All Todd Gilliland has to do to become NASCAR’s youngest series champion is finish 21st or better Saturday night in the Toyota/NAPA Auto 150 at Roseville’s All-American Speedway. Sure, the 16-year-old Bill McAnally Racing driver can nurse the car for the 150 laps of the K&N Pro Series West season-ending race and make sure he’s finishes better than the last five cars in the 26-car field.
But what fun would that be?
“We’ll be there to win,” said Gilliland, who is the son of NASCAR driver David Gilliland. “But we’ll also be really smart and that’s the way we’ve been running all season. Maybe instead of gunning for the lead, for instance, I may decide to run in second a bit longer.”
There’s no reason to drive as aggressively as he might if he was behind in the point chase. Unnecessary risks would be dumb, he said, because nothing would more cool than winning the race as you win the championship.
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If Gilliland does hold off Ryan Partridge – 25 points separates the two – he’ll deliver back-to-back championships to Roseville’s Bill McAnally Racing and the team’s seventh title. Chris Eggleston took the 2015 crown. He’s in seventh place going into the season finale. Other BMR drivers include Julie Landauer (fifth) and Riley Herbst (sixth). Granite Bay’s Cole Moore also will race Saturday from BMR. He’s in 18th place after just five starts this season.
Saturday will be the first series start in Roseville for Gilliland, who has six wins, 11 top fives and 12 top-10 finishes this season and who claimed the series rookie of the year title last month. David Gilliland has curtailed much of his own NASCAR season this year to coach and spot for his son, who is a member of the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class.
“Everything we’ve done this season has been special,” Todd Gilliland said, seemingly unaffected by his chance to make NASCAR history by becoming the youngest series champion ever. “I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
The event has raised more than $25,000 each year for the Placer County Breast Cancer Endowment. With rain on the forecast Saturday, McAnally has some contingencies in place such as renting the jet-powered track dryers used at Sonoma Raceway.
“They tell me that those jet dryers will do more than just fine on the small track at All American Speedway,” McAnally said.
For more information, go to bmrnapa.com/bmr-racing.
Forecast postpones Nor-Cal Shootout
The inaugural Nor-Cal Posse Shootout for winged sprint cars has been postponed, Placerville Speedway officals confirmed Wednesday night.
Originally scheduled for Friday and Saturday night, the event will now be a one-day show Oct. 28 at the speedway at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds.
The single day event will include the Friday format, qualifying each car, with the Saturday purse, $7,000 to win and $500 to start.
There’s still a chance to experience a full weekend of racing for dirt track sprint car fans. The Marysville Fall Gold Fever Sprint Spooktackular will be held Oct. 29 at Marysville Raceway.
USA beats the World
Avenging a 2015 loss, Team USA Speedway Motorcycle team beat a group of Scandanavian riders 58-55 on Oct. 7 on the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn.
The 16th annual USA vs. The World event brought Sweden’s Peter Karlsson, Mikael Max and Peter Ljung, Finland’s Joonas Kylmakorpi and Mikkel Michelsen of Denmark to the Fast Fridays flat track. Torrance rider Broc Nichol rounded out the European team.
The United States was represented by Auburn’s Bart Bast and Tommy Hedden, Citrus Heights resident Bryan Yarrow, seven-time national speedway champion Billy Janniro of Winters, and Southern California riders Luke Becker and Charlie Venegas. Bast has ridden in all 16 events.
“We started out a little slow but we picked it up toward the end, I think we are all a little surprised we got back in it,” said Bast in a release.
The annual event that has capped the Fast Fridays season since it began in 2001. Team USA has won every year except for 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2015, when The World squad won 55-48.
Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @editorwriter001