By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – Despite a wreck in Stage 2 and issues in practice, Todd Gilliland rebounded to finish in the top-five at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The North Carolina Education Lottery 200 featured the first practice on a 1.5-mile track for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series since Las Vegas Motor Speedway in February 2020. Gilliland’s No. 38 The Pete Store Ford F-150 was 12th fastest despite alternator and starter issues.
Those issues were remedied in time for the 200-mile race at Charlotte. Until the second Stage, Gilliland appeared to be a contender to win for the second week in a row. On a late restart in Stage 2, the Sherrills Ford, N.C. native pushed defending Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed. The attempt to help backfired as Creed spun the tires. By the time the duo got to turn three, Gilliland carried too much speed and broke loose.
The Front Row Motorsports truck slapped Creed’s No. 2 Liftkitsforless.com Chevrolet Silverado. The impact knocked the toe out of Gilliland’s Ford. Creed, meanwhile, spun into traffic and collected his GMS Racing teammate Chase Purdy.
In the final Stage, Gilliland’s truck didn’t have the same speed it once had. With the toe knocked out, the 21-year-old struggled to move forward. A late race caution left him as just one of 12 trucks on the lead lap. Gilliland climbed up to fifth when the checkered flag waved.
“We definitely have to be happy with the results there,” admitted Gilliland. “Just bad decision making on my part on that restart. Got behind and tried to push the No. 2 (Creed) and got him sideways. Then he opened up the middle. In the Truck Series here, if you don’t go for the hole, you’re going to be the hole. It’s just hard, those decisions happen so fast.
“Looking back, it wasn’t the right one. By the time we got to turn three, I was carrying too much speed, got on the brakes a little bit, and it laid on the splitter and got tight. It just came around on me at that point. Overall, I’m really happy, proud of the truck. Bad day in practice, had a lot of issue. We made great changes between practice and the race. I feel like we were a top-two, top-three truck.
“It’s all you can ask for; I’ve been consistent lately. Proud of everyone at Front Row for building great trucks that allow me to be confident coming to the racetrack.”
Before the duo wrecked in Stage 2, Creed and Gilliland swept the first two finishing positions of the first Stage. With qualifying rained out, the Front Row Motorsports driver started on the pole. He slipped behind Creed and finished the Stage in second, gaining nine additional points.
The fifth-place finish is Gilliland’s fourth top-five this season and the 20th of his Truck Series career. The third-generation driver has finished in the top-five in 24.7% of the races he started and, in the top-10 in 51.9% of his starts.
Gilliland is locked into the playoffs via his win at Circuit of the Americas last week. He is still fifth in the points standings, 116 behind leader, and race winner, John Hunter Nemechek.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by Jim Fluharty / Harold Hinson Photography