David Gilliland is an American stock car racing driver who debuted in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2006. Since then, he recorded more than 330 races in the premium NASCAR series, without winning any race, only scoring three pole positions. Gilliland also competed in other two national series, winning one race, the 2006 Meijer 300 Busch Series race at Kentucky Speedway.
Second generation racer in Gilliland family
David Gilliland was born on April 1, 1976, in Riverside, California. His father Butch (born 1958) was a NASCAR driver between 1990 and 1999. After working on father's race car, David's career started in 1997 in the Winston West Series (now K&N Pro Series West), in which his father was participating. David had no successful debut season, as he completed only 27 laps in five races he started.
In the next couple of years, Gilliland competed occasionally in the West Series, participating in eleven races between 1999 and 2002. In 2002, he switched to the NASCAR Elite Division Southwest, participating in ten races and scoring the first victory at Irwindale Speedway.
Five wins in 2003 Elite Division Southwest season
In 2003, David entered a full season in the Elite Division Southwest, winning five out of fourteen races in the #11 Centrifugal Technologies Chevrolet. With those five wins, he ended sixth in the points.
In September 2003, David made his first attempt in major NASCAR race, but he failed to qualify for the Craftsman Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Rookie of the Year in the 2004 Winston West Series
In 2004, David again switched his focus on the West Series, competing full season in the #88 Chevrolet of MRG Motorsports. He won one race and finished third in the points, winning the Rookie of the Year award. He also participated in ten races of the Southwest Series, winning two times.
One more full season in the West Series followed in 2005, with one victory in 12 races, he finished fourth in the points.
Busch Series and Truck Series debut in 2005
In 2005, David debuted both in the Busch Series and Truck Series. On April 22, 2005, at Phoenix International Raceway, he crashed out early in his first Busch Series race, driving the #54 Chevrolet for Golembeski Racing. In November, he came one more time to Phoenix and was again classified as last, after he retired due to engine problems. David had a debut in the Truck Series in September, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and he finished in 22nd place.
The highlight of the 2005 season was Toyota All-Star Showdown in November at Irwindale Speedway, which David has won after apparent winner Mike Olsen was disqualified.
First and only victory for David in NASCAR career
For 2006 Busch Series season, Gilliland was driving the #84 Chevrolet for Clay Andrews Racing in seven races. On June 17, at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, David scored his first and only NASCAR victory, taking the win ahead of many Cup Series regulars.
A week later, on June 26, 2006, Gilliland debuted in the Nextel Cup Series, driving the #72 Dodge for CJM Racing. For the second part of the season, he made a deal with Robert Yates Racing to drive #38 Ford. In fourteen races David's best result was 15th place at Talladega and Atlanta. He started the race at Talladega from pole position which was his maiden pole in the Cup competition.
Pole position at 2007 Daytona 500
In the first race of 2007 season, at Daytona 500, David surprised all and won the pole position with #38 Ford. In the race, he finished eighth, which was his best result to date. In the rest of the season, he again showed his best performance at Talladega Superspeedway, finishing fourth.
At the end of his first full Cup season, Gilliland finished 28th. While competing in the Nextel Cup, Gilliland had 19 appearances in the Busch Series races with #25 Rensi Motorsports' Ford, but without notable results.
Close to the Sprint Cup victory at Sonoma
The season 2008 was the last in the #38 Yates Racing's Ford and it was David's best season to date, as he finished 27t in the points. He was closest to victory in June at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, where he finished second, behind Kyle Busch.
In 2009, Gilliland was hired to drive #71 Chevrolet for TRG Motorsports after his #38 team was closed due to lack of sponsorship. His best result in #71 car was 14th place in Las Vegas. Besides twenty-five races for TRG Motorsports, David raced in four more cars for Wood Brothers Racing, Robby Gordon Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Phoenix Racing, and finished the season as 37th in the points.
Front Row Motorsports' driver since 2010
At the end of the 2009 season, he left TRG Motorsports and joined Front Row Motorsports for the 2010 season. He was driving two Front Row's cars during the season (#38 and #37), finishing best in 19th place at Martinsville and Sonoma.
For 2011 season, David had a new number #34 on Taco Bell-sponsored car. He scored sensational third place at season-opening Daytona 500. Later in the season, he reached Top 10 one more time, finishing ninth at Talladega. In 2012, Gilliland returned to the #38 car, still driving for Front Row Motorsports. Thirteenth place at Talladega was his best result.
2013 - the best Sprint Cup season in his career
The best season in his career was in 2013 when David finished 26th in the points classification of the Sprint Cup Series. Talladega proved as his favorite track, as he scored two best results there in May and October.
He finished second in May's Aaron's 499, behind Front Row teammate David Ragan. In October's race, Gilliland was seventh.
One more pole position at Daytona
At 2014 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, David scored his third pole in a career. It was his first pole position for the Front Row Motorsports. In the race, David was a victim of the Big One on Lap 35 and he was classified 35th. The season-best result was 17th place at Pocono.
In 2015, David's sixth consecutive season with Front Row Motorsports, he started the season with 11th place at Daytona 500. Later through the year, he wasn't better than 18th and finished 32nd in the points.
The end of NASCAR career is close
For 2016 season, Gilliland was replaced by Landon Cassill in the #38 Ford Fusion. Gilliland tried to qualify for Daytona 500 in the FRM #35 car, but he failed. Later in the season, he returned to the track two more times, to drive #35 car at Talladega's GEICO 500 and Daytona's Coke Zero 400, finishing 17th and 19th.
David already has a successor
Gilliland's career is obviously near the end. The third generation racer is ready to take his place, as David's son Todd (born 2000) already started his career successfully, by becoming the youngest winner in the history of ARCA Series and winning few races in the 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.