Gilliland Earns 1st Career Trucks Win, While Playoff Drivers Have Big Problems Saturday In Martinsvi
The wait is finally over for Todd Gilliland. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver has finally found victory lane. In his 46th career start, Gilliland piloted his No. 4 Toyota to victory in Saturday’s NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 at the Martinsville (VA) Speedway.
Gilliland, led 11 laps all race, but they were the most important ones in being the final 11. He moved Ross Chastain for the lead on Lap 190 and despite Chastain trying to get him back in overtime, Gilliland was able to hold on.
KBM has now swept both races on the .526-mile short oval in 2019 and has won three of the last five races in Martinsville overall.
For Gilliland, the disappointment of not making the playoffs has since waned. He’s had had three top five finishes in-a-row including a runner-up in the last race at Talladega as well.
Chastain would bring his No. 45 Chevrolet home in second for his second runner-up in his last three starts on the season. He’s had four top eight’s in five playoff starts and holds a 20 point advantage on the cutoff spot for the Championship 4.
Last year’s playoff race winner at Martinsville in Johnny Sauter finished third in his No. 13 Ford for his first top five since his win at Dover back in May (14 starts). It was also his fifth top three finish though in his last seven Martinsville starts.
Sauter’s ThorSport Racing teammate of Grant Enfinger would finish fourth in his No. 98 Ford for his sixth top 10 finish in his last eight starts on the season. It was also his third top seven in his last four Martinsville starts.
Timmy Hill made an improbable run to a top five in his No. 56 Chevrolet. Hill’s best finish on the season coming into this weekend was 16th in Charlotte.
The six playoff drivers had interesting days. Stewart Friesen would rebound from a Lap 148 incident with Sauter to finish sixth. He’s +35 in the playoff standings with one race remaining in the second round.
The others weren’t so lucky.
Matt Crafton was the next best finisher in 23rd, but he was eight laps down. He had an engine issue early on in the race while he was set to take the lead. Then, we saw a big crash on Lap 122 which took out the rest of the playoff drivers. 16 year old Sam Mayer tried to squeeze through a gap which wasn’t there and sparked a nine Truck incident. There would be a 15 minute and 38 second red flag for clean up.
Due to all the carnage for playoff drivers, the standings widened out.
Brett Moffitt is +45, Friesen +35, Chastain +20 and Austin Hill +9 heading to Phoenix in two weeks. With Spencer Boyd winning Talladega and Gilliland at Martinsville, we know that three of the six drivers will make it to Homestead on points.
Matt Crafton (-9) and Tyler Ankrum (-15) have some work to do.