May 6, 2014 – 13 year old Todd Gilliland recorded his first career late model victory in dominant fashion Friday night at Ace Speedway during the 40 lap limited late model feature. Easily referred to as the son of NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Gilliland, the 8thgrader is quickly paving his own path and making his own statement.
After setting the pace in both practice sessions, Todd Gilliland earned his first career pole award, placing his No. 98 Ford on top of the charts with a time of 15.810. Following the invert he started third and moved into second within the first ten laps. Gilliland would lead the final 24 circuits en route to his first win in his fourth start at Ace Speedway.
Todd Gilliland’s victory came in just his seventh career late model start. Since his 5thbirthday Gilliland has been racing in the quarter midget ranks, most recently becoming the 2013 National USAC Quarter Midget Champion in the World Formula Division.
In preparation for 2014, Todd Gilliland made three late model starts last season, recording a best finish of second in the limited late model portion of the prestigious Myrtle Beach 400. During the off season David Gilliland worked diligently putting the pieces together to get the DGR late model program on its feet.
Chris Lawson moved from Bassett Racing and now serves as Todd Gilliland’s crew chief. While partnered with Ronnie Bassett Jr., the duo scored 19 checkered flags in 44 starts, including Bassett’s first career late model victory. According to Lawson, hard work and chemistry are two big components to success.
“From the beginning everything has clicked. David and I have been on the same page since day one; it’s our responsibility to make sure everything is 100% when Todd hits the racetrack,” Lawson said. “David has enough knowledge to do this deal on his own, but fortunately for me his job doesn’t allow the time commitment.”
Not only has Todd Gilliland impressed race fans, he continues to exceed his crew chief’s expectations. “I thought the biggest transition when I came to DGR would be communicating with Todd. He is only 13, but we quickly crossed that barrier,” Lawson explained.
“He continues to impress me behind the wheel and how well he communicates what he needs. More importantly, he wants to learn. He takes it all in. He’s at the shop getting his hands dirty just about every day, every chance he gets. That speaks more to me than what he puts on the track week after week.”
In their 2014 debut at Ace Speedway Todd Gilliland scored a pair of runner up finishes in the late model and limited late model features. Two weeks later he finished third in the limited event. Gilliland’s run of podium finishes have him leading points in both classes at the Altamahaw, NC racetrack.
Gilliland’s 14th birthday is later this month, which makes him eligible for NASCAR sanctioned late model events. The David Gilliland Racing team is looking forward to touring different racetracks and also plans to make starts in the PASS and CRA touring series.