By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West returns to action Saturday for the running of the NAPA Auto Parts 175 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Washington, and its championship battle has heated up with only six races remaining.
Bob Bruncati Racing drivers Derek Thorn and Ryan Partridge are tied in first. Both drivers have a win to their name, but Thorn owns the tiebreaker because of his four runner-up finishes to Partridge’s two. The 2013 series champion captured his latest runner-up effort in the combination race at Iowa Speedway July 27, won by Tyler Ankrum. Partridge finished third.
The duo also have two previous starts at Evergreen, with both instances scoring top-fives, with Partridge finishing runner-up to David Mayhew in 2015.
Outside of the tied leaders, five other drivers are looking to jump into the title mix, and are separated by 51 points. Notably, the Bill McAnally Racing trio of Derek Kraus (26 points behind Thorn and Partridge), Cole Rouse (29 behind), and Hailie Deegan (45 behind).
Among the three, they have a combined two starts (Saturday will be Deegan’s first start at Evergreen) with Rouse’s sixth-place effort in 2016 being the best. Last year, Kraus was handcuffed with a one-lap penalty for turning around Tayler Riddle in Turn 1 on Lap 148, finishing 11th in his only start.
With defending winner Chris Eggleston, who led all 154 laps, out of the picture, Saturday’s contest will have a new face in victory lane, and an early favorite could be last year’s runner-up finisher and Sonoma winner Will Rodgers.
Last Friday, Rodgers came up short of winning the East race at Watkins Glen after being passed by Camping World Truck Series championship contender Brett Moffitt on the final lap.
Perhaps the biggest change is the addition of three stages and extending the race from 150 to 175 laps, the former Truck Series venue from 1995-2000, and part of the KNPSW schedule since 1965, is poised to be the turning point of the season.
By the Numbers
What: NAPA Auto Parts 175 presented by the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame, NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Race 9
Where: Evergreen Speedway – Monroe, Washington (Opened: 1954)
TV: NBCSN, 6:00 p.m. ET (airs on Wednesday, August 15)
Track Size: 0.625-mile paved oval
Race Length: 175 Laps, 109.375 miles
2017 Race Winner: Chris Eggleston – No. 99 NAPA Filters Toyota (Started first, 154 laps led).
Track Qualifying Record: Greg Pursley (101.862 mph – 2011).
Storylines Heading into the NAPA Auto Parts 175:
There are several storylines going into this weekend’s race to watch for:
- The segment breaks will be five minutes and will take place at or near the conclusion of Laps 63 and 125.
- Among the 15 cars (14 drivers confirmed) that have entered, Partridge and Rodgers finished runner-up, the best finishers at Evergreen in this year’s field.
- Will Rodgers will make his first KNPSW start since winning the Carneros 200 at Sonoma Raceway, where he beat Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Aric Almirola by 4.420 seconds.
- Armani Williams will make his KNPSW debut at Evergreen. The 18-year-old from Detroit made history in the K&N East race at Memphis International Raceway in June, becoming the first driver with autism to have competed in a regional NASCAR race. Williams finished 16th, three laps behind winner Ruben Garcia, Jr.
- At age 49, Ron Norman is the oldest driver in the field, and will make just his fifth start of the season. His last two races (Tucson and Douglas County), resulted in lead lap top-10 efforts.
- Hailie Deegan will look to bounce back after finishing 21st at Iowa, where she was involved in a two-car crash with Anthony Alfredo. The accident resulted the 17-year-old’s only non-top-10 finish and DNF in her young career.
Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)
Saturday, August 11
- KNPSW First Practice (3:15 p.m.)
- KNPSW Final Practice (4:15 p.m.)
- KNPSW Qualifying (7 p.m.)
- KNPSW NAPA Auto Parts 175 (9:30 p.m. – 175 laps, 109.375 miles – airing on NBCSN on Wednesday, August 15 6:00 p.m.)