By Front Row Motorsports
Gilliland's Dance Card Full for Daytona Return
Driver Brings Fast Ford Back to Site of Third-Place 500 Finish
David Gilliland should have no problem finding plenty of "dance partners" when he returns to the two-car draft at Daytona International Speedway this weekend. The driver of the No. 34 Taco Bell Ford gained plenty of respect among his competitors after his third-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500 and a ninth-place finish at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in April. After those two impressive superspeedway runs, Gilliland is ready for a third with Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at the storied 2.5-mile tri-oval in Daytona Beach, Fla.
NASCAR ranks Gilliland second in the category of "closers" at Daytona. The statistical category tracks drivers over a six-year period to determine who gains the most positions in the final 10 percent of laps at a track. Gilliland showcased that "closer" status in February's Daytona 500, surging from ninth to third in the race's final two laps.
This past weekend, he also showed off his road-racing prowess, earning his third top-15 finish of the season with a 12th-place run at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
Comments from Taco Bell driver David Gilliland on going to Daytona:
"Daytona we're excited about. Peter (crew chief Peter Sospenzo) keeps telling me the car is going to be better than it was for the 500. But we don't need it too much better, when you think about it. We had a great car in the 500, finished third, and could've kept passing cars if the finish line was another hundred yards down. Hopefully, it is a little bit better and we can go and work with some people.
"Running good and having good restrictor-plate finishes for the first two races has really helped us to have people actually coming to us and want to work with us throughout the race. That is really what you need to be able to get to the end and have a chance at possibly winning the race.
"We had a great run with Tony Stewart at Talladega, so we've talked to Tony a little bit about working together again. Also, obviously, our teammate Travis' car is very, very close to what our car is. Our two cars have worked well together in the past, too. We just have to see what happens. The key is you can't put all of your eggs in one basket and plan on just working with one person throughout the race because anything can happen, and then you can be kind of hung out to dry. So you have to try to keep your options open. Having good finishes in the past has helped us to be able to go in there with more options than we've had.
"We had a great run at Sonoma. I'm really proud of our Taco Bell team. We went really prepared and had a great car, and Peter and the guys did an awesome job all weekend. It was fun to race up front all day. We definitely would've had a top-10 or even top-five finish if we didn't have a couple issues toward the end of the race. We lost a lot of grip with our tires and had some trouble with second gear at the end. But I'm still really proud of our team. It was a good run for Front Row Motorsports."