Todd Gilliland wins Bristol for the first time in K&N Series Zombie Auto 150

Bristol Motor SpeedwayTodd Gilliland is getting the job done on the track. The driver of the No. 98 Mobil 1 Toyota may have struggled on the high banks of Bristol in the past but on Saturday afternoon, the son of former NASCAR driver David Gilliland learned from those troubles and made it count when he needed inspiration to win.

Despite picking up his 20th career K&N Pro Series victory in fifty starts, winning on The World’s Fastest Half-Mile was very special.

“It means so much,” replied Gilliland in his post race comments. “We’ve struggled here in the past and we just made the changes we needed to. Once you get that first (win) out of the way, you just kind of get that winning feeling.”

With a Zombie Auto 150 race that featured three red flags and several cautions, it made the job of winning a little more challenging but not achievable.

Fighting off challenges of Bristol and the other drivers have been a common thing in Gilliland’s portfolio. Saturday afternoon, it was no different.

After patiently working his way around the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway, Gilliland took the lead from Tyler Ankrum, who eventually finished fourth. A caution on lap 101 rest the grid back to the line and Gilliland was there to jump on it.

He’d just have to battle last year’s winner Harrison Burton and Camping World Truck Series driver Noah Gragson, who qualified on the pole.

With more carnage, came more cautions and the final restart of the race came with 10 laps remaining. With Gilliland out in front, the real battle inside The Last Great Colosseum was between Burton and Gragson who dueled for the runner-up spot, with Burton passing him on the inside with six laps remaining. It was another strong finish for Jeff Burton’s son, driver of the No. 12 Dex Imaging Toyota.

“I was going back and forth between third and fourth, and I just wanted to get a shot at (Gilliland), ” replied Burton. “After about 4-5 laps we came on really good and I thought we were probably the strongest car out there, but there just wasn’t enough time.”

As for pole winner Gragson and driver of the No. 54 Switch Toyota, he was hoping to pick up his first win at Bristol but now those plans will switch to August when the Truck Series visits Bristol. Gragson added that it seemed his team couldn’t get the momentum going.

“You can’t get your momentum rolling. I guess I’m just going to have to build on my notebook for when we come back here in the trucks.”

“I wanted to get that win so bad but we were just too tight there at the end.”

By Rod Mullins / Augusta Free Press

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