When racecar drivers make the climb up the ladder from grassroots racing to the developmental steps on their way to a NASCAR Cup Series career, they often continue to make appearances in the ARCA Menards Series as a way to get experience at tracks they’ve yet to race at before their first NASCAR touring series race there.
That’s exactly what Todd Gilliland did in 2019. A part of Kyle Busch Motorsports’ NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series operation since the start of the 2018 season, Gilliland dipped his toes in the ARCA pool three times throughout the season, each time in hopes of gaining a little extra experience at tracks he’s either never been to before or doesn’t have a lot of experience at.
Gilliland holds the ARCA Menards Series record as the youngest-ever series winner. Rules state drivers must be 15 years of age to be eligible to race on short tracks, and Gilliland qualified for the 2015 race at Toledo on his fifteenth birthday. The next day, he went on to earn the win, practically ensuring he’ll stay the youngest winner in series history for a long time, if not forever. That early experience carried him on to two consecutive ARCA Menards Series West championships in 2016 and 2017 with a combined twelve wins over the course of those two seasons.
In 2018 he started four ARCA races with three top-ten finishes as he prepared for his first season in the Gander Trucks. In 2019, he was set to race just at Daytona and Talladega driving for his father’s DGR-Crosley Racing team.
He qualified 18th at Daytona and dodged a late-race melee on the backstretch to come home second. At Talladega a couple of months later, Gilliland qualified 15th and worked his way to the front of the field just past the halfway mark, leading the final 34 laps to earn his second career ARCA Menards Series win.
A third race was added to Gilliland’s schedule, substituting for Riley Herbst at Pocono in the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Gilliland earned the General Tire Pole Award and led 31 of the race’s 60 laps on his way to a runner-up finish.
In three starts, Gilliland had a 1.7 average finish and completed all 222 of his possible laps. His lowest finish, incredibly, was second. He also earned his first Gander Trucks win, at Martinsville, as well as 14 top-ten finished on his way to eleventh in the series 2019 standings.
Next up for the ARCA Menards Series is the annual pre-season test at Daytona International Speedway on Friday and Saturday, January 10 and 11. Sunday, January 12 is reserved as a rain date if needed. Registered users can access free live timing & scoring will be available throughout all on-track sessions on ARCARacing.com.