Ford California Testing 2008-01-31 David Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 Yates Racing Ford Fusion, is back in his home state of California for the first of a two-day NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at California Speedway. Gilliland held a ...
Ford California Testing
David Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 Yates Racing Ford Fusion, is back in his home state of California for the first of a two-day NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at California Speedway. Gilliland held a Q&A session at the track to talk about a variety of issues.
HOW HAS YOUR FIRST DAY OF TESTING GONE SO FAR? "It's been real good. We unloaded and we definitely weren't where we needed to be, but we made some good changes and I feel like here at the end of practice we're real close to where we need to be. I'm really, really happy with the progress that we've made. I think that we had a great test at Vegas and I'm really, really excited about my opportunity this year with Yates Racing. I feel really good about our chances to be able to be much more competitive than we were last year and I'm real excited about that."
HOW DEEP IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN YATES RACING AND ROUSH FENWAY? "I'm not really 100 percent sure on that, to be honest with you. I know that we're purchasing our cars from them, which has been a great improvement for Yates Racing and really helped our team, I feel like. We've been to Daytona and Vegas so far testing and I feel like we've had two very good tests. The cars drove very, very well and I think we're getting some engineering help from them, which was something that was basically very, very, very minimal with Robert Yates Racing last year. I tell people, it's funny, when you're in a situation -- my opportunity last year was better than anything I ever had and you always try and do the best you can do with what you have, but being on the other side now and getting the engineering support that we're getting, and the help, it really makes you realize what you were up against. I think it's really gonna help our program throughout the year. Actually, we were kind of hit and miss. We'd go to some tracks and we were good and we'd go to some tracks and we were terrible. I think with the engineering support and the new cars that we're getting, I really feel like it's gonna help us be a contender week-in and week-out, and it's worked out great so far."
IS IT BETTER TO GET INTO THIS SPORT THE WAY YOU DID IT OR A FORMAL DEVELOPMENTAL PROGRAM? "I don't know. Like you said, we did it the hard way, I guess. I never had money behind me to be able to go and put myself in an opportunity. I feel like I could have done it years ago. I always felt like all I needed was an opportunity, but I think it can go both ways. I talked to Jack Roush probably six years ago and asked him, 'What do I need to do?' And he said, 'Go out and race as much as you can and win races. Get used to racing.' I don't know. Like you said, I guess the old-fashioned way. We worked our way up throughout the NASCAR plan that they've laid out with late models and grand national cars in Busch and then Cup. I think both ways can work. The younger you are, the more patient the teams are going to have to be when you get there."
FOLLOW UP RESPONSE. "I don't know, you can stumble on that one guy that goes out there and hit a home run with him. There have been teams that have done that. That's why it's going in that direction."
IS THERE SPONSORSHIP IN THE AIR? "They've had some great leads since Yates Racing got started and they're continuing to work on those. We've been close for a while and hopefully we can get something shored up here shortly. I feel good about the leads that they have and feel great about the marketing team that's working on it for us, so I'm confident that they'll definitely get something."
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE WITH THE CAR ON THIS TRACK LAST YEAR AND THIS NEW CAR? "We've been fighting kind of tight and that's kind of what I've heard throughout the garage area, and I think that's just a characteristic of this car. I think you're gonna see that at every track we go to, just a little bit tight. Like at Vegas, by the end of the test the cars were driving very, very similar to the old-style cars. Once people got time to work through them and had two days of working on it, and I think the speeds reflected that also."
WORST-CASE SCENARIO. WHAT WILL THE TEAM DO IF NO SPONSOR IS FOUND? "I've asked that question. I ask it every week, but they've told us we're gonna race and we've just got to get out and perform. We've got these first five races to get out and do the best we can, and I feel really good about our chances. Like I said, our testing has gone well. We do have some great leads and we're very close on some stuff, but as far as they've told me, we're racing both cars all year."
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED MOST FROM YOUR SEASONS IN CUP? "The biggest thing at the Cup level is that the races are sometimes three times longer than anything I've done, so you just learn when you're racing when to take chances and push the envelope. You just learn that sometimes taking that chance isn't worth it. Patience is the biggest thing I've learned and feel like that's gonna help me the best this year."
DO YOU FEEL ANY DESPERATION TO SUCCEED AND DO WELL THIS YEAR? "Definitely -- every year. This sport is very difficult. There are a lot of people waiting in line to get here and I think at this level you have to perform. This year is definitely probably the most pivotal year of my career. I'm not the 18-year-old guy here anymore and I just better get it done, so I feel good. Like I said earlier, with the engineering support we have and the cars and the chassis we've been able to get, I think the performance side of it will come. I feel very confident in that this year."
LAST YEAR BOTH YATES CARS WERE ON THE FRONT ROW OF THE 500, BUT THE FORDS HAVEN'T SHOWN AS STRONG IN TESTING. WHY? "I don't think anybody shows all their cards in testing. Like you said, the Fords were kind of in a group and we feel real good about the stuff and what we're gonna be able to take back to the race. The Toyotas were definitely strong. I know Doug and our engine shop have been extra-hard. I think they've got the upper-hand on horsepower right now, but Doug and all the guys are working extra-hard and we feel really good about what we're gonna be able to bring back. Like I said, it goes both ways. I don't think everybody shows everything in testing."
WILL THIS NEW CAR MAKE IT EASIER TO GO FROM A TRACK LIKE CALIFORNIA TO MICHIGAN? "I think it's gonna help more with the car of tomorrow than if we would have tested here with the cars we had last year. I think the car of tomorrow is new to everybody on these type of tracks and you get all the information you can gather from a place like this. Michigan is close enough to where you will learn stuff here that you can transfer over to Michigan and with this car, it just makes it even that much more important to gather that information just because it is so new to everybody."
-credit: ford racing