A record number of entries, several drivers capable of coming away with a victory, and a championship to be determined between teammates.
Sounds like a pretty good finish to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series season with the running of the West Coast Stock Car 150 on Saturday night at Kern County Raceway.
Bill McAnally Racing teammates Todd Gilliland and Chris Eggleston have dominated the series, accounting for 10 of the 13 wins. Gilliland, who won at KCRP in March, has won six times and leads four-time winner Eggleston by 11 points.
Gilliland, who won the championship last season, can sew up another with a seventh-place-or-better finish, but it is no lock. Gilliland lost a chance for the K&N Pro Series East championship when a flat tire sent him into the wall at Dover on Sept. 29.
While Gilliland and Eggleston have dominated the series, Michael Self has hit his stride and comes into the race with two straight wins.
There will be a trio of Bakersfield drivers in the race — series regular Blaine Perkins, who is ninth in points, former series champ Derek Thorn and Buddy Shepherd.
Thorn, the 2013 West Series champ, did not compete in the series for three years after his championship. This will be his second start of the season. A blown engine ended his day early on the road course in Sonoma in his only other start. Thorn is coming off a Spears Southwest Tour win at Kern County last Saturday night.
Shepherd is a three-time Late Model champion and won his first SWT race earlier this year at Madera. He ran second to Thorn last Saturday night. This will be his third West start this season in a Jefferson-Pitts Racing machine. He was derailed by an oil leak in March at KCRP and ran sixth at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore. in August.
Thirty drivers have pre-entered the race, including East drivers Ronnie Bassett Jr. and Dillon Bassett.
Hall of Fame sponsor
So, why is the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame sponsoring a race?
For the same reason any sponsor does: exposure.
The finale of the West series is a perfect opportunity to bring awareness to the Hall, said Ken Clapp, a member of the HOF as well as its chairman.
“Our intent in sponsoring the race is to give fans the opportunity to see the west’s top teams race for a championship on a track perfectly suited to showcasing their talents,” Clapp said. “It likewise enables the hall to reach out to the public and celebrate the many accomplishments of present and future inductees.
“We’re doing it in cooperation with NAPA, Bill McAnally is on the board of directors (as well as a member).”
The official title of the race is the West Coast Stock Car Hall Of Fame 150, Presented by NAPA Auto Parts.
The K&N West Series dates back to 1954 and 22 of its champions are in the HOF, including Bakersfield’s Mike Duncan.
It’s a virtual hall of fame — westcoaststockcarhalloffame.com — with no brick and mortar building.
“We’ve had offers for a permanent site and we put some thought into it,” Clapp said. “But we’re probably better off doing it the way we are.”
The mission of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, founded in 2001, is to preserve history and heritage of the role west coast stock car competitors have played in the sport’s development and to recognize outstanding individuals and groups within the sport with annual enshrinement.
The event serves as prelude to this month’s balloting among members of the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame to determine the organization’s Class of 2018. Two rounds of voting will select five inductees from an initial list of 20 nominees to be announced Nov. 12.