Todd Gilliland (No. 4 Frontline Enterprises Toyota) earned his second career ARCA Menards Series victory in Friday’s General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway. Gilliland, who is a full-time driver in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, took the lead after the first caution period of the race on lap 43 and led to the checkered.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Gilliland said. “We won in our first start at Toledo in 2015 and it seems like we’ve been so close every time we’ve raced in ARCA since then but something would jump up and keep us out of victory lane. We were finally able to get the weight off our shoulders here today. It’s a huge relief and I think it’s exactly what I needed to get my confidence up over on the Truck side too.”
Gilliland held off a last lap charge from second-place finisher Riley Herbst (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Terrible Herbst/Advance Auto Parts Toyota) and third-place finisher Brandon Lynn (No. 20 Carolina Excavation & Grading Toyota). Herbst, in just his second ARCA Menards Series start of the season, was not satisfied with second.
“We came here to win so second stinks,” Herbst said with a chuckle afterwards. “We’ve had a pretty rough couple of weeks so this is a great come back. I wanted to get aggressive on the last lap but we have to look at the big picture too. We’re sharing the car this year with Ty Gibbs and he’s had a couple of really good weeks in a row so we want to keep him up in the owner’s points. I might have been able to make a move but I didn’t want to get shuffled out and give away all those points so they asked me to keep it down on the yellow line and that’s what we did.”
Lynn, who started from the General Tire Pole for the first time in his career, was in the same boat.
“The 20 car is leading the owners points so I didn’t want to do something stupid and cost them a ton of points,” he said. “On the last lap Michael (Self, No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) had a head of steam and if I jumped up in front of him it could have been a huge mess. I don’t get a chance to run the ARCA Menards Series very often so it’s great to come out of here with another good finish.”
For Gilliland’s father David, himself a former driver and co-owner of the car his son drove to victory, it was an emotional evening watching the third generation of his family win on one of the sport’s biggest stages.
“I have been around a long time and I’ve done some things right and I’ve made a lot of mistakes,” the elder Gilliland said. “But this is special. After the year he’s had, with all of the ups and downs, it’s great for him to come here and get a win like this. I had some really good runs here and finished second behind my teammate here one time. But watching this was better. Todd is a fighter. He’s a winner. He never gives up and I think this will be the boost he needs for the rest of the year.”
Outside front row starter Ty Majeski (No. 22 Chad Bryant Racing Ford) finished fourth, while Michael Self finished fifth.
Self unofficially assumes the series championship lead by five points over Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Health Care/Liberty Village Ford), who finished in seventh.
The race was slowed just twice by caution flags, the first at lap 41 for an incident involving Thad Moffitt (No. 46 Transportation Impact Chevrolet) and Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) and the second for a hard crash by Tommy Vigh, Jr. (No. 10 Extreme Kleaner/Menards Toyota) at lap 51. A total of 15 laps were run under the caution, holding the average speed to 141.398 miles per hour. Gilliland’s margin of victory at the stripe was 0.149 seconds.
Gus Dean (No. 32 Baker Distributing Chevrolet), Sean Corr (No. 43 The Trans Group/NESCO Chevrolet) and Joe Graf Jr. (No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE Ford) also led laps throughout the race. Corr led the most laps of the evening, topping the field for 35 circuits and earning the Richmond Water Heaters Halfway Challenge Award.
The next race for the ARCA Menards Series is the General Tire Music City 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville on Saturday, May 4. Practice is scheduled for 2:15 pm ET/1:15 pm CT, General Tire Pole Qualifying will follow at 5:15 pm ET/4;15 pm CT, and the green flag will fly on the 200 lap main event at 9 pm ET/8 pm CT. The race will be televised live on MAVTV. ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat for free at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!