The Rally RAV4 team of Ryan Millen and Rhianon Gelsomino closed out the American Rally Association (ARA) season with a victory to record a 2WD season sweep on Saturday, while Toyota’s Todd Gilliland won in NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (NKNPSW) racing Sunday to continue a tight championship battle.
Millen and Gelsomino won the Ojibwe Forests Rally in Minnesota over the weekend to give the team a sweep of the ARA’s 2WD class in the series’ inaugural season with six victories in six events.
Millen and Gelsomino finished the two-day event in the Detroit Lakes region fourth overall Saturday. In class, the duo held a lead of more than seven minutes over the next closest competitor.
The Toyota duo previously secured the 2WD class championship when they claimed their fifth 2WD win of the year in July’s New England Rally. In addition to winning the 2WD class championship, the team finished the season fourth in the ARA’s overall point standings.
With the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) in an off-weekend, Camry driver Matt Tifft finished third with the top Toyota in Sunday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) race at Road America.
Tifft’s team used strategy to take first on lap 38 and was leading down the stretch when eventual-winner Jeremy Clements initiated contact that caused the pair to spin with only two laps to go, resulting in Tifft finishing third. Tifft led six laps (of 45) en route to his second third-place result in the last three races – again tying his career-best finish.
Tifft’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, James Davison, led a race-high 11 laps and won the race’s first stage before an accident late in Stage 2 relegated him to a 37th-place finish.
In NKNPSW action, Toyota drivers battled for the win as Gilliland defeated his Bill McAnally Racing teammate and fellow championship hopeful Chris Eggleston by just 0.155 seconds at Oregon’s Douglas County Speedway on Sunday.
The pair traded the lead nine times in the 150-lap race, including four changes in the final 25 laps. With his win, Gilliland now has six triumphs on the year and pushed his championship points lead to just five marks over Eggleston, who has four triumphs.
The MENCS and NXS next compete at South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 2-3 while the NCWTS will head north to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park on Sunday, Sept. 3.
The NKNPSW is off until late September, but Gilliland will race in this weekend’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event at Virginia’s Langley Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 2, as he continues to pursue the championship in both NASCAR regional series. Gilliland sits second in the East Series standings, where he trails fellow Toyota driver Harrison Burton by four points.
Eric Barron earned number one qualifier honors in his Toyota Tundra PRO 4 for both Saturday and Sunday's Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series races at the Wild West Motorsports Park in Nevada, but an accident and mechanical issues forced Barron into finishes of eighth and ninth, respectively.
In Pro Lite Unlimited racing, 16-year-old Hailie Deegan, the daughter of famed motorcycle and off-road racer Brian Deegan, claimed a best finish of sixth in the two races over the weekend at the Sparks, Nevada facility.
The series will race in San Bernardino, California at Glen Helen Raceway on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15-16, for Round 11 and 12.
Lisa Hughes Kennedy