Todd Gilliland's latest NASCAR Truck Series misfortune came with terrible timing

Todd Gilliland crashed from the lead on Friday night in the NASCAR Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

When it rains, it pours.

That was certainly the case for Todd Gilliland in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night.

The 19-year-old for Kyle Busch Motorsports has been the target of numerous public critiques from his team owner over the past two weeks over to his winless streak since joining the team last season. The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion has said his two full-time drivers ‘ain’t done shit’ and doubled-down on it this weekend by saying youngsters either need to ‘win in our trucks or go home.’

Gilliland responded to the two-week pressure cooker by winning the pole for Friday’s race and leading 31 laps through the first stage and a half.

And then it went terribly wrong, again.

Gilliland spun as the leader on a Lap 68 restart beneath Ben Rhodes. His No. 4 Toyota Tundra snapped around in Turn 2 and went right into the outside retaining wall. The damage was so severe that it immediately eliminated him from the race.

Gilliland was incredulous over how this even happened.

“I tried to hold it wide open in Turns 1 and 2 like you should be able to and I just couldn’t,” Gilliland said. “I felt like my restarts were good all night. I felt like getting ahead of (Rhodes) was the key because if you’re a nose ahead, you’re in a good position, and if you’re a nose behind on the bottom, it’s bad.

“I’ve never got sucked around loose on the bottom before. It sucks. We were so fast and wish we could have gone back out there and finished this one off, given my guys a couple more chances to work on it.” 

Given what Busch has said the past two weeks, is this the worst possible time for Gilliland to have experienced this?

“There’s definitely worse times,” Gilliland said. “There are no good times at any point of the season to have a DNF. We’ll just get after and refocus.”

Making matters worse for the third-generation racer is that he entered the race one point ahead of teammate Harrison Burton for the final provisional playoff spot. That is currently eight in the standings. With the crash, Gilliland is now ninth and 26 points of the position.

Oh, and Greg Biffle won the race, driving the same KBM truck that Busch himself won with five times this spring.

This was the first race that Gilliland has worked with crew chief Wes Ward this season following a personnel shuffle at KBM this past week. The two worked together previously a Ward was labeled the interim crew chief this weekend.

Previous crew chief Marcus Richmond was reassigned to the part-time No. 46 truck.

“I like working with him,” Gilliland said. “He’s a calm guy. I though his changes made us better every time and that’s what you’re looking for.”

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