Phoenix and Richmond are a long ways apart, but David Gilliland and his No .38 team see similarities in their approach to the tracks. That's why the driver of the Long John Silver's Ford carries confidence to Richmond (Va.) International Raceway this week, after having a fast car at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway in February.
The team will apply to their Richmond car a set-up similar to the one that brought them good speed at Phoenix. In the Feb. 3 event, Gilliland was looking at a potential top-20 finish when his No. 38 blew a tire and hit the wall late in the race.
Saturday night's Toyota Owners 400 will be Gilliland's 14th Cup career start at Richmond, with a top finish of 18th (2008).
Comments from Long John Silver's team driver David Gilliland heading to Richmond:
"Short-track racing is a lot of fun for me. It's what I grew up doing. Richmond's a great racetrack - it's a racy racetrack where you can race all around. The groove widens up a lot there during the race, so it's awesome. We ran really well at Phoenix earlier this year, we had a fast car, so we're going into Richmond with a lot of confidence. We can run a lot of stuff that you run at Phoenix at Richmond. And it was the best we've run at Phoenix in years, until we blew a right front tire and that ruined our day. So we feel very good about our package going into Richmond.
"Now, with the new cars, you can be a lot more aggressive at these short tracks. To me, you can drive in a lot harder. I think with the rear-end housing and the camber, you can really slide and abuse the rear tires a lot more than you could before. That edge of being 'loose in' and maybe wrecking, or getting sideways to a point and then losing it, that edge has been pushed way out. That makes them more fun to drive, obviously, because you can drive them harder and I think that has contributed to a lot better racing here lately.
"Our team had a great run going last week at Kansas. We were fast in practice and had good speed in the race, too. If we hadn't picked up some damage from the cars wrecking in front of us, I think we could've had a top-15 finish. But Frank (Kerr) and the guys got us patched up and going again quickly and we came away with a top-25. I think we'll be that much better when we go back there in the fall."