DAVID GILLILAND ADDS ANOTHER VICTORY TO LIST OF WINS FOR HIS FAMILY AT INFINEON SONOMA, Calif. (June 23, 2007) - David Gilliland watched his father, Butch, win in NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series competition at Infineon Raceway 10...
DAVID GILLILAND ADDS ANOTHER VICTORY TO LIST OF WINS FOR HIS FAMILY AT INFINEON
SONOMA, Calif. (June 23, 2007) - David Gilliland watched his father, Butch, win in NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series competition at Infineon Raceway 10 years ago. It was David's turn on Saturday, as his father watched him win the Blue Lizard Suncream 200.
David's victory came three years after he won a NASCAR Elite Division, Southwest Series race on the twisting 1.99-mile road course and 10 years after Butch won back-to-back Grand National West Series races at the Sonoma track.
David never had the chance to tackle the challenging road course in West Series competition, because the track was not on the series schedule when he raced full-time on the circuit in 2004 and 2005. Now, as a regular in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, he was determined to take advantage of the opportunity to do double duty at Infineon and race in the companion West Series race.
"It's really neat," said Gilliland, who called Riverside, Calif., home before moving to North Carolina. "I've been coming here for many years, with my dad having big success. To be able to come back and have a day like today is just incredible. Days like this don't come around very often."
Although he dominated much of the action, winning the Bud Pole Award and leading the most laps, Gilliland faced plenty of challenges. Seventeen-year-old Joey Logano dashed into the initial lead and ran in the runner-up spot in the early stages of the race. The young Joe Gibbs Racing development driver pressured Gilliland later in the race, before dropping out with engine failure on lap 55.
Meanwhile, Gilliland and his team relied on a different strategy than most, opting to only make one pit stop for fuel midway in the race and not take on fresh tires. Pit procedures in place for the event restricted teams from refueling and taking on fresh tires in the same stop. In addition, teams were limited to taking on only two tires per stop.
"We took some tire wear readings in practice and made the plan and stuck to it," Gilliland said of their choice not to change tires.
Gilliland relinquished the lead when he made his pit stop on lap 22. Although mired at the back of the pack, he was soon up front when nearly all the leaders pitted during a caution on lap 31. Gilliland took the lead on lap 35 and maintained the top spot to the checkered flag.
After Logano's late-race challenge went up in smoke, P.J. Jones assumed second and closed in on Gilliland. Road race specialist Boris Said was also in pursuit late in the event. Gilliland remained focused on his task, however. "Road racing is such a thing that you have to just race the race track," he said. "As soon as you look up in your mirror and start racing the guy behind you or ahead of you, you're going to make mistakes.
Gilliland held on for the win, bringing the Sunrise Ford-sponsored Ford across the line with a margin of victory of 1.246 seconds. It marked his third career series victory and netted him $12,000 in prize money and posted awards.
Jones of Torrance, Calif., was second in the Bennett Lane Winery "Maximus" Ford - followed by Said of Carlsbad, Calif., in the Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet. All three drivers were doing double duty at Infineon, competing also in the NEXTEL Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Sunday.
Eric Holmes of Escalon, Calif., was fourth in the Van Dyk Baler/Groove California Wines Dodge. He was followed by Justin Lofton of Westmorland, Calif., in the Lofton Cattle/Cometic/Klotz/Eibach Ford. Completing the top 10 were Brian Ickler, Marc Davis, Stan Silva Jr., Kenny Shepherd and Tom Dyer.
The race featured eight lead changes among six drivers - Gilliland, Said, Logano, Lofton, Holmes and Moses Smith. The pace of the event was slowed by eight cautions for 22 laps.
Mike David, who led the championship standings heading into the event, saw a top-10 run slip away when he got into a tire barrier late in the race. He recovered to finish on the lead lap in 24th. The Modesto, Calif., driver maintained his lead in the standings with 1,090 points. Bakersfield, Calif., driver Mike Duncan - who finished 16th - is second in the standings with 1,006. Third through fifth is Johnny Borneman of Ramona, Calif., with 966; Lofton with 965; and Eric Hardin of Anaheim, Calif., with 934. Rounding out the top 10 are Jason Bowles at 926, Brett Thompson at 918, Ryan Foster at 838, Ickler at 833 and Alex Haase at 825.
Bowles - who qualified fourth quickest at Infineon, but ended up finishing one lap down in 29th - continues to lead the battle for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. He tops the freshman class with 54 points. Foster is second, with 46; followed by Eric Richardson with 42; Haase with 41; Silva with 28; Moses Smith with 26, Rick Wall with 23; and Mike Gallegos with 21. Others in the rookie program include David Mayhew, Jamie Dick, Lloyd Mack, Brandon Riehl, Thomas Martin and Garland Self.
The West Series next heads to Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore., for the BI-MART Firecracker 150 presented by NAPA Auto Parts on Friday, June 30.