Todd Gilliland is only 19 but that hasn’t stopped team owner Kyle Busch from publicly telling him he needs to step up or face being replaced.
Gilliland drives the #4 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, the upper of upper echelon NASCAR Truck Series teams. Winning races and contending for championships isn’t something that is hoped for, it’s expected. Gilliland so far has not lived up to the expectations KBM has for him. In fact he hasn’t lived up to the expectations anyone has had for him.
When you look at Gilliland’s rise you’d look at him the same way Ray Evernham looked at Casey Atwood. He’s unanimously been the #1 prospect on a number of lists the last two years. Yet here we are.
“I don’t know how many times last year we were in meetings and I was just yelling at him about let’s go,” Busch said this past weekend in Atlanta. “Our stuff is not that slow. You have got to get up on top of the wheel and make it happen.
In 27 starts with KBM Gilliland has recorded 13 Top-10’s and 6 Top-5’s with zero wins. Those are respectable numbers for the Stewart Friesen’s of the world. Those are pedestrian numbers for someone in KBM equipment. Especially when you think about the fact there are only 32 trucks and the number of competitive trucks is around 12.
Kyle didn’t mince words either. “If you want to be a star in this sport, you better perform in KBM stuff – if you don’t
Gilliland has always performed though, what is so different now? When you look back at Gilliland’s career in lower series like K&N (19 wins combined) and ARCA (1 win) he’s driving for the best teams. We’re talking factory-backed Toyota teams in series other manufacturers barely throw two nickels at. When that happens really good equipment can make drivers look better than they might actually be. Their flaws are hidden behind how good the equipment is.
Some will say it’s a growing process. Valid point, Gilliland hasn’t faced competition of this level in his career. He’s always been the fastest driver in the fastest car. Now he has a number of guys in trucks as good as him who are also as talented as him. Like a star high school football player going to the SEC it’s sink or swim, all these boys can play. Question is will Gilliland keep his head above water or be casted out?
Word is out now. Kyle Busch expects more out of Todd Gilliland and if that doesn’t happen Toyota has a number of guys they can move into that seat. Christian Eckes and Chandler Smith are collecting trophies in ARCA, they’d like to pilot that #4 truck surely.
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