World, meet David Gilliland. In a classic David vs. Goliath story, Gilliland and the No. 84 Clay Andrews Racing (CAR) Chevrolet crew turned the stock car world on its ear by winning the Meijer 300 presented by Oreo at the Kentucky Speedway.
World, meet David Gilliland.
In a classic David vs. Goliath story, Gilliland and the No. 84 Clay Andrews Racing (CAR) Chevrolet crew turned the stock car world on its ear by winning the Meijer 300 presented by Oreo at the Kentucky Speedway. The epic victory, already being hailed as one of the biggest moments in NASCAR Busch Series history, is the first for the 30-year-old rookie. It comes in just his seventh Busch start. It is the first Busch win for crew chief Billy Wilburn and team owner Clay Andrews as well.
According to popular belief this was not supposed to happen. Busch regulars had yet to unseat any of the NEXTEL Cup invaders and grab a victory in the nation's second largest racing series. However it was a rookie driver, with an unaffiliated, start-up team with no sponsor that builds its own motors that proved that their can be parity in big-time auto racing these days. Add to the fact that this was the first race with the new CAR pit crew and it truly makes it a motion picture ending.
"People have asked me all season how I feel about racing against Cup guys and my story has remained the same," said an elated Gilliland. "I want to be where they are someday and racing against them now will only prepare you for the Cup Series. We beat them tonight so, no, I don't mind at all."
The Riverside, Calif. native definitely has the attention of those drivers now.
Gilliland took the green flag from the fourth starting spot thanks to his best qualifying effort of the season. His car was stout throughout the race, but it was downright dominant when it mattered. He never fell lower than 19th and was the beneficiary of a great call by Wilburn on lap 116. Nearing the end of a fuel run, Wilburn held the No. 84 out until the last possible second. On lap 117 the caution came out trapping many cars a lap down and allowed Gilliland to bring a thirsty Chevrolet down pit road for service.
"We were due a caution," said Wilburn. "You could feel it so I kept telling David 'Give me one more.' Sometimes you get bit in those situations, but it was our night."
From there it was all Gilliland. He ran down and passed some of the best stock car drivers in the world. With ten laps to go he made his way around J.J. Yeley for his first lead of the night and held him off on a late restart to set off a wild celebration and a win that will reverberate through NASCAR lore.
"After we missed the Charlotte race I was probably the most down I have been in my career," sounded Gilliland. "I went home and sat in my office with some of my trophies and told myself 'I can do this."
"I can't thank Clay Andrews enough," continued Gilliland. "His gives us everything we need to be successful. This race should get us some sponsor money to take some of the burden off of him. But he loves this sport as much as any of us on this team and his enthusiasm is definitely contagious."