By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Kyle Busch Motorsports will continue to groom young talent as they add Todd Gilliland to the Rookie of the Year battle in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Gilliland, who will turn 18 on May 15, will pilot the No. 4 Toyota Tundra in 19 of the 23 events.
Gilliland, who made his Truck Series debut last year, has two top-fives and three top-10s in six starts. He also won back-to-back NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Championships in 2016 and 2017, as well as finishing runner-up to his KBM teammate Harrison Burton in the 2017 East Series standings.
“With back-to-back championships in the K&N West Series the last two seasons and a runner-up finish in the East Series this year, Todd’s proven that he knows how to win races and compete for championships,” Kyle Busch said. “He showed improvement over the course of his six-race schedule last year and after he turns 18 in May and is able to get behind the wheel on a regular basis, we expect that he will continue to improve, start competing for wins and be a strong contender for the Truck Series Rookie of the Year.”
In route to his two K&N West Championships, Gilliland earned 13 wins, 23 top-fives, 27 top-10s, and a staggering 13 pole positions. Meanwhile in the East Series, he earned five victories, 13 top-fives, 18 top-10s, and two pole positions. Gilliland also has two ARCA Racing Series starts including a victory in his debut at Toledo Speedway, where he became the youngest winner in ARCA history at the time, and two top-10 finishes.
“I’m super excited be continuing my development within the Toyota Racing family and look forward to being behind the wheel of KBM’s No. 4 Tundra this season — especially after my 18th birthday when I can run all of the races,” Gilliland said. “I’ll still be at the track for the early races when I don’t get to compete so that I can learn as much as I can from being around the guys on the team and watching my Dad and Kyle before my first 1.5-mile race at Charlotte.”
Plans for the No. 4 prior to Todd Gilliland’s debut at Martinsville Speedway, and full-eligibility following Kansas Speedway are already in place. David Gilliland, Todd’s father, will drive the No. 4 in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Meanwhile team owner Busch will drive at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Kansas. The driver for Las Vegas Motor Speedway will be announced later.
While David prepares to return to the driver’s seat at Daytona, Todd will prep for his Rookie of the Year battle. Todd joins Dalton Sargeant and Justin Fontaine in the battle for Rookie honors.
Sponsorship and crew chief announcements will come later. It is also unclear if Gilliland will receive a waiver from NASCAR to be eligible to earn a spot in the Playoffs. Justin Haley, who was in a similar situation last season, but ultimately fell short of making the Playoffs.