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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East heads to Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware, for the final event of the 2017 season, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 125 presented by Carl Deputy & Son Builders on Friday, June 29. Two drivers — NASCAR Next members Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton — have their eyes on a first career series championship.
Gilliland and Burton have enjoyed virtually identical seasons statistically. Each has four wins, and each has finished in the top 10 in all 13 races to date, making them the series leaders in both categories. Gilliland, the reigning NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion, has an eight-point lead over Burton entering the season finale at Dover.
Gilliland needs to finish third or better to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship trophy. If he leads a lap or leads the most laps, he can clinch the title with finishes of fourth or fifth, respectively. However, if Burton ends up in Victory Lane or eight points ahead of Gilliland, he will be crowned the 2017 K&N Pro Series East champion.
Between them, the two championship contenders have only one start at Dover, by Burton last season. He finished sixth in that race.
The second half of the season has been a remarkable one for Gilliland, who has finished either first or second in seven straight races heading into Dover. His most recent outing included a runner-up finish at New Jersey Motorsports Park, but his strength this season has been on the speedways. Gilliland won at both New Hampshire and Iowa this summer, while Burton finished fourth at each of those tracks, respectively.
|RACE:||National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 125 presented by Carl Deputy & Son Builders|
|PLACE:||Dover (Del.) International Speedway|
|DATE:||Friday, September 29|
|TIME:||5 p.m. ET|
|AIRDATE:||NBCSN, Friday, Oct. 6 at 10:30 p.m. ET|
|TRACK LAYOUT:||1-mile high-banked concrete oval|
|2016 WINNER:||Kyle Benjamin|
|2016 POLE WINNER:||Justin Haley|
|EVENT SCHEDULE:||Friday, September 29 — Garage opens: 7 a.m.; Practice: 8:30-9:30 a.m.; Group qualifying: 1:05 p.m.; Driver autograph session: 2:15 p.m.; National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 125: 5 p.m.|
|TRACK CONTACT:||Gary Camp, (302) 883-6560, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|NASCAR IMC CONTACT:||Brooke Franceschini, (386) 631-6142, email@example.com.|
The Race: The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 125 will be the 14th and final race on the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 cars will secure starting positions based on the two-lap qualifying session. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 125 laps (125 miles) with a five-minute break occurring at or near the conclusion of lap 28.
The Track: Known as the “Monster Mile,” Dover is an even one-mile concrete oval with banking of nine degrees on the straightaways and 24 degrees in the turns. The track has hosted the K&N Pro Series East 15 times in standalone events and the season finale for the series eight previous times since 2004.
Race Winners: There have been 13 winners in the previous 15 K&N East races at Dover. Austin Hill and Brett Moffitt are the only drivers to earn multiple victories at the track.
Track Records: In the 15 previous events, there have been 14 different pole winners. Darrell Wallace Jr. is the only multi-time polesitter at Dover, while Matt DiBenedetto holds the qualifying record at 23.201 seconds (155.166 mph), established in 2009.
Dover has hosted the K&N Pro Series in standalone competition in all but one season since 2001, and many of the drivers who have won in the series at the one-mile track have gone on to national series success in NASCAR.
Aric Almirola, Corey LaJoie and Darrell Wallace Jr., all of whom made Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts this season, have K&N Pro Series East wins at Dover, with Brett Moffitt being one of only two repeat winners in the series at the track.
Tight at the Top: Todd Gilliland leads Harrison Burton by eight points, marking the second time in the last three seasons that the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title race has headed into the final race of the season with the championship contenders separated by fewer than 15 points.
In 2015, Scott Heckert trailed William Byron by 13 points entering the series finale at Monster Mile.
Double Duty: Gilliland is attempting to become the first driver two win both K&N Pro Series championships — East and West — in the same season.
With one race left in the East, Gilliland has an eight-point lead over Burton. With three races remaining in the West, the 2016 defending champion is atop the standings by five points with a series-leading six wins through 11 races this season.
Feels Like The First Time: Collin Cabre returns to the site of his first career K&N Pro Series East win this weekend at Dover.
Cabre, a Rev Racing driver from Tampa, Florida, won the 2015 season finale at the track, leading a race-high 58 laps en route to Victory Lane. Cabre has one top five and four top 10s this season and sits ninth in the overall standings.
Welcome Back: Eddie MacDonald, a longtime series staple, returns to competition this weekend at Dover.
MacDonald, who leads all active drivers with 194 career series starts, will make his fourth start of the season. A seven-time winner in his career, including three wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and one at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, has made 15 career starts at Dover.
He has five top fives at the track, including a career-best runner-up finish in 2015.