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BAKERSFILED, Calif. -- Todd Gilliland and Kern County Raceway Park seem to be a match made in heaven.
Gilliland earned his third career 21 Means 21 pole award at Kern when qualifying concluded from the half-mile California oval on Saturday afternoon for the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Championship 150. The award was also the 17-year-old's third consecutive at Kern, seventh of this season and 13th in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West career.
The pole also breaks a tie for most in track history. the NASCAR Next driver was tied with Greg Pursley, who earned two poles at the Bakersfield track, but is now the all-time leader in pole positions at Kern County Raceway Park.
The Sherrils Ford, North Carolina, native's blazing quick lap came on his second qualifying circuit and was 98.901 mph (18.200 seconds). Every time Gilliland has started on the pole in his career at Kern, he's wound up in Victory Lane. He has also won four of six events when he's started first this season.
His Bill McAnally Racing teammate, Derek Kraus, will roll off alongside Gilliland, as his lap of 98.377 mph (18.297 seconds) was good enough for second-place. Riley Herbst, Ronnie Basset Jr. and Chris Eggleston, who sits second in the championshiip standings, rounded out the top five qualifiers.
Dillon Bassett, Buddy Shepherd, Michael Self, Derek Thorn and Julia Landauer completed the top 10 qualifiers.
Gilliland can clinch his second consecutive NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship with a finish of seventh or better in tonight's race. Eggleston, the 2015 series champion, has a career-best finish of fourth at Kern coming earlier this season. In his two prior starts in 2015 and 2016 respectively, he finished fifth.
The green flag for the 2017 season finale, the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame Championship 150, is scheduled to fly at 8 p.m. PT.