Sports

A phone call, a full-time NASCAR ride — and K&N Pro Series West points title?

Someday it might turn out to be the great debate about NASCAR driver Chris Eggleston.

Which took him further — a lifetime of talent, or a day’s worth of extreme courage?

Eggleston, of Erie, Colorado, has dominated the late-model circuit like no other in his home state. At his home track at Colorado National Speedway, he won nearly half the times that he started races.

The 26-year-old is now a member of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West circuit, driving for longtime owner Bill McAnally, and sits second in the points behind rookie Noah Gragson.

In his first full season, Eggleston has two wins to his name in the No. 99 NAPA Belts & Hoses/H2O Fire Protection Toyota car, both in California.

He captured the title at the King Taco Catering/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Irwindale Speedway in April, and the Bill Schmitt Memorial 150 at Shasta Speedway in May.

But he surrendered the points lead to Gragson after the #ThanksKenny 150 in Iowa late last month, and has not really been a factor since his last victory.

The K&N Series comes to Evergreen Speedway on Saturday night for the NAPA 150 in Monroe.

“I’ve been telling everyone, this season has been nothing but peaks and valleys,” Eggleston said. “We are in a valley right now. We’ve had some bad luck, and struggled the last three races.”

Of course, Eggleston might look at one phone call he made last year, and consider himself very lucky.

To his credit, Eggleston has never been timid about spending money to improve his racing profile nationally.

Back in 2010, he joined the low-budget SS-Green Light Racing team for five races on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, finishing inside the top 20 twice.

It’s a mystery whether those solid showings had any influence on McAnally when Eggleston phoned the owner’s office out of the blue last year to see if the two could put together a K&N Series race deal.

The K&N Series was headed to Colorado National Speedway late that season, and Eggleston figured he had nothing to lose in contacting McAnally about trying to get a ride for the race.

“I talked to his secretary to tell him who I was, and what I did,” Eggleston said.

The next day McAnally returned the phone call. They talked about a deal.

It took several months to put one together, but McAnally finally told Eggleston he was going to “bring me a car and give me a whirl.”

“I didn’t expect much out of it,” Eggleston said.

Not only did Eggleston lead the most laps of the NAPA Auto Parts/Toyota 150, he won the race.

In the winner’s circle, McAnally ran up and gave Eggleston “the biggest hug” he could remember.

“It proved to be a good decision,” Eggleston said. “It got my foot in the door with Bill.”

Not only did Eggleston run in two more K&N Series races to close out last year, he and McAnally worked out a deal a month before the start of this season for a full-time ride as Brandon McReynolds’ teammate.

And Eggleston has been able to have his wife, Katie, along at the races. She takes photos and writes press releases for McAnally’s public-relations team.

“Hey, I’ve been racing 21 years,” Eggleston said. “By no means do you ever expect (a full-time sponsorship). It has turned dreams into reality.”

Todd Milles: 253-597-8442

Todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

@ManyHatsMilles

NASCAR K&N PRO SERIES WEST

What: NAPA Auto Parts 150

When: Saturday.

Where: Evergreen Speedway, Monroe (0.646-mile, semi-banked oval track).

Schedule: Qualifying — 4:15 p.m. Start of race — 6 p.m.

2014 event winner: David Mayhew.

Skinny: Mayhew passed Dylan Lupton on the final lap to capture his seventh career Pro Series West, and will be in the field Saturday. He is vying to become the first driver to repeat since Brenden Gaughan (2000-01). … Points leader Noah Gragson, a 17-year-old from Las Vegas, is a rookie. He has a win in Tucson, and has five top-five finishes to hold a two-point lead over Chris Eggleston. … This is the ninth of 13 races on this season’s schedule.

Todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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