HScott Motorsports announced Monday it will not field a team in NASCAR’s premier series in 2017.
The move had been expected for some time.
The team sold its charter that was used for the No. 15 car of Clint Bowyer to Premium Motorsports. The charter the organization leased from Premium Motorsports for the No. 46 car of Michael Annett was sold by Premium Motorsports to Furniture Row Racing for the No. 77 car rookie Erik Jones will drive in 2017.
Bowyer will drive the No. 14 at Stewart-Haas Racing in place of Tony Stewart next year, and Annett moves to the Xfinity Series to drive for JR Motorsports.
Harry Scott Jr., issued a statement Monday that read:
“Over the past several months I considered a number of options for moving forward with the team. Regrettably there are no viable sponsor/driver options immediately available to allow the team to participate in 2017.
“One thing I learned about NASCAR is that it is a ‘people business.’ I will forever be grateful to the men and women who worked tirelessly to make HScott Racing successful. This includes our dedicated employees, sponsors and partners. We were fortunate to have the support of world-class sponsors like Brandt, DC Solar, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Pilot Flying J, and 5 hour ENERGY. Our racing program would not have been possible without the assistance of Rick Hendrick, Hendrick Motorsports, and Chevrolet.
“I love this sport and being part of it. I invested in NASCAR because I truly believe it represents the best racing competition in the world and the best people in all sports. Looking back, I will always be especially proud of the unprecedented success of our NASCAR K&N Series teams, including four consecutive championships and for the lifelong friendships that were forged over the last seven years. My hope is that we were able to develop drivers that will thrive at the highest levels for years to come.”
Scott purchased Phoenix Racing from long-time car owner James Finch in August 2013. Justin Allgaier joined the team and ran all but one race in 2014-15. The organization moved to two cars in 2015 when Annett joined. Bowyer replaced Allgaier for this past season.
Bill McAnally was “fighting to get $2 to put gas” in his pickup in Ukiah, California, where he hauled bales of hay.
David Gilliland helped his dad, Butch Gilliland, field his entry in his first full-time season in NASCAR’s Winton West Series, which became the K&N Pro Series West circuit.
Chris Lawson, the son of parents who work in the insurance industry, chipped away at his own racing dreams in Dayton, Ohio.
In the last 15 years, McAnally won five of his record seven K&N West titles as a team owner. David Gilliland competed in 398 races in NASCAR’s three national series, including 332 in Sprint Cup. Lawson embraced the life of a crew chief.
All three men would help Todd Gilliland become NASCAR’s youngest champion.
THE NEW KID
McAnally only made 56 starts as a driver in what used to be the Winston West Series.
One race weekend, at All-American Speedway in Roseville, California, stands out to the owner of Bill McAnally Racing thanks to the helping hand of Butch Gilliland.
Gilliland flew from Anaheim to help McAnally with his car after he ran behind him in a previous race and saw how bad it handled as he ran behind it.
After they were done, Gilliland refused to let McAnally pay for his plane ticket.
“’I’m just glad you’ll be in a better car so I’m not in harm’s way,” Gilliland said.
Two decades later, at the same .333-mile track in Northern California, McAnally doused Butch Gilliland’s grandson, Todd, in a Gatorade bath, yelling “Congratulations, Champ!”
Todd Gilliland finished eighth last month in the Toyota / NAPA Auto Parts 150 to clinch the K&N Pro Series West title.
At 16 years and 5 months, the Riverside, California, native became the youngest NASCAR champion in history, topping the mark set a month earlier by Cayden Lapcevich (16 years, 10 months, 16 days) in NASCAR’s Pinty’s Series. Before that, Joey Logano held the distinction after winning the 2007 K&N Pro Series East title at 17 years, 3 months, 28 days.
“We had a lot of family there, that’s where almost everyone is from.” Todd Gilliland said a week after winning the title. “They all came out to the track to support us. It’s super cool to be able to take a picture with everyone I’ve grown up around.”
The path to those championship portraits started at Roseville in August of last year. McAnally held a two-day driver expo at his team’s shop and All-American Speedway.
Also present: former NASCAR crew chief Larry McReynolds, multiple NASCAR officials and representatives from NAPA Auto Parts, Toyota and the WIX Corporation.
Waiting for the drivers at the track were six K&N cars prepared by McAnally’s team. On the first day, each driver made three, 15-lap runs. After tune-ups based on driver feedback, they made mock qualifying runs.
It was before the initial practice session that McAnally had his first lengthy talk with Todd Gilliland. McAnally said he thought the young racer seemed “really nervous.”
“His driving showed it,” McAnally said. “He wasn’t consistent, he wasn’t smooth. David (Gilliland) was on the radio leaning on him. The coach we had with him was calming him down, and by the second session he had calmed down and he went out there and ran some smooth, consistent laps. By the next day, he was the fastest, smoothest driver out there by far.”
Todd Gilliland also was impressed.
“We saw the A+ operation he had going on there, the people he had in place,” the driver said of McAnally in May. “We just felt it was the best fit for us this year.”
McAnally and his sponsors agreed.
Gilliland ran the No. 54 Toyota for McAnally at Phoenix at the end of the year. In his first K&N West start, he led six laps and won.
While David Gilliland had a hand in building his son’s cars, he didn’t get to see much of Todd’s career.
That’s what happens when your Sprint Cup Series career takes priority for 10 years.
But David was there when his son did donuts in a quarter-midget in a dirt lot across the street from the family’s Riverside home. He also saw Todd’s first quarter-midget race on his son’s fifth birthday, his ARCA win and the 2015 Phoenix race.
Without a Sprint Cup ride for the first time since 2006, David Gilliland finally experienced a full season of his son’s career.
And he did do so in his least favorite racing role – as a spotter.
“’I just didn’t want to be part of a problem or making a mistake or something like that,” David Gilliland said. “It was something (Todd) really wanted me to do.”
Instead of having a driver coach, spotter and crew chief taking to his son, David Gilliland would be the coach and spotter.
“I think that’s something that’s helped me a lot this year to have him tell me when I’m doing something wrong or right,” Todd Gilliland said. “He kind of makes myself better throughout the entire race. He also knows a lot about those cars and different situations that he’s been in before.”
The other voice talking to Todd Gilliland was Lawson, the crew chief who has worked with the Gillilands since 2014.
With that arrangement, Todd Gilliland won his first four K&N starts, tying the 60-year-old record set by Dan Gurney. His eight wins in 2016 surpassed the mark set Joey Logano (2007) and Dylan Kwasniewski (2014).
FILLING UP THE BOARD
McAnally was concerned.
Todd Gilliland hit his first real bump by finishing ninth in his second K&N East start at Bristol in April.
“All of sudden we’re off on our setup,” McAnally says. “We missed it. We had a top-10 car. So he finishes the race. I’m shaking my head, ‘How’s he going to be getting out of the car?’ All he’s ever done is win in a K&N car and now he’s fighting to be in the top 10.”
When he arrived at the No. 16 car, McAnally found his driver sitting on its door in good spirits.
“Lead a lap, top-10 finish,” Todd Gilliland announced. “I get two more splats on the board!”
On the wall of McAnally’s shop is a 10-by-20-foot board labelled “2016 Team Checklist.”
The board has 11 items that can be checked off by McNally’s four drivers for any given race. They include finish race lead lap, top-three finish, win race, and at the bottom, win championship.
Todd Gilliland was the only teammate to put a “splat” in every box.
While Todd Gilliland enjoyed a rookie season no one else has, including being named to the NASCAR Next class, he’s enthusiastic about learning what he hasn’t from his owner, father and crew chief.
Lawson saw that enthusiasm during the K&N East race in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Todd Gilliland was in second on a restart with two laps to go. Corey LaJoie, a veteran of 37 K&N races, led.
“(LaJoie) just smoked us on the restart,” Lawson said. “He just wore us out bad, and right after the restart was over, literally going down the backstretch, Todd is about four car lengths back off of him and goes ‘Man, that is awesome. I need to learn how to do that.’
“To me that’s cool, not only that he realizes it, he understood what happened, he wants to step his game up to be that good. He wasn’t mad, saying we got beat. He said ‘man, I want to do that. I want to be able to do that.’”
He’ll get that chance next year, whether it’s in the K&N Series, ARCA or venturing into the Camping World Truck Series.
Before that, Todd Gilliland will celebrate his title Dec. 11 at the NASCAR Touring Night of Champions Awards.
Then he can start preparing for next season and giving people reasons to consider what they were doing at 17.
Ranier Racing with MDM will debut this year and focus on running up-and-coming drivers in select NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, K&N Pro Series East and ARCA races, the team announced Wednesday night.
The team is a partnership between Lorin Ranier, son of former NASCAR owner Harry Ranier, and MDM-Hillman Racing.
“This is a great opportunity to bring the Ranier Racing legacy into the modern era,” said Ranier, whose father’s operation won 24 Sprint Cup races. “Over the last several months, we’ve worked hard to assemble some of the freshest driving talent and accomplished competition personnel in stock car racing. It’s exciting to see it all come together and we’re eager to get the season started.”
The team did not announce any drivers, but noted that former driver Mark McFarland will lead the competition department. McFarland spent the past two years at HScott Motorsports and guided Ben Rhodes to the 2014 K&N Pro Series East title. Mardy Lindley will be a crew chief. He led Dylan Kwasniewski to the 2013 K&N Pro Series East crown. Doug Howe, a crew chief in the Truck and K&N Series, also joins the team.
Kyle Busch dominated, leading 190 of 200 laps, to win Saturday’s DAV 200 Xfinity Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
It was Busch’s 76th career win and sixth of the season in 14 starts. It also was his eighth career win at the 1-mile track, marking his most series wins at a track with Bristol Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Points leader Chris Buescher struggled to a 13th-place finish, finishing one lap down.
Buescher leads defending series champion Chase Elliott by 18 points heading into next weekend’s season finale in Miami. Ty Dillon is 22 points back, while Regan Smith is 24 points back in fourth place in the standings. Buescher clinches the title by finishing 13th or better next week.
HOW BUSCH WON: Basically, it boiled down to Busch turning the ignition on. It was all downhill from there, as Busch dominated. He was never threatened, didn’t have to worry about running out of fuel, and simply enjoyed a leisurely and comfortable drive in the desert.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Ty Dillon, Chase Elliott and Regan Smith all had strong runs and came home with finishes of fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. In so doing, they all closed in on points leader Chris Buescher. … Erik Jones, who all but clinched the Truck Series championship Friday night, finished third. Jones will complete the weekend triple, racing Sunday in place of the suspended Matt Kenseth.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE:Dylan Kwasniewski wrecked hard on Lap 57, finishing 34th. … Jeremy Clements also wrecked hard on Lap 112. He managed to get his car repaired quickly in the garage, but finished 30th, 14 laps behind the leaders. … Ruben Pardo, who won the season-opening race of the NASCAR Mexico Series at Phoenix, finished 38th.
NOTABLE: Even though he’s just 18 points ahead of Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher referenced the world championship. “In the grand scheme of things, it was a decent day. We’re going to Homestead comfortable. I can finally use the word. We can go there and race, stay out of trouble and should be in good shape. … We’re not done yet.” … Ross Kenseth, in his second career Xfinity Series race, struggled to a 33rd-place finish, 51 laps off the lead lap.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “18 (points) is really not much. It’s just 18 spots. That’s one mistake left or right, up or down, getting in the gas too soon and slapping the wall with the right rear and having an issue, just so many things can happen. I could sit here and name an endless amount. A lot of things can happen. We need to have a solid week and hope for the best.” – Chase Elliott, second in the standings to Chris Buescher by 18 points.
NEXT: The season-ending Ford 300, Nov. 21, at Homestead-Miami Speedway.