By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas — From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows for pole sitter Todd Gilliland after crashing out in Friday’s SpeedyCash.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Throughout the race, it appeared that Gilliland’s first race with his new crew chief, Wes Ward, was going to be an instant success and it showed when he was out in front for 31 of 167 laps.
That all came in a crashing halt during late restart in Stage 2 when he lost control of his No. 4 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra and backed into the Turn 1 wall, bringing out the eighth caution of the night.
Gilliland got his truck going but it ultimately stop rolling and his promising night was over, taking a 27th place finish after completing 69 laps.
“It sucks. I hate it. Especially because my Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra was so fast tonight,” Gilliland on his first DNF since the season opener at Daytona. “Got the pole and just wish we could have finished that one off, gave the guys another chance or two to work on it. I think we would have been right there with them.”
Once checked and released, Gilliland added that he was already battling a loose truck, but once he got underneath eventual stage winner Ben Rhodes, he couldn’t control it much longer.
“Ben was just coming around me a little bit and it happens, you know? I was a little bit loose on entry before that,” said Gilliland. “Tried to hold it wide open through (Turns) 1 and 2 like you should be able to and just couldn’t that time.
“I felt like my restarts were good all night. I was hoping to be ahead of him. In the Trucks, if you’re a nose ahead, you’re in a good position on the bottom. If you’re a nose behind, you’re in a bad position. I’ve never done that. I’ve never gotten sucked around and loose on the bottom.”
The accident couldn’t have come at an absolute worst time as he entered Texas eighth in points, which is the final spot for a driver to make the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoffs. Now out of the cutoff line, Gilliand commented that a DNF is the last thing anyone needs in their season resume and hopes he can bounce back in the upcoming races.
“There’s definitely worse times, but you know, this definitely isn’t a good time. There’s no point throughout the season that you can have a DNF and really recover how you need to. We’re just going to go out the next couple of weeks, they’re really important. Just refocus every time. There’s still tons of positives to take out of it this weekend. It went really well, except for this.”
Gilliland will now head to Iowa Speedway for next Saturday’s Iowa 200. In his only start, Gilliland crashed out and finished 29th.