David Gilliland Balancing Driving & Ownership in 2018 Speedweeks

(Photo: Rusty Jarrett/NKP)

By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer

David Gilliland may have been a surprise name to pop up on the Camping World Truck Series entry list for 2018’s edition of Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.

But it didn’t end there, as the 41-year-old will also compete in the 60th Daytona 500 come Sunday afternoon for Ricky Benton Racing’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut.

With the pressure off for Thursday night’s Can-Am Duels — 40 entries for 40 starting spots — Gilliland’s main objective, instead, comes in multiple forms on the Truck Series side.

For the first time since 2015, Gilliland finds himself behind the wheel of a truck after son Todd, who will run 19 of 23 races in the 2018 campaign with Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Toyota, was unable to run the season opener due to his age of 17.

For father David, the NASCAR veteran see’s it as a special opportunity to not only get back on the track but to get Todd’s 2018 program off the ground running.

“It’s a heck of an opportunity to come out here and run,” Gilliland told Kickin’ The Tires. “This was a Pedigree race, and they’ve been a sponsor of mine from a long time ago. With Todd not old enough to run this, it opened the door for me to come and run.”

Making his first NASCAR start since 2016, Gilliland never had thoughts of hanging the helmet up for good despite the time away.

“I never committed completely one way or another,” he said of his thoughts on retirement. “This deal came up and it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. To drive the truck, the No. 4 that my son is going to drive, it’s super special to me and something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.

“It’s been a lot of fun so far. Kyle Busch has an incredible team over here and does a good job. To drive a fast Toyota is a dream come true.”

Indeed, Gilliland is taking notes in terms of team sustainability and performance. More so in 2018, as Gilliland’s race team of David Gilliland Racing merged with Crosley Brands to compete in Trucks, K&N East, ARCA and super late models in 2018. The team is making their Truck Series debut Friday night with new partner/driver Bo LeMastus.

This move to Trucks was aided when the series adapted the Ilmor motor package for 2018. Good news for Gilliland’s building driver development organization.

“We have a positive driver development program and we want to be able to work with these young kids, just like we did with Todd,” he said, “to get them ready to that next opportunity that’s coming their way. I enjoy that just as much as I do driving.”

And as the XFINITY Series winner hopes to grow his organization to the level of KBM someday, he will use the Daytona experience to gain a perspective for his growing team.

“[KBM] is a championship organization,” he said. “At any level, you have to have all your stuff together and you have to be organized. They’re definitely that. Starting our own DGR-Crosley Truck team, there is a lot we’re learning over here that we can apply from management and the way they run this team. It’s second to none.”

Though anything helps, DGR-Crosley is already off to a flying start after David’s son Todd scored a thrilling K&N East win at New Smyrna Speedway Sunday night.

“It’s been a crazy week down here,” he said. “With our new partnership with Bo LeMastus, it’s our first win under our new banner, and to get it that quick says a lot. We ran the New Smyrna K&N race, the ARCA race here with our team, then the Cup race and the Truck race. It’s been busy but it’s all a balance. It’s just a lot of notes you have to write down.”

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