By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Entering its second full season in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, David Gilliland Racing – CROSLEY Group has embraced the role of driver development. In 2018, the team had 11 drivers, including co-owners Gilliland and Bo LeMastus, behind the wheel of its’ Toyota Tundras.
DGR – CROSLEY has fielded teams from the late model ranks to the Truck Series. In 2019, the team is expanding. In the Truck Series, Anthony Alfredo and Natalie Decker, will split time in one truck, while 2018 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Champion Tyler Ankrum will compete full-time once reaching the age of 18. NHRA Pro Stock Champion Tanner Gray will join the teams’ K&N operation.
“We’re growing,” Gilliland said. “We’re going to have Late Model teams, K&N, ARCA, and Trucks, with multiple of each. It’s going to be a busy year for us. We’re excited and right now we’re looking forward to it. Can’t wait to get going.”
In 2018, DGR – CROSLEY helped develop Ankrum, Kyle Benjamin, Tyler Dippel, Riley Herbst, Matt Mills, Zane Smith, and Chris Windom. Benjamin earned top-five finishes in both of his races, including the teams’ best Truck Series finish, second at Martinsville Speedway. Ankrum and Smith each earned one top-10 finish in DGR’s trucks.
Gilliland stated that developing young talent is the best part of the team.
“It feels really good. I get a lot of enjoyment out of that. Our program is truly a driver development program. I feel like we can really help some young kids that come to our program, get them up to speed a little bit quicker. I teach them some of the stuff that I had to learn the hard way. It’s something that we’ve been able to teach Todd over the years. Just going to keep that going and help these kids get the opportunity they deserve.”
Gilliland drove three races for the team he co-owns in 2018. Twice he finished fourth (Dover International Speedway and Iowa Speedway). While the team will primarily develop young talent, Gilliland will likely be behind the wheel for a handful of races in 2019.
“I think I’m going to run a race or two. We’ll see. This year I got to run a little bit more. I got to run five or six races, and it’ll probably be around that number. I really enjoy the Truck Series, watching my son Todd race in it, owning trucks that race in it, and being able to drive too. That part has been great.”