Race Recap: Daytona International Speedway
David Gilliland, No. 17 Fred's Toyota Tundra
Race Result: 13th
Race Recap: David Gilliland was relegated to a 13th-place finish in Friday's NextEra 250 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway after being caught up in a race-ending incident on lap 100.
Gilliland's No. 17 Fred's Toyota Tundra was strong from the get-go at Daytona. While most of the field opted to form a pack in first practice, Gilliland only made single-truck runs which resulted in being scored 18th on the speed chart. During final practice, he posted a best lap time of 46.666 seconds, ranking fourth on the speed chart. Gilliland felt confident in his Tundra going into qualifying. During qualifying, he advanced to Round Two where he went on to earn a second-place starting position with a lap time of 49.391 seconds.
When the green flag flew, chaos ensured almost immediately for both DGR-Crosley Tundras. Gilliland hit a piece of debris off the No. 51 truck which resulted in a flat tire almost immediately. Gilliland brought his No. 17 Fred's truck to pit road to be serviced and was able to maintain a lead lap position. By the end of Stage One, Gilliland had worked himself back up to the 11th position and reported that he was very happy with how his Toyota Tundra was handling. He finished 4th in Stage Two and brought his truck down pit road to be serviced under the stage-ending caution. In the final stage of the competition, Gilliland and his son Todd Gilliland battled for the lead for several laps. The elder Gilliland charged to the lead and maintained that position until he was called to pit road under caution. The No. 17 team was penalized for passing the pace car under caution which resulted in NASCAR officials holding Gilliland on pit road for one lap of green flag racing. Gilliland was able to get his lap back after a single truck spin but was collecting in an accident just a few laps later. The team made repairs and sent him back out on the track where he restared 10th. With only 11 trucks on the lead lap, another "big one" occurred at Daytona, in which Gilliland was collected in. His Toyota Tundra burst into flames, and he was unable to continue, resulting in a 13th-place finish.
Gilliland on Daytona: "Obviously I'm disappointed in how tonight played out, but that's superspeedway racing. The DGR-Crosley guys brought me a really fast Tundra. There's no doubt in my mind that we had the fastest truck out there. I can't tell you how proud I am of everyone in the shop that puts so much time and effort into our program - disappointed that we couldn't get a better finish for them. Thanks to Fred's, Valvoline, Conair, Maxell and Toyota for the support. Not the way that we wanted the season to start, but we are already shifting our focus to Atlanta."
Natalie Decker, No. 54 N29 Technologies Toyota Tundra
Race Result: 32nd
Race Recap: Natalie Decker's Gander Outdoors Truck Series did not end the way she had hoped when a flat time in the opening laps of the NextEra 250 ended her night early resulting in a 32nd-place finish.
Decker used both practice sessions on Thursday afternoon to get comfortable behind the wheel of a Toyota Tundra. After reporting her truck was unstable during first practice, her No. 54 N29 Technologies team was able to make adjustments and get it tuned-up for final practice. Decker stayed out of the pack for both practice session but practiced drafting with her teammate, David Gilliland. She ended the final practice session in the 20th position with a best lap time of 48.625 seconds. During qualifying, Decker advanced to the final round and earned a 9th-place starting position in Friday's NextEra 250.
When the green flag flew, problems arose for Decker almost immediately. A piece of debris resulted in a flat left front tire for the Gander Outdoors rookie contender. When the tire went down, it broke a brake line in her Toyota Tundra which resulted in massive flames. Her night was ended after one lap of green flag racing at Daytona.
Decker will be back in the No. 54 N29 Technologies Toyota Tundra next week at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Decker on Daytona: "It's really heartbreaking that our night ended the way it did. I wanted to get a good finish here and get our season started off on the right foot. Unfortunately, it didn't pan out that way. I'm not sure what happened. We hit the same piece of debris that everyone else did, but when I lost my left front tire, the brake line broke, and the truck burst into flames. Really thankful for my guys for getting me out safely and for all their hard work this weekend. Hopefully, we will be able to get DGR-Crosley and N29 Technologies a better finish next weekend in Atlanta."
Gilliland, No. 17 Toyota Tundra Decker, No. 54 Toyota Tundra
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