Monday, May 23

Gilliland Returns to COTA Looking For More Success

Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 Boot Barn Ford Mustang, won last year’s inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas. Now in his first season at the NASCAR Cup Series level, Gilliland returns hoping for a good run.

TODD GILLILAND, No. 38 Boot Barn Ford Mustang - YOU WON IN THE TRUCK SERIES AT COTA LAST YEAR. HOW MUCH DOES HAVING THAT EXPERIENCE HELP YOU HEADING INTO THIS WEEKEND? “I think it gives me a lot of confidence, especially since we talk about the Next Gen car being an equalizer, and then COTA also. Everyone has only been there one time and I didn’t realize talking to my teammate Michael McDowell that they only ran like one lap in the dry all weekend, which was for qualifying I believe. We were able to practice in the dry the day before and even that I feel like I have more laps in the dry than anyone there, so I’m just really looking forward to it. It’s a beautiful racetrack. I love road course racing in general. It’s a lot of fun. It seems like you’re always busy inside the car, so, overall, I’d say I have a lot of confidence going to COTA and I’m just super excited about it in general.”

HOW WOULD YOU EVALUATE YOUR SEASON SO FAR? “I think through the first five races I’m actually kind of happy with how it’s been going. It’s hard to set real expectations, but I’d say the first four races at least, obviously last week I feel it went really bad, probably as bad as possible for me, but before that I feel like we’ve been staying out of trouble and feel like I’ve been racing good cars, good drivers and I feel like gaining their respect for the most part. That’s hard to do over the course of 500 miles or 400 miles is be the one that doesn’t make the mistake, so I feel good about that. I think, overall, it’s been going really well.”

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES AT COTA AND WHAT MAKES FOR A GOOD ROAD COURSE RACER? “That’s a tough one. I feel like to be a good road course racer, I was joking with my team yesterday and said it’s pretty simple when you think about it, you just gas it as hard as you can and brake as late and as hard as you can into the next corner, so that’s what I’ve always just had a lot of fun with it – just drive as hard as you can every single lap. I think the Next Gen car is just gonna be challenging in general on the road course. Front Row Motorsports has never been to a test with it, so we’re just kind of putting our best guess out there, which I guess is kind of how it’s been all year going to the racetrack, but I think there’s just not much notes on the Next Gen car that’s gonna race on a road course, so we’re gonna be learning a lot every single lap, but I think the biggest thing that makes a road course racer good is just being really precise on where they hit every line every lap.”

WHICH ROAD COURSE SUITS YOUR STYLE THE MOST AND WHICH SUITS YOUR STYLE THE LEAST? “That’s a tough question. I think one that I’ve struggled with in the past is Sonoma, but I haven’t run there since the K&N West days in 2017, I think. I would like to think I’ve gotten a little bit better since then and hopefully I’ll not struggle as bad there, but I think I would just have to say COTA is probably my best one. I’ve ran one at Watkins Glen before in the trucks also, so I’m really looking forward to those two and Sonoma, I think I have a lot to learn and we’ll go to a couple new ones, so it’s gonna be a lot of fun. Hopefully, we can just get a good finish here and build some confidence going into those next ones.”

TEMPERATURES WILL BE IN THE MID-EIGHTIES THIS WEEKEND. WHAT IS THAT GOING TO BE LIKE FOR YOU GUYS IN THE CAR? “I feel like the first one, no matter how much you prepare or not, will always be pretty warm and catch you off guard a little bit. I’m just really looking forward to it. It’s still a relatively short race. This might be a good way to ease into it. I think it’s only like 215-ish miles, 212 miles, so, like I said, a short race and we’re definitely working a lot more than normal, I would say. It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna be the first one of the year and you just have to get through it. I think for some guys it might be tough and just in general the Next Gen car is hotter. We’ve heard that all throughout the off-season and everything. I’m lucky I got into it after they made all the changes, so I haven’t been too bad, but I’m sure this weekend it’s gonna be really hot in there. And then the obvious stuff like cool box and cool suit, you’ve got to make sure all that stuff is working right this weekend.”

BOOT BARN IS A NEW SPONSOR. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT RELATIONSHIP? “It is really cool and it was kind of funny, me and Zane (Smith) went to the Boot Barn here in Concord yesterday and picked out a whole outfit. We actually have a photo shoot today at the shop, but I got some boots. I got a Texas-sized belt buckle that has a longhorn on it, so I’m fully kitted out to go to Texas this weekend. It’s really cool to have a national brand like Boot Barn on board, just really to represent hard-working people. It’s really cool.”

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