No. 34 Team Takes Risks to Reap Rewards
Gilliland and Sospenzo Get Ahead with Off-Sequence Strategy
Statesville, N.C. (September 20, 2011) - Strategy and teamwork are two things that David Gilliland is counting on going to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend.
At a track that, admittedly, is not his favorite, Gilliland knows that taking chances can pay off with big rewards at the mile-long oval. No. 34 team crew chief Peter Sospenzo is not afraid to pit off-sequence if it will help his driver get ahead. Such strategy paid off in the July race at Loudon when Gilliland was able to cross the finish line in the 25th position as others ran out of gas in the final laps.
Working with teammate J.J. Yeley and the No. 38 team will also help in preparing for Sunday's Sylvania 300. Yeley earned a 23rd-place finish at the July Loudon race and has previous top-five and top-10 finishes at the track that is, statistically, his best venue.
Gilliland has nine Sprint Cup starts at the New Hampshire track. His 25th-place finish in July is his career best.
Comments from David Gilliland, driver of the No. 34 Ford Fusion, going into Loudon:
"We know we're not going to charge right up to the front at a track like Loudon. But over the course of the race, we can make some moves to help us gain track position. Running where we usually run on the racetrack allows us to have different strategies, whether it be taking two tires instead of four, making some fuel mileage calls or coming in and topping off at other times when guys don't want to come in and give up track position. Things like that we are able to do and sometimes it pays off for us, for sure. Last time at Loudon, as other cars were dropping like flies at the end of the race, we still had plenty of gas in the tank because we were on a different fuel strategy and that obviously paid off.
"Peter's (crew chief Peter Sospenzo) got a lot of experience in the Cup series. He's been calling races for a long time, worked for some pretty good teams, and he's seen just about everything. So when he says 'let's try something,' I say, 'OK, let's go for it.' And a lot of times the risk pays off.
"Loudon is definitely a track that has been difficult for me across the board. It's just kind of a weird, flat track and it's just different than what we race on a normal basis. It's been a tough one for us but we're looking forward to going there because we had a decent finish last time thanks to a different fuel strategy. I know J.J. (Yeley) ran well there last time and I look forward to building off of what they learned and try to continue to build on that and have a good weekend."