By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
A close call on pit entrance and a late-race caution led Todd Gilliland to a top-five finish at Dover International Speedway.
In the middle of a lengthy green flag run during the KDI Office Technology 200, several drivers ducked onto pit road. As more of the field pitted, Gilliland assumed the lead momentarily. When the Front Row Motorsports driver did slow to pit, near disaster took place.
As Gilliland slowed, his No. 38 The Pete Store Ford F-150 broke loose. For a moment, it looked like the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series would spin onto pit road. However, Gilliland regained control and managed to slow to pit road speed in time.
After rejoining the race, Gilliland found himself hovering around sixth on track. It appeared that he would settle in for a top-10 until the caution waved with eight laps to go.
On the restart, Gilliland surged forward. He made quick work of fellow Ford Performance drivers Ben Rhodes and Johnny Sauter. However, there was not enough time to challenge Zane Smith for the victory. When the checkered flag waved, Gilliland had moved to fourth.
“The last two runs were much better than how I started,” Gilliland told Fox Sports 1. “Just really cool to have The Pete Store on our truck and give them a top-five finish. We’re right on the (playoff) bubble and we need to have these good days. The other guys running are stepping up too. We just have to maximize every day and I’m just proud of the Front Row Motorsports team around me.”
Using the new starting lineup format, determined by fastest lap in last week’s race, last week’s finishing position, and position in owner’s points, Gilliland started 17th. Two quick cautions helped the 20-year-old climb up to finish the first stage in 10th.
The second stage went caution free until the end. Chandler Smith broke loose, collecting Sheldon Creed and Rhodes. Gilliland was still running 10th when the incident took place and moved up to seventh as the stage ended under caution.
The fourth-place finish is the fourth top-five finish for Gilliland this season. It is also the 16th top-five finish in Gilliland’s Truck Series career. The fourth-place was also the best finish for the Sherrills Ford, N.C. native at Dover. Gilliland made his Truck Series debut at ‘The Monster Mile’ in 2017.
Gilliland remains 10th in the points standings, on the cutline for the playoffs. His gap widened over Derek Kraus, now four points following Dover. Gilliland is 137-points behind leader Austin Hill.
Next for the Truck Series, and the final race of the Triple Truck Challenge, is the World Wide Technology Raceway 200 presented by CK Power in Gateway. It will also be Gilliland’s first experience with ‘alternative pitting,’ which was first used in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Road America.
Photo by NKP / NKP Photo