Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thirteen-Year-Old Gilliland Earns Runner-Up Finish

Todd Gilliland - son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland
Todd Gilliland - son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Driver David Gilliland continues to impress.

He might not be old enough to get a North Carolina driver’s license, but 13-year-old Todd Gilliland is already showcasing his skills behind the wheel of a race car. The son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland came within two car lengths of earning a win in just his third race in a stock car Sunday, finishing second in the Southeast Limited Late Models event at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway.

Gilliland started the 100-lap event in fifth after topping the speed charts in practice sessions earlier in the weekend. After initially slipping back to 13th, his No. 98 Performance Racing Warehouse/Superior Logistics Ford got more comfortable on the rough half-mile oval and started climbing through the field.

By Lap 58 he had pushed his way back into the top 10 and sat in eighth. And by Lap 79, he was battling it out three-wide for third place – a position that he won. Gilliland passed for second position with just seven laps to go and then set his sights on the leader.

A Lap 95 caution for a competitor in the wall put Gilliland’s final charge on hold until they could clear the track and prepare for a green-white-checkered finish. Restarting in second, he had two laps to try to catch Christian PaHud. He couldn’t overtake the leader, but he held back the rest of the field to finish second.

The eighth-grader at Mill Creek Middle School in Claremont, N.C., now has two top-10 finishes in just three late model starts since September. Gilliland just recently advanced to racing stock cars after winning the 2013 USAC World Formula National Quarter Midget Championship, winning races across the country from California to North Carolina.

“I’m loving racing these cars,” said the young racer. “It’s still new to me but I’m having a lot of fun. I can’t wait for next year to run more tracks and get more experience.”

He is the third generation of Gilliland racers, following his father, David, and grandfather, Butch, who also competed in the Cup Series.

“Our original plan was just to test Todd in the late model this year,” said David Gilliland. “But when we saw how quickly he took to it, we let him race. And I couldn’t be prouder of him. He’s showing maturity and patience that you don’t expect from a 13-year-old. He’s doing things already that took me 15 years to learn.”

Todd Gilliland Racing will now take time off for the holidays and prepare for a full season of late-model racing in 2014. Follow the team’s plans at ToddGilliland.com and on Twitter at @ToddGilliland_.

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