(Photo courtesy Todd Gilliland official Twitter account)

Todd Gilliland to run full K&N Pro Series West schedule in 2016

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The quick progression of young Todd Gilliland up the racing ladder continues.

The 15-year-old son of NASCAR driver David Gilliland will compete full-time in the K&N Pro Series West in 2016 for six-time and defending series championship team Bill McAnally Racing, it was announced Wednesday.

Gilliland drew a great deal of attention two weeks ago when he won his K&N West debut at Phoenix, making him the youngest winner in series history.

“We finished the year strong, with Chris clinching the championship at Phoenix and Todd scoring the win in his series debut,” team owner Bill McAnally said in a release. “We plan to work hard in the off-season to carry that momentum forward into next season.”

Gilliland is a third-generation competitor in the K&N Series. Father David won the rookie title in 2004 and grandfather Butch won the 1997 series championship.

“Hopefully, I can carry on the family tradition,” the youngest Gilliland said in a team release. As for the 2016 season, he added, “It’s going to be a great learning experience. It will be good to have a championship driver like Chris Eggleston to lean on and learn from, especially early in the season.”

Gilliland will be teammates with defending 2015 K&N West championship driver Chris Eggleston, as well as Riley Herbst.

All three drivers will race the full K&N West schedule, along with select events in the K&N East Series.

Eggleston won the 2015 K&N West championship for BMR in his first full season in the series and will return to defend his title in 2016.

A native of Erie, Colorado, the 26-year-old Eggleston has three wins, 11 top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 17 career starts in the K&N Pro Series West.

Much like Gilliland did with his win at Phoenix, Eggleston won his first race with BMR in 2014, leading McAnally to put him in a full-time ride that resulted in the championship in 2015.

Herbst, meanwhile, will make his debut in the K&N West Series in 2016. In 2015, Herbst won the championship in Speed Trucks as a rookie at Irwindale (California) Speedway.

“It’s great to have Chris return to defend his title and to have such talented young drivers as Todd and Riley join the team,” McAnally said. “We have high expectations, based on what we have seen from all three of them.”

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NASCAR mourns Kobe Bryant

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Joining their brethren in other sports, the NASCAR world took to social media upon learning the tragic news of the death of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Bryant had met a number of NASCAR drivers in his career, including Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. They were among a number of NASCAR notables who took to social media to mourn Bryant:

 

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Chad Knaus and wife expecting second child

Photo courtesy Brooke Knaus official Instagram account
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Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion crew chief Chad Knaus and wife Brooke are expecting their second child.

Brooke made the announcement Saturday on her Instagram account.

The couple, already parents to one-year-old son Kip, will soon be adding a daughter to their growing family.

Brooke Knaus’s Instagram post said the baby is due in July.

Kip figured prominently in the baby revelation, coming at the end of mom and dad’s ski run while vacationing in Telluride, Colorado:

 

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Kyle Larson flips, misses finals of Australia’s biggest sprint car race

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Kyle Larson’s hope of following up last week’s Chili Bowl win with a triumph in Australia’s prestigious Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic fell far short Sunday.

Larson’s bid to race his way into the 24-car finals of the three-day race at Premier Speedway in Warrnambool, Australia, ended when he flipped (uninjured) on the opening lap of a last-chance qualifying heat race earlier in the evening.

Instead of being one of the featured drivers in the Classic’s 40-lap finale – the largest and most popular sprint car race of the year in the land down under – Larson was left to watch the event from the pits and cheer on Dyson Motorsport teammate and fellow American Carson Macedo.

Even that didn’t go very well, as Macedo flipped his own sprint car on the first lap of the Classic, resulting in a last-place finish. The highest finishing American was Cory Eliason, who ended up fourth.

Meanwhile, it was an all-Australian podium, with James McFadden winning the Classic for the second time in his career, followed by James Veal and Kerry Madsen.

In eight days, Larson went from capturing what he called the biggest win ever of his racing career on all levels – the Chili Bowl in his 13th try last Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma – to nothing but bad luck and utter frustration throughout his Australian journey.

Larson’s first race on Wednesday in the King’s Challenge at Borderline Speedway was rained out.

Then, in the first night of the Classic on Friday, Larson wrecked heavily in his first heat race, including flipping (he was uninjured). After his team repaired his car, Larson went back on the track, only to suffer a blown engine that knocked him out of contention to race in that evening’s feature event.

After not being on the schedule to race in Night 2 of the Classic on Saturday, Larson had one last chance to make Sunday’s featured championship event.

A total of 80 drivers battled it out in the B, C and D Mains for the eight remaining spots in the A Main, but Larson would end up not being one of those — as can be seen in the second line of the following tweet by his team:

Larson now returns to the United States to prepare for the Daytona 500 on February 16.

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Kyle Busch feeling like ‘the new guy’ during his Rolex 24 debut at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch was looking forward to his first stint at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The two-time Cup champion was less enthused about his second turn behind the wheel in the IMSA season opener. Busch will climb back into the No. 14 Lexus RCF GT3 at 2 a.m. Sunday, just past the midpoint of the endurance race classic at Daytona International Speedway.

“That’s going to suck, yeah,” Busch deadpanned. “That’s exactly when I told them I did not want to run, and I got it.  Thank you very much.

“(I’m) the new guy.  I pulled the short straw.”

Click here to read more about how Busch felt about his AIM Vasser Sullivan car.