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HAMPTON, Va. – Todd Gilliland made a late race pass on Dillon Bassett and set sail, cruising to his fourth NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win of the season in Monday’s Visit Hampton Virginia 150 at Langley Speedway.
Gilliland surrendered the lead to Dillon Bassett early in the race and, when Bassett pulled out to a two second advantage, Gilliland began to save his tires before mounting his late race charge. With 39 laps to go, the 17-year-old from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, made his move, taking the lead from Bassett and never looking back.
“I think we were all saving tires from second on back,” Gilliland said after the race. “Dad told me we were kind of in the line and when [Bassett] was trying to get away like that, we just had to be mentally tough and let him get out there. That’s always tough as a racecar driver but, in a 150 lap race, you’ve got to know when to let them go.”
After taking the lead, Gilliland survived a challenge from eventual runner-up finisher Chase Purdy on a restart and continued to pull away from the rest of the field. With his victory, the NASCAR Next driver took over the points lead in the K&N Pro Series East championship standings with just two races remaining.
“This is a crucial part of the season overall,” Gilliland explained. “With there only being 14 races, all of them are very important. This one is huge for us, taking the lead. We had some bad luck to start the year off but, man, we’ve come on strong in these summer months. We’ve just got two more races to go get it.”
Harrison Burton, who entered Monday’s race with a four point advantage, surrendered his championship lead as a result of his seventh place finish. After the race, Burton said he was just looking ahead to the road course at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
“It was a tough race for us,” Burton remarked. “We didn’t have the handle on the car all week. We’ve got to win the next two, that’s what we have to do. It’s something we’re really capable of. We’ve got to go to the road course and win and I know I’m capable of it. I believe in my team and we’re going to have a great car. Then we’ve got to go to Dover and take care of business there.”
While Todd Gilliland was pulling away, Dominique Van Wieringen mounted a late race surge after starting in the 12th position. The Canadian racer, who teamed up at the last minute with Rette-Jones Racing to make her season debut, made a series of three-wide passes on the outside lane to race her way to a third place finish.
After the race, Van Wieringen was ecstatic about her effort.
“I learned, when I started racing late models, that you’ve got to make the outside work and I was dead set determined to be the one that makes the outside work,” Van Wieringen stated. “I haven’t raced in over a year and I was worried, with our qualifying result, that we would be able to make our way up in the top-three so this is an exhilarating moment.”
Ronnie Bassett, Jr. finished in fourth while Collin Cabre finished fifth.
Ruben Garcia Jr finished sixth with Jay Beasley, Sam Hunt and Justin Carroll finishing eighth, ninth and tenth, respectively.
Gilliland now assumes a six points lead over Burton with just two races remaining in the season.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will be back in action at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersey on Saturday, September 16.
The Visit Hampton Virginia 150 will air on NBCSN Thursday, September 7 at 7 p.m. ET.
Dillon Bassett, driver of the #44 Bassett Gutters and More Ford, and Todd Gilliland, driver of the #16 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, go two-wide during the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Visit Hampton Virginia 150 at Langley Speedway on September 4, 2017 in Hampton, Virginia. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images for NASCAR)