By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
After missing several races last season due to age restrictions, Todd Gilliland will run the full 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series schedule.
In total, Gilliland missed four races in 2018. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver still earned four top-five and nine top-10 finishes, as well as one pole position. His best finish, second, came at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Although he missed the Playoffs, Gilliland managed to finish 10th in the championship standings and just 21 points shy of a Rookie of the Year title.
“Last year we got a really good taste of it, running the last seven eighths of the season,” Gilliland said. “It’s going to be a little bit different starting out the season and having the championship on your mind, having to be smart. It’s going to be a little bit different, nonetheless we’re still going for wins. That’s the important thing.”
In 2019, Gilliland will be joined by his 2018 teammate Harrison Burton for a full season at KBM. The 18-year-old duo likely will make up the youngest full-time driver line-up on the Truck Series grid in 2019.
Both drivers have competed with each other regularly prior to 2018. In 2017, Burton and Gilliland battled for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Championship, finished first and second in the championship, respectively. The 2017 title came down to the final race at Dover International Speedway, a cut tire preventing Gilliland from winning both the East and West titles in the same season.
Gilliland has high expectations for 2019, believing that his previous battles with Burton will make a difference.
“I expect us to go and win just like KBM does every year,” he said. “It’s all about the great trucks that they give us. I feel like Harrison (Burton) and I will work well together. It’s kind of different, we raced really hard in the K&N Series two years ago for the Championship, and now we’re teammates. I think that gives me more trust in him. He’s a great driver and we can lean on each other a lot.”
Gilliland also joked that he and Burton may have a friendly rivalry while also being teammates.
“Absolutely. I think we have all along. That’s what makes us good, we want to beat each other. We help each other until the race, and then we both go out there to win.”