MARTINSVILLE, Va. – After two lackluster showings at Martinsville Speedway, Todd Gilliland is looking to take a step up at the Virginia half-mile and leave with a Ridgeway grandfather clock.
He took a step towards that goal by topping the overall NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice charts on Friday afternoon, posting a lap of 19.919 seconds (95.065 mph) in the No. 4 Mobil 1 Toyota.
Now in his second season in the Truck Series, Gilliland will seek his first victory during Saturday’s TruNorth Global 250, hoping to stop team owner Kyle Busch’s undefeated streak so far this year.
“I’d say we’re pretty good over the entire run,” Gilliland told SPEED SPORT after final practice. “There’s still some changes that we can make overnight, I think, to make this piece better, but overall we made a lot of gains and I’m really pleased with that. We’ve got a good direction; this is a good place to start.
“I think we’re in the ballpark, but I think it’s going to take a few more changes to have a winning truck.”
Gilliland’s last two Martinsville appearances have ended in 14th- and 12th-place finishes, including a tough run after starting from the pole last fall, so he’s hoping to rebound this time with a strong result.
“It’s hard to get the number on paper here; this place can be pretty finicky,” Gilliland noted. “My first race here, I was running eighth to 10th all day and stuff happened in front of me to where I finished fifth. The last two times I was here, I had top-three trucks in both races and didn’t even get a top 10.
“It’s just about being in the right spot, being smart and taking care of the truck to have something you can fight with at the end.”
Second-quick on the speed charts was Stewart Friesen (19.965/94.846) in the No. 52 Halmar Int’l Chevrolet, followed by his quasi-teammate Sheldon Creed (19.968/94.832), who was among the top five trucks in both practice sessions on Friday.
ThorSport Racing’s Grant Enfinger and Hattori Racing Enterprises’ Austin Hill completed the fast five.
Sixth was part-timer Myatt Snider, just ahead of rookie Derek Kraus in seventh. Kraus is making his second-career Truck Series start and his first stop at Martinsville this weekend for Bill McAnally Racing.
Four-time Martinsville Truck Series winner Johnny Sauter ranked eighth on the combined speed charts.
Rookie Tyler Ankrum, who paced the first of two hour-long practice rounds on Friday, was ninth overall at 20.030 seconds (94.538 mph) with the No. 17 May’s Hawaii Toyota.
Canadian Raphael Lessard, making his Truck Series debut this weekend for Kyle Busch Motorsports, was ninth-fastest in both sessions and capped off the top 10 in the overall Friday rundown.
Young’s Motorsports driver Gus Dean led a special one-hour, rookies-only practice session held Friday morning prior to the regularly scheduled pair of practices. Eight drivers took part in that session.
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series qualifying is set for 10:40 a.m. Saturday morning.