Gilliland wins Martinsville Truck Race
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The Camping World Truck Series NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 had plenty of twists and turns at Martinsville Speedway Saturday afternoon as Todd Gilliland took the checkered flag for Kyle Busch Motorsports the first time in his Truck Series career.
Ross Chastain, who had been below the playoff cutline entering the weekend, finished second. Johnny Sauter was third, Grant Enfinger fourth, with Timmy Hill filling the top five.
Gilliland sniped at team owner Kyle Busch on the radio after taking the checkered flag, “You guys are the best! Kyle Busch, you can stay in your f***ing motor home!”
Busch has been publicly critical of the 19-year-old’s lack of wins in his second year in the Truck Series for KBM. Gilliland expanded on the comment in his post-race press conference. “It was just kind of heat of the moment really. Just a lot of emotions. Everyone has heard what he (Kyle Busch) said and obviously it’s true, we should’ve been running better. I’ve wanted to win for the last year and a half as well. I’m doing all I can and the guys at the shop are. It was pretty much just heat of the moment. Probably wish I didn’t say it now, but it is what it is. He said some stuff about me and it is what it is.”
When the dust cleared, Moffitt came away with a 10-point lead over Friesen. With one race to go before the championship race, Chastain and Hill sit third and fourth. Crafton is fifth, nine below the cutoff. Ankrum trails the playoff field in sixth, 15 points below the cut line.
Next week, the series is off as the Cup and Xfinity Series head to Texas, but returns at Phoenix for the race that will set the championship field. That race will take place on Friday, November 8 at 8:30 pm Eastern time.
TODD GILLILAND, No. 4 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 1st
How does it feel to finally get a win?
“It feels amazing. This place is really hard to win at. This Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra is not as pretty as we hoped it would be when we crossed the start-finish line, but man, it looks even better with water and Gatorade on it. Can’t thank JBL, Toyota, all the fans enough. Thank you guys for sitting around. I think that was a good finish. I don’t really know. Luckily we were out front. Just wish we could’ve been a little bit faster all weekend, but as a driver that’s what you always hope for and this thing was fast enough today.”
Talk about that exciting race and getting your first victory.
“Yeah, what a race. I’d say we didn’t have quite the speed just overall. To start the race, I was really tight. We made one pit stop and made it a lot, a lot better where I could contend for probably top five and then we were in a wreck, knocked the nose in, knocked the whole right-side in. We were going to stay out, but we decided that the tires were probably rubbed, so we came in and got four fresh tires and made even more adjustments. Man, I think we made our truck a ton better throughout the race, played the pace of the whole race really well. After we got that last set of tires, just picked people off kind of methodically. Forty laps is a long time here. Even at the end when we were up in like fourth or fifth. It was just about controlling it from there and just being smart.”
Can you expand on your radio comments telling Kyle Busch to stay in his motorhome and why you made them?
“It was just kind of heat of the moment really. Just a lot of emotions. Everyone has heard what he (Kyle Busch) said and obviously it’s true, we should’ve been running better. I’ve wanted to win for the last year and a half as well. I’m doing all I can and the guys at the shop are. It was pretty much just heat of the moment. Probably wish I didn’t say it now, but it is what it is. He said some stuff about me and it is what it is.”
How sweet was this victory? Were you almost wondering is it going to come before the end of the season?
“Absolutely. In every interview you say you’re not giving up and you have to keep fighting and go to the race track every week, but at some point, everyone just gets so beat down within the team. There’s nothing you can do. You have a couple bad races in a row and just attitude is down, morale, all that, that takes it to win another race. It’s really hard to get out of that slump. Even just to get this win and a little bit of momentum for the last two races is great.”
How much do you relish a moment like this knowing how hard it is to get a win?
“It means way more than it used to. Winning used to be a weekly deal. It just really makes me appreciate it more and more every single week that goes by that you don’t win. You know how hard you’re trying as well as everyone else. My whole team puts their blood, sweat and tears into this thing just as much as I do. That’s what frustrates you. You don’t really know what that next step is to get better. Once you put a whole race together, you kind of realize what goes on and attrition a little bit. Just pure speed is the other part of it. We were able to have a little bit of both.”
How did this win help your stock for next season?
“Winning always helps. Winning helps everything. I think it just helps my self-confidence a lot. Being younger, I know I think I can do it at a high level, but just week after week, like I said it becomes more of a daunting task every time you go to the race track. I think even just for the drivers I’m racing with, everyone in the garage, this is a big weekend for us all and hopefully it can open some new doors.”
Was there a concerted effort with your teammate, Harrison Burton, to put pressure on Ross Chastain at the end?
“It was both of us trying to win on our own. After the restart I think I was fourth. I got down in third, he (Harrison Burton) got down in second and he was beating the bumper off the 45 (Ross Chastain) and then I tried to move him and we both kind of got away from the 45 and then luckily there was another caution, we got caught back up. My spotter was telling me let him do the work, but I wanted to do the work. I wanted to get the lead myself. It was nice having Harrison up there, but at the same time, you know you kind of – you don’t feel bad, but that’s not a guy you want to move. He’s my friend and I know we’re pretty much going through the same thing. It’s just crazy to be in that position. When it all works out, two of us – all three of us were up there, so just really proud to be able to be the one that moved him out of the way.”
What is like to race some of those Playoff drivers when you’re also going after a win too?
“I don’t care. They’ve got more to lose than me. My spotter said third or 30th doesn’t matter to us, we want that checkered flag and the grandfather clock. This is so exciting for me. These guys, all my team, work so hard. It takes a lot to be able to win one of these races and we’ve seen that with me personally. Just for them to get a win and hopefully boost some morale in the whole shop a little bit is going to be really cool.”
WES WARD, No. 4 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Talk about your view from the pit box?
“Well, just wow right off the bat. Todd deserves every bit of it. KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports), they fought really hard for Todd and Todd’s fought really hard. It always seems like it’s something. He’s been in position to win quite a few races and it just hasn’t happened. To finish it off today is amazing for Todd, his family. KBM has worked really, really hard. Hadn’t been in victory lane with – I guess you’d call it the kids – Todd and Harrison (Burton) have been under a lot of scrutiny for that, but he prevailed today. Just what a race. We went through a little bit of everything. It was a true team sport today. The crew guys did an amazing job with everything that was wrong there at the end with about 30 (laps) to go, it was spewing water. I think the radiator duct was knocked out of it. I really didn’t think it was going to make it and it was going to be another one of those scenarios where it’s like well, almost Todd, but today, it happened and it’s pretty cool.”
How have you seen Todd grow over the last year that you’ve been working with him?
“I’ve only been his crew chief for half a dozen races or whatever, but I’ve been at KBM and watched him since day one at the very first race he ran. He’s come a long way. Just a couple races that would’ve probably made a huge difference by now if things would’ve happened different. He ran out of gas on the last lap at Texas. A lot of the stuff that happened, probably might not have happened, but it’s part of the business. It’s part of when you come to KBM, you are looked upon to be able to win and if it doesn’t happen, then it really starts crawling on you and that’s what’s happened to Todd. As far as a person, he’s amazing. He’s grown up a lot. I think he’s really going to do some special things in the future. That’s what we try to do at KBM is growing these drivers to go out and perform at that next level and I think he’s ready for that.”
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