GMS Racing will expand into the K&N Pro Series East and West and the ARCA Racing Series next year, the team announced Wednesday.
The team will field 15-year-old Sam Mayer in each series where he will drive the No. 21.
Mayer is also scheduled to make four starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series with the first set for August at Bristol Motor Speedway after he turns 16 in June.
The native of Franklin, Wisconsin, joins GMS Racing with seven K&N starts and three ARCA starts in his career.
“GMS Racing has had tons of success over the past couple years, especially this past year,” Mayer said in a press release. “Knowing that a great team is behind me going into next season gives me a lot of confidence that we will have success, too.”
He earned two top fives in his six K&N East starts.
Mayer made his ARCA debut at Iowa Speedway and finished 10th and later placed seventh at Lucas Oil Raceway.
He will make his debut in the K&N East season opener at Smyrna Speedway on Feb. 10.
“We are excited to add K&N, as well as ARCA to our organization in 2019,” said team president Mike Beam in a press release. “Mayer is very talented at such a young age, and I see a big future for him in motorsports. I’m glad that he chose us to pursue his career in racing. Our goal has always been to build championship caliber teams no matter what series we participate in. With Mayer behind the wheel and Mardy Lindley leading the team, I do not doubt in my mind they will be successful in 2019.”
NASCAR reveals key points for ARCA, K&N Series for 2020
Full integration of the ARCA Series to NASCAR will be in 2020. Here are NASCAR’s plans:
Drivers will have the opportunity to compete for four championships, all of which feature an enduring commitment to grassroots short-track racing:
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and K&N Pro Series East championship calendars will feature approximately six to eight events, competing on historic short tracks (under 1 mile) within their traditional regional footprint.
The ARCA Racing Elite Series presented by Menards will be made up of approximately 20 races, with at least half on speedways (over 1 mile) that include traditional companion events in both the ARCA and Pro Series.
The fourth championship will be the Stock Car Invitational. This championship will consist of the remaining approximately 10 races of the Elite Series, and will be on premier short tracks that have long been part of both ARCA and the K&N Pro Series. To be eligible for the championship in this three-way combination series, East and West competitors must compete in a minimum number of races across those series.
The chassis and body will be roughly the same across all four championships. Teams competing in the Elite Series will run the current ARCA engine package, while teams competing in the Pro Series East and West will run the existing engine package in those series. Teams choosing to compete for the Stock Car Invitational title must race with the same engine they used in the Elite or Pro Series East / West.
Drivers must be at least 15 years old to compete in the Pro Series East and West as well as the Stock Car Invitational. Drivers must be at least 18 years old to compete in the Elite Series.
NASCAR stated it is continuing to gather feedback from teams, competitors and industry stakeholders.
Details, such as series names, TV coverage and race sites, will be finalized over the coming months.
K&N Pro Series, Whelen Modified broadcast schedule on NBCSN
NBCSN is again set to exclusively air broadcasts of NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East and West races along with broadcasts of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
All the broadcasts will be tape delayed.
NBCSN will air 37 regional series events, culminating with championship races for all three series. Fans can watch victors crowned in the K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on Oct. 11 and Oct. 18, respectively, followed by the K&N Pro Series West championship on Nov. 1. NASCAR’s touring series will also be featured in regular highlights and reports on “NASCAR America,” weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
The first K&N West broadcast, of the season opener at Kern County Raceway, is set for 11 p.m. ET on March 20.
The first Whelen Modified race will air the following day at 6 p.m. ET.
The first K&N East broadcast, from Bristol Motor Speedway, is scheduled for 1 a.m. ET on April 20.
Below is NBCSN’s full broadcast schedule for all three series.
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.
They’re old enough to vote and race at 180 mph for living, but can’t buy a beer.
Then there’s Todd Gilliland. At the age of 15, only one of those is an option.
The son of veteran NASCAR driver David Gilliland, Todd Gilliland is the newest kid on the block in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series circuit.
In the last year, he has won all three K&N Pro Series races he’s entered with Bill McAnally Racing and become the youngest winner in ARCA Racing history.
But last July, the need to drive on a speedway temporarily derailed his chances of driving around an actual block in his hometown of Mooresville, North Carolina.
“I didn’t get my permit on my birthday (on May 15),” Todd Gilliland told NBC Sports. “I was in driver’s ed … and then I was going to go run Iowa (Speedway) in an ARCA car. I had to quit. I had to miss the last day of driver’s ed. I had to retake driver’s ed.”
Making a sacrifice, big or small, is nothing new in the Gilliland family when it comes to pursuing racing dreams.
When Todd Gilliland’s sister Taylor was born 13 years ago, David Gilliland had enough time to welcome her into the world. Then he jumped into a waiting truck in the hospital parking lot that carried him to his next race.
Just a few short years into Todd Gilliland’s career, the racing had to stop. His father’s NASCAR dreams came to fruition, meaning the family would move from California to North Carolina.
“When we moved out to North Carolina from California we got really busy and took off for a little bit,” Todd Gilliland said.
A little bit was two years. Meanwhile, friends he had back in California continued to race
“I went out there sometimes and watched them do really good and stuff like that,” Todd Gilliland said. “But having to watch kills me. It still kills me when I have to go to the race track and not race. I think it gave me more passion, not that I didn’t have it before. I never want to be out of the race car ever again.”
The only thing that may keep him out of a car now is his mother, Michelle Gilliland, and her one mandate for her son’s career.
“My mom says I have to have As and Bs to race,” Todd Gilliland said.
A sophomore in high school, Todd Gilliland doesn’t have plans to attend college. He plans to take the same road that led his father to 10 seasons in the Sprint Cup Series, a Daytona 500 pole and one win in the Xfinity Series. That road also led his grandfather, Butch Gilliland, to winning the 1997 Winston West Series championship.
The road’s already leading to good career stops. Todd Gilliland is competing full-time in the K&N West series this year in addition to joining Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Super Late Model team.
Todd Gilliland’s pursuit of his dream will be fully shared with his dad, who is without a full-time ride in NASCAR for the first time since 2007.
“He’s always been super involved, but I think this is the most involved he’s been,” Todd Gilliland said. “Last year he put every minute of time he was home into my stuff, but that wasn’t even that much because he was gone so much. This year, he has the time and I’m going to be the main thing that he does. He’s been at the shop every day (crew chief) Chris (Lawson) has. The shop is out there in Sacramento, California, and we live in Mooresville, North Carolina. He’ll go out there for like a week at a time before every race and work hard and everything. He’s always out there.”
After a family vacation this week, Todd Gilliland will be on a plane out to Bakersfield, California, to compete in the K&N West race at Kern County Raceway Park. It will be the latest stop in young career that can find its roots at the North Carolina Quarter Midget Association track in Salisbury, North Carolina.
That’s the site of Todd Gilliland’s earliest memory of racing himself, in an event that still drives him years later.
“There was only four cars in my race, I was running third,” he remembers. “There was a caution with a couple of laps to go and the guy (behind me) beat me so I finished last in the race. Gosh, that race still gets me inside because that was the first race I even remember racing. I finished last.