Race Weekend Central

2010 NASCAR Driver Review: David Gilliland

David Gilliland

2010 Rides: Nos. 37/38 Front Row Motorsports Ford, No. 49 BAM Racing Toyota (Daytona 500)
2010 Primary Sponsors: Taco Bell (Nos. 38), Warner Bros. Music (No. 49)
2010 Owners: Bob Jenkins (Nos. 37/38), Beth Ann Morgenthau (No. 49)
2010 Crew Chiefs: Randy Seals, Peter Sospenzo (Nos. 37/38), Samuel Stanley (No. 49)
2010 Stats: 32 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 0 poles, 32nd in points

High Point: After the No. 38 team fell out of the Top 35 in owner points following a penalty for tire bleeder valves at Pocono, the driving assignment going forward fell to Gilliland over rookie Kevin Conway and fellow veteran Travis Kvapil. He was the one trusted to qualify the car week after week, forced to get FRM’s third Ford back into a locked-in position after that devastating 150-point reduction.

And over the summer months, with the No. 26 team treading water doing driver by committee while Robby Gordon‘s No. 7 start-and-parked a number of races, Gilliland and crew did exactly that. At one point, they moved to within 100 markers of that final locked-in spot following a stellar 20th-place run for the team at Fontana. One of Gilliland’s home tracks, the result was not only his best on an oval in 2010, it provided ample momentum for the Front Row organization, reaffirming they were moving in the right direction with their setups.

That momentum would carry on for weeks until the No. 38 car missed the field at Talladega without Gilliland behind the wheel.

Low Point: For all of the races that Gilliland had to race his way into the field on time in 2010, he missed only one show, but it was a big one. Failing to qualify for the Brickyard 400 was one of only four races the team missed in all of 2010, and all the more painfully it was among the biggest paydays – short of the Daytona 500 – to miss out on. Gilliland also missed that race, too, the one time he competed in a Cup car outside of FRM in 2010. Never really competitive throughout Speedweeks, he failed to put BAM Racing’s No. 49 car into the field in their first race attempt since the spring of 2008.

Summary: Gilliland’s career at the NASCAR level has been nothing short of journeyman, and the 2010 season was a perfect microcosm of that. Jumping from team to team at Front Row, often being the driver to take over for whatever car happened to be out of the Top 35, Gilliland played utility for the organization that went out of their way less than a month before the season opener at Daytona to start a third team and reunite him with former Yates Racing stablemate Kvapil.

See also
What Money Can't Buy, Front Row Motorsports is Banking On for the Future

And for what the 2010 season amounted to be for FRM, a battle for survival after the departure of Conway and his sponsorship dollars, Gilliland played an invaluable role for the team both making races and providing a baseline working alongside with Kvapil. The stats sheet doesn’t show the progress that the team really made in 2010.

Team Ranking: First. Gilliland proved Front Row’s best qualifier and was responsible for top-20 runs at both Sonoma and Fontana that were the team’s best not scored on a restrictor-plate track. Signing him in the 25th hour to drive a third car was about the best move FRM made all year.

2011 Outlook: A lot of Gilliland’s outlook depends on whether or not FRM opts to go back to a two-car model for the 2011 season, as both Gilliland and Kvapil have advocated for. The two teammates both trust each other’s feedback strongly and with FRM working towards a uniform chassis program throughout the second half of 2010, the opportunity is there for the team to move to being a consistent top-25 outfit this coming season.

However, should they opt to try and run three cars in an attempt to crack the Top 35 and make the Daytona 500, the chance is there for the organization to overstretch its limited resources once again. That won’t bode well for Gilliland, Kvapil or any other driver in the stable.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: N/A
2007 Grade: D
2008 Grade: D
2009 Grade: C
2010 Grade: B-

About the author

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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