Gilliland scores 1st victory in trucks with Martinsville win
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) — Todd Gilliland won his first career Truck Series race by holding off championship contender Ross Chastain in overtime at Martinsville Speedway.
Gilliland passed Chastain for the lead in regulation on Saturday and had a decent cushion until an accident between Natalie Decker and Jordan Anderson brought out the caution with six laps remaining. He bested Chastain on the restart in overtime and sealed the victory when Chastain and Harrison Burton tangled on the final lap.
Gilliland’s win came in a Toyota owned by Kyle Busch Motorsports and prevented a title contender from locking in a spot in the championship-deciding finale. The final field of four still has all four slots remaining with just one race to go to set the championship field because non-playoff drivers have won both events in this round of the playoffs.
For Gilliland, it was a bit of redemption during a second season driving for Busch, who is considered to have the best trucks in NASCAR. The victory was the first in 46 career starts dating to 2017 and Gilliland is eighth in the standings.
He referenced a strain between himself and Busch on his team radio after crossing the finish line when he used an expletive to shout that Busch should stay in his motorhome rather than visit him in victory lane. Busch, who has been critical of the lack of results from his two drivers this season, congratulated Gilliland after the win.
Gilliland said his remarks about Busch on his radio were “just kind of heat of the moment really,” he said. “Just a lot of emotions. Everyone has heard what (Busch) said and obviously it’s true, we should’ve been running better. I’ve wanted to win for the last year and a half as well.
“I’m doing all I can and the guys at the shop are. It was pretty much just heat of the moment. Probably wish I didn’t say it now, but it is what it is. He said some stuff about me and it is what it is.”
He added that he doesn’t know what he’s doing in 2020.
“I honestly have no idea what’s going on next year,” Gilliland said. “Results equal opportunity, so we haven’t had either and like I said, it’s tough. Racing is a results-driven sport and when you don’t have ’em, stuff doesn’t happen. We’ll keep going.”
Chastain finished second, followed by Johnny Sauter, Grant Enfinger and Timmy Hill, who was a career-best fifth. Burton, teammates with Gilliland, dropped from third to 18th on the final lap.
It was a rough day for the title contenders. Stewart Friesen was spun in the final stage, reigning series champion and points leader Brett Moffitt was in several incidents and finished 29th, and Matt Crafton had to change his battery mid-race and finished 23rd.
Austin Hill and Tyler Ankrum were among those involved in a nine-truck accident.
With only the Nov. 8 race at ISM Raceway outside of Phoenix remaining to trim the championship field from six to four, the drivers currently in position to advance to the championship are Moffitt, Friesen and Chastain, with Hill and Crafton tied for fourth in the standings.