Gilliland Earns Top-Five Finish in First Race at Michigan

Gilliland Earns Top-Five Finish in First Race at Michigan Getty Images for NASCAR
Although there are no restrictor plates used at Michigan International Speedway, drafting plays a huge role throughout the 100-lap race. Rookie Todd Gilliland used every lap of practice, qualifying and the race to learn the fastest way around the two-mile oval. He learned quickly and brought his No. 4 Mobil 1 Tundra home in fifth place and was the highest finishing rookie of the race.
 
Stage One Recap:
  • Gilliland started second after missing the pole by just a fraction of a second. It was the fourth race in a row he started from the outside of the front row.
  • He took the lead from his KBM teammate Noah Gragson on lap seven and led for five laps before John Hunter Nemechek got by him.
  • When the stage ended on lap 20, Gilliland was third. He pitted on lap 23 for fuel only.
 
Stage Two Recap:
  • He started the second 20-lap stage from second place, but fell back to eighth on the restart.
  • A caution just a few laps before the end of the stage brought Gilliland to pit road for four tires so he could capitalize on track position by staying out when the stage ended.
  • He was eighth at the end of Stage Two on lap 41.
 
Stage Three Recap:
  • After staying out during the stage break, Gilliland restarted the final 60-lap stage in fourth.
  • He said his Mobil 1 Tundra was tight, but remained in the top five.
  • Since nobody could make it to the end of the race on fuel, Gilliland pitted under green on lap 74 for right-side tires and a track bar adjustment to free up his Tundra.
  • Luckily, he was on the lead lap when a caution came on lap 79 and the trucks who had not stopped under green came to pit road.
  • Gilliland was second when the race resumed on lap 84 and took the lead for another three laps until Johnny Sauter passed him.
  • While working on his racing line, he held on to finish the race fifth.

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Steven B. Wilson

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