Daytona 500 Media Day (Todd Gilliland)

TODD GILLILAND, No. 38 gener8tor Ford Mustang Dark Horse – WHAT DO YOU EXPECT THE DUEL RACES TO LOOK LIKE? “For me, I think the Duels will be a huge learning experience. I think obviously qualifying will show what kind of speed everyone has, which I think the new Dark Horse Mustang is gonna be really fast, but then I think once we get into the Duels it’s about seeing how the bumpers line up. Like I said, I don’t have any worries about how our car is gonna draft, it’s more so about pushing each other and being consistent with all of that stuff. I think all of our speed is going to be fine, but there’s gonna be a few things to learn, for sure.”

HOW DO YOU FIND MORE CONSISTENT SPEED AND HOW HAS THE OFF-SEASON BEEN AT FRONT ROW? “If it was easy, everyone would be super consistent and I think it’s only getting harder in the Cup Series with everyone improving their program, so it’s just gonna be tougher every single year, but as a team I think having the consistency back with Ryan and Brit as my spotter, I think that never hurts. And then I think with Travis, the 34 crew chief, and Ryan, my crew chief, just getting closer and closer as time goes on, I think that will always help. We have some exciting stuff as far as new alliances and more aero data, all the stuff that should only help us, so I’m super excited about it. This is probably the most information that we’ve ever had and it’s just about putting it to good use and making the most of it.”

HOW SIGNIFICANT CAN THIS PENSKE ALLIANCE BE FOR YOU GUYS? “I’m not 100 percent sure on how all of it goes. That’s more of a crew chief’s side of things and just how all of that is gonna flow, but, for me, just what I’ve heard we’re gonna have the most information we’ve ever had. That just gives my crew chief and two engineers more puzzle pieces to make the ultimate thing they want to make, so it’s really cool and really exciting and I’m excited about it for sure.”

YOU HAD A SHOT TO WIN YOUR DUEL RACE LAST YEAR. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THAT EXPERIENCE THAT MIGHT HELP YOU THIS YEAR? “It was definitely really cool to watch that back and see. Really, we were in a perfect spot I thought. There were maybe a few things I would have done different last year in the Duels, like a half-a-lap before that, that would have put us in a better spot. I think it’s a little bit learning from that, but those are tough situations. You can think about what you’re gonna do, but when your heart is just racing in that situation, my spotter it was his first race in the Cup Series too, but those are just really, really good spots to be in to learn. Obviously, it was nice that we didn’t wreck. We kind of got turned on the apron. If our car was driving better too, I would have been in a much better situation, so there are so many different layers of learning to that, but I’m really excited I had that experience and to be back here and try to do it again.”

HOW MUCH DO NERVES PLAY A ROLE IN THE FINAL LAPS OF SPEEDWAY RACING LIKE THIS? “I think the biggest thing to me at the end of these races is how much time is actually left. It’s like with 10 to go it feels like everything is on the line and we have to go right now, but, in reality, 10 laps at Daytona can be hours. It’s about surviving, not getting too anxious, not making a bad move too early. Even though 10 laps seems like the end of the world, it’s about having guys like Brit on the radio, my spotter, to keep me in the moment just chugging forward and not getting too nervous or anxious and making a bad move too early.”

TEN LAPS ALMOST MEANS 35 LAPS TO GO. “Exactly. That’s what I need them to tell me at least because I’ll still get anxious in the car.”

HOW DO YOU RACE IN THE MOMENT WHILE ALSO THINKING AHEAD TO THE END? “It’s about being patient. Last year, I think I was right behind Ricky with seven, eight to 10 laps to go. We kind of got separated and he obviously went on to win the race. I think that experience shows me that you’re never out of it. Obviously, the field has thinned out a little bit by then. I made a couple bad moves and I was in the big wreck at the end to where you really have to make the correct moves to be further forward, whether it’s going through that last pit cycle or getting in the right spot at the right time to be ahead of I think where the wrecks can happen, so it’s about surviving, being in the right position and having something to fight with at the end.”

WHAT WAS A BAD MOVE IN YOUR MIND? “I think it was honestly a move of just being too aggressive. I think I was in a line with him. I think I got out of line and then kind of got side-by-side and we actually ended up losing the front draft, which that really didn’t end up costing us because there was a caution, but it was really the point of losing track position. I think we’ve seen with the Next Gen car that track position is key. Once it gets to the end of the race and it’s two-by-two it’s like going down the freeway, there’s sometimes nowhere to go. If you get out of line, you’re gonna lose all of your spots. It’s about keeping track position all day and then on the flip side of that too the pit cycles are even that much more important. We’ve seen guys saving fuel to get on and off pit road faster. Under green leading the race, it’s just opened up a whole new page of strategy in superspeedway racing.”

IN ONE SENSE IT FEELS LIKE A FUEL MILEAGE RACE? “Yeah, I think it’s always been that way to some extent. Obviously, it’s always been the more fuel you can save on the racetrack, the less time you’re gonna have to spend in the pits, but I think before when you could just make a third line and drive back to the front, I think it’s really been more under the microscope in the Next Gen era. Really, the first year maybe not so much, but I think last year is when guys really started to realize how much of a difference it can actually make and just how important it really is. To me, it definitely began to be more relevant last year for sure.”

SO WHAT IS IT LIKE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK IF THEY’RE SAVING AT THE FRONT? “I definitely think it does present some opportunity to go forward. I think, to be honest, the third lane at Talladega last year, I think me and Michael and Riley was in the 36 car, and we made the third lane work and got to the front. But, truthfully, I really think that was just because guys were saving fuel and it slows down the bottom lane so much. At the back of the pack you’re barely in the gas just kind of sticking with everyone – kind of for the same reason, there’s nowhere to go and you know just as much too. You have to be saving fuel to keep up with these guys when everyone pits, so it’s really not a bad place to be. Obviously, you want to be the one saving fuel closer to the front.”

Ford Performance PR