot of success out here and I’ve had a lot of success our here as a crew chief and different things,” he said. “I got my career best (Sprint) Cup finish here; I finished second.”
Derek Thorn, in his first start at the track, followed Gilliland to a second-place finish while defending series champion Greg Pursley crossed the line in third. Jim Inglebright was fourth, followed by points leader Dylan Kwasniewski in the fifth position.
“I’ve never been here before,” Thorn said. “Working with the guys from the Sunrise Ford team, it was a consistent learning experience. As I made laps, I tried to make myself better. The car has always been underneath me. It’s just a matter of me catching up to it with the little amount of road-course experience I have.
“We had one final shot with Gilliland at the end,” Thorn said. “Following him helped me learn some stuff. With the experience he has, he was able to pull away from me a little bit. It was awesome to run up front like that. The whole combination of our team came together today. Second place, for this being my first time here, we’re ecstatic.”
Pursley, who won the pole in qualifying on Friday, led the first 23 laps before making his pit stop for fuel.
“We elected not to come in and pit on Lap 18,” he said. “It was a little too tight for us to go. The two front guys that got first and second did pit on that (caution). We elected not to. We were hoping it was going to go green flag, like it did the first half of the race and they would probably be in trouble if it did. But they got the cautions they needed.
“Track position is everything here and it put us back a little bit,” Pursley said. “We came out of here with third. It’s our best finish.”
Michael Self, Jonathon Gomez, Austin Cameron, David Mayhew and Cameron Hayley completed the top 10. Three-time series champion Eric Holmes led 13 laps, but his day ended early when smoke erupted from his car. He finished 23rd.
The race featured three lead changes among four drivers - Gilliland, Pursley, Mayhew and Holmes. The pace was slowed by four cautions for 14 laps.
In the championship standings, Pursley closed to within eight points of his teammate Kwasniewski - 345 to 337. Mayhew is third with 317, followed by Thorn at 307 and Holmes at 281. Rounding out the top 10 are Gomez at 274, Self at 268, Hayley at 268, Austin Dyne at 256 and Ryan Philpott at 229.
The Pick-N-Pull Racing To Stop Hunger 200 will air on SPEED on July 12 at 3 p.m. ET.
The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule is the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Gene Price Motorsports at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., on July 14.