STATESVILLE, N.C. – At any time that David Gilliland isn’t in his No. 38 Ford at Auto Club Speedway this weekend, he’ll probably be busy visiting with an old friend or family member. The Riverside, Calif., native enjoys the annual homecoming to the Fontana speedway, his home track before moving across the country seven years ago to pursue his NASCAR career.
Gilliland hopes to answer all the support with his best run of the young season. His team aims to top the 24th-place finish earned last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where they were running in the top 15 until suffering damage from a blown tire.
Long John Silver’s returns to Gilliland’s Ford Fusion at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway, where the driver has 11 Sprint Cup career starts. His best finish is 17th (2008).
Comments from Long John Silver’s team driver David Gilliland heading to Fontana: “I always like going back to California. When I moved to North Carolina, I moved from a place about five or 10 minutes from the racetrack there. So I’ve still got a lot of friends and family there and a lot of people that helped me and gave me opportunities along the way to get me where I’m at today. So I always like going back and visiting with people who are special to me and my career.
“It’s fun. I think all the West Coast races have a David Gilliland cheering section. It’s neat to come see everybody. We’ll probably have sections in the infield, in the grandstands, all over the place.
“The racetrack itself is aero-dependent with less banking. It seems the less banking, the more aero-dependent a track is. And that’s the kind of track where Front Row Motorsports as a team has been working really hard to get better at, so we’re looking forward to going there to put some new ideas on track and make some gains. The track is plenty wide and we’ve seen the top groove come in there, so it’s a fun track to run.
“Our organization has come leaps and bounds over the winter from where we were. Bob Jenkins has really put a lot into the team over the off-season and the guys have worked really hard. We’ve added some new key people and moved some other people around. We’ve got Derrick Finley back into a true competition director role and he’s really been able to step up our program in all aspects of our team. We’ve got a new crew chief on board, and it’s just been really good seeing the transformation taking place. This is my fourth year with Front Row and I feel like we’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we’ve ever been.”