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David Gilliland And Ricky Benton Racing Earn Strong Finish In NextEra Energy Resources 250

David Gilliland And Ricky Benton Racing Earn Strong Finish In NextEra Energy Resources 250

by February 21, 2015 0 comments

Photo Credit: Wayne Thomas

By: Hunter Thomas
Twitter: @HunterThomas08

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – On Friday night during the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway, David Gilliland stayed out of trouble and brought the No. 92 BTS Tire and Wheel Distributors/Goodyear FleetHQ/Wynn’s/Tim Cooksey Oil Company Ford F-150 to an impressive sixth place finish.

Ricky Benton Racing, based out of Cerro Gordo, N.C. has been improving their performances over the last few years, and it showed more than ever before in Daytona this weekend as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series kicked off the 2015 season. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, David Gilliland jumped on board with the team for his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Daytona International Speedway. Although Gilliland is a veteran in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 294 starts, he has only competed in four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events in his career.

“I think the weekend went real good,” Gilliland said. “I think the guys and Mike (Hester) and all of the guys at the shop prepared a good truck, and that makes my job a lot easier obviously when you get to the racetrack and so we had speed from the first lap on the track, and you know from then it was just kind of me trying to figure out what I needed to do to put myself in a position at the end to be able to hopefully win.”

Gilliland started 13th on Friday night, but at Daytona, it’s all about keeping the truck in one piece and avoiding the “big one”, and that’s exactly what Gilliland did. On Lap 50, Ben Kennedy’s truck nearly came to a complete stop just in front of the field as they entered Turn 3, and that sparked a chain reaction that involved 12 trucks. Gilliland just narrowly escaped the mayhem as he took to the apron to avoid the pile up.

“There were a couple (crashes) right in front of us,” Gilliland said. “It was too close. That’s about four I don’t even know how I missed really in the last two days. You know, it’s Daytona, and you kind of know and brace yourself for stuff like that happening – you’ve got a lot of rookies and a lot of people without a lot of experience here, and stuff happens really fast.”

In the closing laps of the NextEra Energy Resources 250, Gilliland tried to team up with 2014 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, Matt Crafton for one last push to the end to see if they could catapult themselves in front of the pack and in a position to win. However, as the laps dwindled, the two drivers got separated, and the lead pack stayed single file, hugging the low line. It wasn’t until the last lap everyone started scrambling for positions, and in the end, Gilliland brought the truck home in the sixth position.

“Crafton is a buddy of mine,” Gilliland said. “We were trying to work and trying to work the outside and trying to just figure out how to get some track position, but everybody was so committed and stuck on the bottom. You just couldn’t do anything up top. As a racer, one of the hardest things to do is just sit there and ride in line. You want to go and try and better yourself.”

Further plans for Ricky Benton Racing this season haven’t been announced, but historically, the team enters a good portion of the first few races of the season. Gilliland mentioned on Friday night that he may try to run a few more races with Ricky Benton Racing this season, but with a busy NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, only time will tell.

The one thing that is for sure though is that the small team located near the border of the Carolinas worked hard and captured a great finish on Friday night in Daytona, and that serves as a lot of confidence heading into the remaining races this season knowing that the truck came home in one. As the truck was pushed back to the hauler, there were plenty of celebrations and smiling faces.

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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