Gilliland father-son duo ready to make some monster history

David Gilliland, left, and son Todd Gilliland have a chat before the final practice Thursday afternoon in Dover prepping for the JEGS 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Special to the Delaware State News/Jon Lloyd Jr.

DOVER — While the calendar might not agree, David Gilliland admitted that it’s going to feel a lot like Father’s Day for him at Dover International Speedway this afternoon.

Gilliland will be a part of NASCAR history when he and his 17-year-old son, Todd, become just the 10th father-son duo to compete against each other in a race, joining names such as Bobby and Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Richard and Kyle Petty.

The Gillilands hope to be battling it out for victory when the checkered flag falls at the conclusion of today’s Jegs 200 Camping World Truck Series race (5 p.m., FS1) at Dover this afternoon.

Todd Gilliland makes a pass during practice Thursday afternoon in Dover.

“It’s a special day getting ready to race with my son,” David Gilliland said. “The most special time in my racing career has been the past couple of years being with Todd and helping him, working on his cars and watching him going out and winning as many races as he has and championships.

“I’m super proud of him and it’s really exciting to be racing with him.”

Todd Gilliland is a promising young up-and-coming driver in NASCAR. He made his Truck Series debut at Dover last June, but today might actually turn out to be a little memorable for him.

“We’re hoping to beat each other, but you’ve just got to focus on the real race out there,” said Todd Gilliland. “It’s going to be good, (my dad’s) always a good guy to lean on for me but it’s always going to be tough racing with him.”

David Gilliland, 42, was a regular on the Cup Series from 2007 to ’15, taking the green flag 333 times. He has a trio of poles (all on superspeedways), four top-five and eight top-10 finishes in NASCAR’s premier series.

However, nowadays he is becoming accustomed to being his son’s biggest supporter.

“Just like in practice, we unloaded and I looked up there (at the scoreboard) and he was P1 for a long time there in practice,” the proud father said. “It made me happy.”

David Gilliland (left) and son Todd Gilliland speak at a press conference about competing against each other.

David Gilliland and his son appear to be heading in opposite directions when it comes to their NASCAR careers.

Todd Gilliland will be making just his eighth career Truck Series start at Dover today. It will also be just his second race this season behind the wheel of the No. 4 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

He isn’t eligible to compete on intermediate tracks (more than a mile in length) or superspeedways until he reaches his 18th birthday on May 15.

So, Todd had to sit on the sidelines and watch a cast of substitute drivers pilot his truck at Daytona, Atlanta and Las Vegas – and will again at Kansas next week before he’s in the seat for the remainder of the season starting May 18 at Charlotte.

He said it wasn’t easy watching other drivers get in and out of the truck that’s been marked for him.

“It’s been very hard,” said Todd Gilliland. “I’m a racer and all I want to do is race. Seeing other people jump in the truck you are going to be in the rest of the year is really tough, but you have to take every opportunity you have to learn and catch up to the guys who already have three more races worth of experience than I do.”

Todd competed in six Truck Series races last year, posting a pair of top-five’s and three top-10 finishes. He had a best finish of third at New Hampshire and crossed the line fifth at Martinsville in the fall.

His father will be making his first Truck Series start at Dover today, driving the No. 54 Toyota for DGR-Crosley Racing. The team is co-owned by David Gilliland and Bob LeMastus.

Although this will be Gilliland’s first truck race at Dover, the veteran driver is no stranger to the “Monster Mile,” where he has accumulated 22 combined Xfinity and Cup Series starts.

“I’m very happy that this deal came together for this particular weekend,” David Gilliland said. “Dover is one of my favorite race tracks because it’s so unique in that the driver has so much control in the outcome of the race. It’s a tough track and it will challenge every driver out there because you never know what it’s going to throw at you next.

“Plus, there’s a lot of exciting stuff going on this weekend with it being mine and Todd’s first NASCAR event racing against each other. It’s certainly going to be a special day.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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