Given how many sons follow their fathers into racing, it’s not that much of a surprise that Todd Gilliland has followed in the footsteps of his father, Sprint Cup driver David Gilliland, and grandfather Butch Gilliland, who raced in the former Winston Cup Series.
But what IS surprising is how successful the third-generation racer is already, and at such a young age.
In his first-ever Late-Model Stock Car (LMSC) race Friday night at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C. (northeast of Greensboro), the 13-year-old Gilliland finished second in his No. 98 Ford.
A few minutes later after crossing the finish line, Gilliland went out and competed in another race at the track, a 40-lap Limited Late Model event, and finished second again.
Let’s recap all that, because it deserves repeating:
* Gilliland finished second in his late-model racing debut in a 75-lap race.
* After that race, he went out in a 40-lap Limited Late-Model and finished second again.
* He’s only 13 years old!
Oh, yes, one more pertinent bit of information:
* He’s an eighth-grader!
In the 75-lap event, if he would have had a few more laps, Todd might have wound up winning, given the impressive way he worked his way up through the pack from his eighth-place qualifying position in the 75-lap event at the .4-mile track.
Falling back to 14th in the opening laps, Gilliland began moving up, reaching third 52 laps in, and was second by Lap 60.
He came within a few car lengths of the eventual winner, but just couldn’t reach the point in time.
And for an encore, he finished runner-up in the LLM race, as well.
“I’m really happy with how I did,” the young Gilliland said in a team media release. “In the first race, I was mad that I fell back so far, but my car was really fast so I was able to get back up to the front pretty good.
“I’m just really thankful for all the help my mom and dad and Chris (crew chief Chris Lawson) have given me. This is what I really want to do and it’s been awesome.”
Including a LLM race he competed in last November at Myrtle Beach, S.C., Todd has three runner-up finishes in as many starts.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski