Ricky Benton Racing (RBR) Enterprises announced Tuesday that veteran NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Gilliland will be behind the wheel of the No. 92 BTS Tire and Wheel Distributors/Goodyear FleetHQ/Wynn's/Tim Cooksey Oil Company Ford F-150 when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) makes its first stop of 2015 at Daytona International Speedway for the NextEra Energy Resources 250.
Gilliland has nearly 300 starts in the Sprint Cup Series and 56 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The Riverside, Calif. native will be attempting to make his fourth career NCWTS start, and first since 2009, with RBR at Daytona.
"The trucks put on a great show and Daytona is such a special place," said Gilliland. "I am thrilled to have this opportunity to drive the RBR Ford."
Not a chance pairing
Coming over to run the RBR Ford F-150 was not a matter of happenstance for Gilliland, who drives a Ford for Front Row Motorsports on Sundays.
"I have some friends at Roush-Yates Motors (RBR's engine supplier) and have worked with (long-time RBR crew member Mark) Huff," Gilliland said. They put me in contact with Ricky when they found out that he was looking for someone to drive his truck. With me running a full-time season with Front Row in Cup, it was important that any opportunity to run in any other series be with a Ford team.
"Ricky actually called me when I was out of the country on vacation, so we played a bit of phone tag before finally putting the deal together."
RBR fields one of only three Fords that regularly compete in the Camping World Truck Series.
"We are very fortunate to get someone with David's experience behind the wheel of the truck for Daytona," said team owner Ricky Benton. "Everyone in the garage goes into Daytona with a lot of optimism and high expectations. Sometimes those expectations are justified and sometimes not. We have high expectations and I believe in my heart that we can win with the combination we have put together."
Gilliland agrees with the team owner's assessment.
"I want to win races," he said, "and this crew, the engine package and what Ricky has put together can win. I want to be a part of it."
For Gilliland and Benton, there are no concrete plans for 2015 beyond Daytona.
"I'm not ruling anything out," Gilliland said. "We are going to run Daytona and see how it goes from there."
Beyond the new driver, there are very few other program changes for the Ricky Benton Racing team for 2015. Mike Hester returns atop the pit box as crew chief. The team will again be running Roush-Yates-powered Fords.
"We are taking the same truck to Daytona that we ran last year," said Hester. Ross Chastain started that truck in eighth position on the grid and ran in the top five before a mid-race crash ended the team's night. "We spent the winter working on all of our trucks and I feel like we have found some speed and I can't wait to see what David (Gilliland) can do behind the wheel at Daytona.