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Gilliland Gets Elusive Trucks Victory: Bashes Busch Bigly

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, October 26 2019
Todd Gilliland celebrates his victory in Saturday’s Truck Series race at Martinsville. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – For Todd Gilliland, his last 1 ½ years at Kyle Busch Motorsports has been excruciating as time-after-time victory has slipped through his fingers.

On Saturday at Martinsville Speedway in the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200, the frustration of a 45-race winless streak ended in dramatic fashion. With a truck that was overheating, Gilliland muscled the lead from title contender Ross Chastain with 11 laps remaining and held on for a narrow victory.

“I was actually nervous inside the truck,” the 19-year-old Gilliland said. “That’s something that’s never happened to me.  When you’re out there you just kind of do your deal. Under those cautions I just kept getting nervous. I mean the motor was like 280 degrees for the last half of the race. It was pushing water every five laps. I definitely thought I was just going to get to the lead and blow up, but everything worked out. There’s probably not any water left in it.”

 Gilliland’s victory came in a wild Martinsville truck race that had 12 caution flags for 80 of the 200 laps, a 15-minute 38-second red flag to clean the track after a nine-truck pileup, a dramatic shift in the point standings, and an overtime finish that wasn’t seen by the TV audience because FS1 lost the video.  

In the playoff standings, wrecks sidelined Tyler Ankrum, Austin Hill and Brett Moffitt, leaving them with 25th-, 26th– and 29th-place finishes, respectively. Matt Crafton’s crew changed the battery in his truck, but lost nine laps while the issue was resolved. He finished 23rd. Entering Martinsville, Chastain was below the cutline for Homestead, but his second-place finish left him third, 11 points ahead of Hill. Crafton dropped below the cutline to fifth, nine points behind Hill. Moffitt still leads and Stewart Friesen is second, while Ankrum is sixth. The race to determine the final four for Homestead is Nov. 8 at ISM Raceway (Phoenix).  

Gilliland, however, wasn’t concerned about the point standings, only about winning. 

“He has been in position to win quite a few races and it just hadn’t happened,” crew chief Wes Ward said. “So to finish it off today is amazing for Todd, his family. 

“KBM has worked really, really hard and hasn’t been in victory lane with, I guess you would call it, the kids. Todd and Harrison (Burton) have been under a lot scrutiny for that, but he (Gilliland) prevailed today.” 

 Team owner Busch has often criticized Gilliland’s performance publicly, so when the teenager finally won, his “heat of the moment” remarks were interesting.

“Kyle Busch, you can stay in your f—— motorhome,” Gilliland, who doesn’t know what 2020, holds for him, shouted over his team radio.

In Gilliland’s post-race interview, he admitted he probably wishes he hadn’t made the statement.

“It is what it is,” Gilliland continued. “He said some stuff about me, it is what it is.”

And for Gilliland, it is a victory.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, October 26 2019
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