"The Showdown is a big race for us. Obviously, we want to make it into the All-Star Race. But it's just as much a test for us, too, for the Coke 600. Making the All-Star Race would be great for us and great for our sponsor, Love's Travel Stops, but the Showdown is an important and valuable race even if we don't transfer over. The 600 is the longest race of our season, and we want to try to learn all we can for that."
JUST THE FACTS: Friday will mark Gilliland's ninth start in the Sprint Showdown ... His best finish in the Sprint All-Star Race qualifier is seventh (2008 and 2011) ... Love's Travel Stops returns as primary sponsor of the No. 38 Ford.