David Gilliland, driver of the No. 34 Taco Bell Ford Fusion, got the 2011 season off to a flying start with a third-place finish in the Daytona 500. Since then, however, he has been beset by a series of accidents, including last weekend at Martinsville. He spoke about turning things around Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
DAVID GILLILAND – No. 34 Taco Bell Ford Fusion -- YOU HAVE A NEW SPONSOR THIS WEEK AT TEXAS. “We’re excited that we’ve got Gander Mountain on our Ford Fusion this week at Texas. It’s the first of possibly more races, so it’s an important race for us. I can’t think of any better track than to have them on board at Texas because that’s one of my favorite race tracks. I’ve been in Gander Mountain a lot more lately because I’m moving from three-quarters of an acre to 70 acres, so I’ve been collecting a few toys. It’s a lot of fun and a great place, so I’m excited to have them on board. I feel like we’ve got a great chance at running really well at Texas and, hopefully, continue building our program.”
YOU FINISHED THIRD IN THE DAYTONA 500, BUT IT’S BEEN ROUGH GOING SINCE THEN. YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A TURNAROUND THIS WEEK, RIGHT? “Yeah, absolutely. I think we’ve had four tire failures in three races and that will beat you down in a hurry, so we’re definitely looking to turn things around and get it headed back on an upward swing. I feel like there’s no better place to do it than Texas.”
WE’VE HEARD YOU TALK ABOUT THE UPGRADE IN EQUIPMENT THIS YEAR, SO WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN TO GET CONSISTENTLY GOOD RESULTS? “We just need to make sure we have everything in order. We definitely have better cars. We definitely have better motors. We haven’t had a race engineer all year. We’ve hired Derrick Finley to come on board as our competition director and he’s been filling in as a race engineer throughout the weekend, but it still takes away from our total program. We’re still a month away from having the positions filled that it takes to be able to come out and run as competitively as we’d like each and every week. It’s tough. Good people in this sport just aren’t walking around the garage area looking for jobs, so you want to find the right people. You don’t want to just hire anybody, so I feel like we’ve got some good candidates to come on board and help take our team to the next level.”
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE ON A TEAM THAT IS TRYING TO GET TO THE LEVEL OF A ROUSH FENWAY OR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? “We have great people that have come from those organizations that had the resources, so now we’re having to try and take a different approach on how we race at times. Sometimes we don’t have the budget to buy all of the tires we need or have to go and run scuffed tires at times, instead of putting stickers on. It’s just kind of a different way of thinking and a different strategy, but Bob (Jenkins) has taken 10 steps forward this year and I feel like we’ve got a couple key people in place. You hear all the time that this sport has a lot to do with personality and people and chemistry, and I feel like once we get the last couple pieces of that into our puzzle, we’ll be right on track of where we want to be.”
I think everybody is doing a good job and everybody has great attitudes.
RACES LIKE DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA ARE OPPORTUNITIES FOR TEAMS LIKE FRONT ROW TO BE COMPETITIVE AND WIN. YOU VERY EASILY COULD HAVE WON THE DAYTONA 500, BUT WHAT IS IT LIKE TO COME TO A LOT OF TRACKS WHEN WINNING OR RUNNING IN THE TOP FIVE IS A LONGSHOT? “It’s tough. As a competitor, it’s hard to come to a race track thinking like that. There are cars in this garage area that hold twice as much lead as our cars hold. At Daytona, it’s not really that big a deal. At Texas, it’s not a huge deal, but at Martinsville it’s everything. It’s hard to not get frustrated, but we just have to stay focused on what we’re doing and concentrate on opportunities like this week with Gander Mountain on board. We have some road courses coming up that we run well on, plus we’re gonna go test a couple road courses. We’re working on our speedway program and we have to just focus on those areas where we obviously feel we can go to the track and have a legitimate chance at having great finishes. Then we have to step back and still work on trying to make our short track and other areas better, but concentrate on the areas where we have the best chance.”
IS IT A LOT LIKE THOSE WEEKEND RACERS AT LOCAL TRACKS AROUND THE COUNTRY WHERE YOU TRY TO MAKE THE MOST WITH WHAT YOU HAVE? “Exactly, and that’s what we’re doing. I think everybody is doing a good job and everybody has great attitudes. You always want it to happen as fast as it can, but sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. I do feel that we’re heading in the right direction and that’s a positive I bring to the race track each and every week.”
-source: ford racing