By: Ashley McCubbin
When a driver is stuck in a rut unable to get to victory lane, you always hear the saying they just need to knock the monkey off their back and the wins will come.
In dominating fashion, Todd Gilliland drove his No. 38 Ford F-150 to victory lane at the Circuit of the Americas, a trend he could see continuing through the rest of 2021.
“I think even over the last month or so, the last month-and-a-half, two months we have made our trucks a lot faster,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “We’ve been more in contention every week.”
Gilliland was quick to reference the past couple weeks where he has come close, but just missed out. He restarted second late at Kansas Speedway, only to get blocked in and fade to sixth. He led 17 laps at Darlington Raceway, secured a stage win, before ultimately placing 15th.
“I don’t think this was a fluke by any means, and I think that’s the biggest thing I’m trying to talk to my team about is just stay focused,” he commented. “We need to keep making the little steps. There’s still a ways to go on the mile-and-a-halves and the short tracks, but I think we can get there and just any momentum is always a good thing. We just have to keep them motivated and for a lot of my guys this was the first win for them, so given that little taste of victory I hope it makes them that much more motivated to do more.”
Outside of the victory at COTA, Gilliland’s 2021 campaign has been solid with five top-10’s through the nine races. However, improvement is certainly needed in recognizing the team’s struggles on the intermediate tracks that make up the bulk of the schedule. The four races thus far have seen Gilliland fail to score a top-10 in three of them.
Though coming off the win alongside with sixth at Kansas, they could be in the process of turning their program in that regard around. They won’t have to wait long to wonder why, either, with Charlotte Motor Speedway up next on the schedule.
If they are able to keep building not only the intermediate program but all around, there is a chance they may be able to early favorites Sheldon Creed, Ben Rhodes, and John Hunter Nemechek a run for their money.
“I think that’s also something I’ve learned, just being in the top three series is that the seasons are long,” Gilliland added. “You’ve got to be your best come the playoffs and you just can’t get impatient with any of that, just trust the process to be your best when you get there. There’s still a lot more steps we can take and I’m really hoping we can just take one step every weekend.
“We don’t need to make anymore big jumps — just to be our best come the playoffs.”