A look ahead to Friday night’s PPG 400 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and Saturday night’s SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Truck Series races at Texas Motor Speedway. The PPG 400 will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 8 p.m. CT and also on SiriusXM Radio (Channel 90), the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and locally on 95.9 FM The Ranch. The SST races will be televised at a later date.
FORT WORTH, Texas (June 5, 2018) – Having only recently graduated to racing on mile-and-a-half tracks, it’s fitting that NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Todd Gilliland will be donning a cap and gown Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 18-year-old, third-generation NASCAR driver will walk across the PPG 400 pre-race stage, where Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage will conduct the commencement ceremony and present Gilliland with his diploma for completing all of his required high school credits.
“People always ask how it is to balance school and racing. Just to be able to finish it off and go full-time racing that’s what I can’t wait for,” said Gilliland, who is driving the No. 4 entry for Kyle Busch Motorsports. “Just to have it here, at Texas … it’s going to be fun weekend for us. We have a lot of family coming out for it; my mom is pretty pumped.”
Gilliland recently completed his online courses in order to receive his degree this Friday. He will become the fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver in the last five years to “graduate” and then race at Texas Motor Speedway on the same day. The other drivers include Erik Jones (2014), Cole Custer (’16) and Noah Gragson (’17).
“My mom is definitely way more excited than I am. I’m just happy to be done,” Gilliland said. “My dad and I are just excited to come out here and have another shot at a mile-and-a-half track.”
Todd is the son of David Gilliland, a NASCAR journeyman who now competes part-time in the Cup and Truck series. David also is the part owner of DGR-Crosley, which competes in NASCAR’s truck series, K&N Pro Series East and ARCA Racing Series. Todd is also the grandson of Butch Gilliland, who raced in NASCAR during the 1990s.
“The last two years, (my dad) has been my spotter in the K&N Series, but this year has been a little bit different of a dynamic with him having his own truck team and us competing against him,” Todd said. “But he’s always still there to help me out. He has a lot of experience on these (1.5-mile) tracks. That’s what it’s all about is utilizing anyone you can to be the best that you can.”
The PPG 400 will be Todd’s first career start at Texas. He was forced to miss four of the first six races of the season because of a NASCAR rule that restricts drivers under the age of 18 to only compete on oval tracks that are 1.25 miles or less in length.
Todd turned 18 on May 15, allowing him to compete on the 1.5-mile oval three days later at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he finished a respectable 10th. But he’ll need to flip his tassel the other side of his mortarboard before he can show off his skills at Texas Motor Speedway.
“When my mom graduated high school, she was really sad and going to miss all her friends and stuff,” Todd said. “My dad was the same as me, I just want to go racing.”
FOUR QUESTIONS WITH NCWTS DRIVER TODD GILLILAND (VIDEO)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Todd Gilliland of Kyle Busch Motorsports talks about his first car (yes, it was a Barbie car), high school graduation at Texas Motor Speedway and being a third-generation NASCAR driver (2 minutes).
PPG SECURES NCWTS RACE ENTITLEMENT
PPG has signed an agreement to serve as the race entitlement sponsor of Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The race (167 laps, 250.5 miles) will be re-branded the PPG 400 and opens the diverse tripleheader weekend that features races in the Verizon IndyCar Series and SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks in addition to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the world-renowned motorsports facility in Fort Worth.
PPG, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., has been a global supplier and leader of paints, coatings, optical products and specialty materials for more than 130 years. Founded in 1883 as Pittsburgh Plate Glass by Captain John B. Ford and John Pitcairn in Pittsburgh, PPG now boasts 156 manufacturing facilities worldwide, including 45 across 19 states in the U.S.
Through leadership in innovation, sustainability and color, PPG helps customers in industrial, transportation, consumer products, and construction markets and aftermarkets to enhance more surfaces in more ways than any other company.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series made its debut nearly a quarter-century ago in 1995. Coming into the 2018 season, only five drivers had ever won three of the first seven races. Johnny Sauter became the sixth with his win in Charlotte on May 18.
The other drivers to accomplish the feat are Kyle Busch (2011, ’14), Matt Crafton (’15), Mike Skinner (1995, ’96, ’07), Ron Hornaday Jr. (’95) and Ted Musgrave (’01).
He will join even more elite company if he’s able to find Sunoco Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway in Friday night’s PPG 400. The four-time Texas winner, including two of the last three races, will join Busch and Skinner as the only three drivers in series history to win half of the season’s schedule through the first eight races.
Sauter is off to a terrific start to the season. Including his three wins (Daytona, Dover and Charlotte), Sauter has finished inside the top five in all but one race and has yet to start a race outside the top 10.
With a win in Friday night’s PPG 400, Sauter will equal his win total from a year ago, which was his career high for a single season.
“Texas is becoming one of my favorite places on earth,” Sauter said after his win last November. “I haven’t been this pumped up in a long, long time.”
DID YOU KNOW?
A NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver has not won a race from the pole at Texas Motor Speedway since June of 2007. Todd Bodine was the last to accomplish the feat while becoming the fifth overall to do so at Texas.
JOHNNY’S SPOT WITH NO WELCOME ‘MATT’
While there’s been an influx of youth in the Camping World Truck Series over the last few years, don’t expect a pair of wily veterans to simply pull off to the side for the youngsters. Johnny Sauter, 40, and Matt Crafton, 41, remain two of the series’ most consistent talents, combining to win three of the last five championships.
Sauter, who won last November’s truck series race at Texas Motor Speedway, was the only driver in the top five that was old enough to rent a vehicle. It was the second consecutive fall race win and fourth of his career in Fort Worth for Sauter, who sits atop the point standings heading into Friday night’s PPG 400.
Crafton, who has gotten off to an uncharacteristically slow start this season, has more Texas starts (34) than any other driver in the series and is a two-time race winner in the Lone Star State. He has finished inside the top 10 for 13 consecutive races, nine of those being top fives.
MOFFITT FINDS A HOME … FINALLY
For some, winning rookie of the year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has proved to be the first chapter in a long story of success. For Brett Moffitt, it was the first and only chapter of a book that never had a chance to be written.
Three years after winning 2015 rookies honors in the MENCS, the native of Grimes, Iowa, has found a home in the Camping World Truck Series. Through seven races, Moffitt already has visited Victory Lane once, has a pair of third-place finishes, and a fourth driving the No. 16 Toyota for Hattori Racing Enterprises. He currently is third in the NCWTS standings, 65 points behind the leader Johnny Sauter.
Moffitt ran 34 of 35 races – finishing all but one – in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2015, driving the No. 55 Toyota for the now-defunct Michael Waltrip Racing and the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports. He was replaced by 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Chris Buescher in the No. 34 for 2016, leaving Moffitt without a full-time ride for the last two years.
Moffitt’s crew chief this season is Scott Zipadelli, the brother of Greg Zipadelli, who guided Tony Stewart to the NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2002 and ‘05.
JOE KNOWS TEXAS
While his son John Hunter Nemechek will be racing in the Xfinity Series in Michigan this weekend, 54-year-old Joe Nemechek will be up on the wheel at Texas Motor Speedway in Friday night’s PPG 400.
A full-time owner and part-time driver in the NCWTS and NXS, “Front Row Joe” has seen it all at Texas Motor Speedway. In his TMS debut back in 1997, Nemechek narrowly avoided a first-lap wreck and went on to finish 29th; in 2003 he got his only win while running an Xfinity Series race; and he started fourth in the track’s first fall Cup race in 2005.
Though his Camping World Truck Series resume is a bit shorter at Texas, he’s run well here, finishing in the top 10 in three of four starts.
All told, Nemechek has started 46 races at TMS across NASCAR’s three national series with nine top 10s and a win.
The last four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champions all won at Texas Motor Speedway in the respective year in which they took home the title.
Year Driver TMS Win
2017 Christopher Bell June
2016 Johnny Sauter November
2015 Erik Jones November
2014 Matt Crafton June
Prior to Crafton in 2014, this feat had only been achieved four times by three drivers: Todd Bodine (2006 , ’10), Jack Sprague (’01) and Greg Biffle (’00).
If it wasn’t for Matt Brabham’s curiosity and a schedule conflict for former Indy-car star Paul Tracy, the young Australian may have never known how successful he could be in the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks Series.
While chasing his dream of being a full-time driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series, the third-generation, open-wheel driver stumbled across the series in 2015 while at the INDYCAR race week in Toronto.
While chasing his dream of being a full-time driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series, the third-generation open-wheel pilot stumbled across the series in 2015 while at the INDYCAR race week in Toronto.
“Well, I first saw the Stadium Super Trucks while driver coaching in Toronto for the INDYCAR street race,” recalled Brabham, the son of former Indy-car driver Geoff and grandson of three-time Formula One champion Sir Jack. “I was completely blown away by how crazy and fun they looked to race. I approached the main guys with the series and asked a lot of questions about how I could become involved. Later on I got a call – Paul Tracy was supposed to drive a truck but unfortunately had TV commitments and couldn’t make it so they asked if I could be there in the next 15 minutes to jump in.
“I’ve been racing in the series ever since.”
Brabham ran just seven races in 2015 and opted to go full-time in the series a year later while still pursuing a full-time ride in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He got a break that year where he competed in the Indy 500 as well as the INDYCAR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for PIRTEK Team Murray, but those were the only two races scheduled for the team.
The 24-year-old Aussie continued to learn and develop in the series and quickly found himself in championship contention. In 2016, he finished runner-up in the championship to his teammate Sheldon Creed. Last year, he recorded five wins and finished runner-up in the championship by one point to Paul Morris.
With unfinished business of winning a Stadium SUPER Trucks championship, he has his No. 83 DeVilbiss entry in championship contention once again, leading the championship standings by 59 points.
Brabham and the SPEED Energy SUPER Truck Series drivers will hit the track for an opening practice 30 minutes following the checkered flag of the PPG 400 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday evening, June 8.
The series will have two races Saturday, one prior to the DXC Technology 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race beginning at 5:15 p.m. and the finale beginning 30 minutes following the checkered flag for the INDYCAR event.
Brabham will give media a little taste of his talents when he serves as the special driver during Thursday morning’s Stadium SUPER Truck media ride-alongs from 7-9 a.m.
RAISING A RUCKUS
For the second consecutive year, Texas Motor Speedway will feature an expo and interactive area for off-road enthusiasts during the DXC Technology 600 tripleheader weekend.
The Outdoor Powersports Off-Road Ruckus will be situated in the infield area adjacent to Turn 2 for enthusiasts of jeeps, trucks, utility terrain vehicles and buggies, among others.
The Ruckus will feature a public obstacle course to run your own off-road vehicles, Monster Truck exhibitions, Monster Truck tug of war competition, various exhibitors and displays, and tons of promotional giveaways throughout the weekend.
The Texas Off-Road Ruckus will be held Friday and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. Admission to the area is free with a race ticket purchase for that coinciding day.