There might not be many places to go fishing in Arizona, but David Gilliland will still be "speaking fish" for this weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. The Long John Silver's paint scheme will make its 2013 debut on Gilliland's No. 38 Ford Fusion for Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at the one-mile oval in the desert.
The Riverside, Calif., native is right at home in Phoenix, a track where he raced frequently - and won - early in his career in the Pro Series West. In his Sprint Cup career, Gilliland has one top-15 and two top-20 finishes at the Avondale, Ariz., oval. His best finish was 15th in 2008.
Comments from Long John Silver's team driver David Gilliland heading to Phoenix:
"I love racing out west. It just feels like home. I grew up in racing traveling around the West Coast, first as a kid with my dad when he raced, then as his crew chief and then when I started driving myself. So we see a lot of friends and family whenever we go to Phoenix and always enjoy it.
"Phoenix is a challenging track. You've really got to have your car handling well or you're going to get beat in the corners. But Front Row Motorsports has put a lot of work into our cars this winter so I think we can bring a fast Long John Silver's Ford to the track this week. Coming into the season, everybody focuses on Daytona and having a fast car for the 500, but you've got to invest just as much time and work into the cars you'll race in Weeks 2 and 3 and 4. After Daytona, we don't get to take a break and say, 'OK, let's try to get ready for Phoenix now.' There's no breather. But we're ready and I'm looking forward to it.
"We've always run well on the superspeedways, short tracks and road courses. So I think we're in good shape for places like Phoenix and Bristol. It's the mile-and-a-halfs that we're always working to get better at. So Las Vegas is going to be a good measurement of where we stand for 2013."