David Gilliland won't mind the extra day at Kansas Speedway this week. He is averaging top-25 finishes at 1.5-mile tracks this season and has finished 23rd in his last two races at the 1.5-mile oval.
Despite needing to learn the new Generation-6 car's behavior on the intermediate tracks this season, the No. 38 Long John Silver's team has made solid improvements to its mile-and-a-half program. Evidence of that progress includes a 17th-place run at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway last month for Gilliland's best-ever finish for Front Row Motorsports at a 1.5-mile track.
Gilliland is also still celebrating the successful late-model debut of his 13-year-old son, Todd, who finished sixth in the Second Annual Fall Classic at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway last Saturday. The race was Todd's first in a stock car after graduating from quarter midgets. The tables are turning as the 37-year-old Gilliland now watches his son follow in his footsteps much the same way that David followed the path of his father, former NASCAR driver Butch Gilliland.
Comments from Long John Silver's team driver David Gilliland heading to Kansas:
"The Kansas track has changed a little bit since the pavement has weathered one winter but not a whole lot. It still has a ton of grip and it's very, very fast. I think they did a great job paving it. It's a very fun track and it's also very aero-sensitive.
"We've learned a lot as a race team and as an organization about Kansas and about mile-and-a-half tracks in general. These Generation-6 cars are lighter and faster, and we've been able to capture a lot of information and work with it to make our program better. We had a top-20 finish at Atlanta a few weeks ago - and basically ran in the top-20 all day - and that's a testament to how we've progressed this year.
"I'm so proud of my son, Todd. He ran his first late model race last weekend at Hickory. He was fastest in both practices, qualified ninth and finished sixth. And that was just his first race. It's still weird watching him drive a stock car. He's only 13 years old. But he caught the racing bug early and never let up. We made sure he tried other stick-and-ball sports to make sure this was what he really had his heart set on, and he made it pretty clear that this was it.
"It was actually a pretty neat weekend. My dad came in for Todd's race. He lives overseas, so he doesn't get to see us race too much. But he was here for Todd's race on Saturday night and then he flew back to Dover with me to be there for my race on Sunday. So, we actually had three generations of Gilliland racers all together last weekend. It was pretty special."