Everyone jokes that David Ragan owes David Gilliland a victory. After Gilliland pushed his teammate to Front Row Motorsports' first win at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for a 1-2 finish in May, it's only natural to rib Ragan about returning the favor this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. Gilliland is very much in favor of that role reversal.
In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' first return to restrictor plate racing since that Talladega race, Gilliland knows that Victory Lane is once again in sight for this young team. The No. 38 Long John Silver's crew is taking the same car that earned that runner-up finish at Talladega to Daytona Beach, Fla., for Saturday night's Coke Zero 400.
In 10 Cup career starts, Gilliland has a pole position, one top-five and two top-10 finishes at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
Comments from Long John Silver's team driver David Gilliland heading to Daytona:
"Our 38 team is excited to get to Daytona. We're taking the same car. Both of us are, the 34 and 38 teams. Daytona in July drives a little bit different, but overall I think we'll be close and we're definitely anxious to get back there. We obviously have confidence in those cars and what they can do, and I think you can probably see us working together again.
"It's just so much hotter in July than in February. The track just has so much less grip. It's actually more similar (for the two races) now than ever since they repaved it, but it still definitely goes through quite a big swing. But I have a lot of confidence in my crew chief, Frank Kerr, and my team, and also our Ford engines, so I think we can be just as competitive as we were at Talladega. Only this time maybe we'll flip-flop who finishes first and second.
"Obviously, superspeedway races are wild cards - you never know what's going to happen. You can have the fastest car out there and get caught up in someone else's wreck on Lap 1. All three Front Row cars got wiped out in one wreck in the Daytona 500 this year through no fault of our own. So, you could say that plate racing is certainly not 'fair.' There's some strategy involved, but there's also some luck. We had both on our side in Talladega and we'll hope for it again this weekend."