NASCAR: Sprint Cup vet David Gilliland to run Truck Series opener at Daytona

Leave a comment

David Gilliland’s Daytona Speedweeks will get busier now that he’s set to take part in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ season opener on Feb. 20.

Gilliland, who drives full-time for Front Row Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series, will seek to make only his fourth career Truck Series start in the NextEra Energy Resources 250. He will drive the No. 92 Ricky Benton Racing Ford F-150.

In a release, Gilliland noted that colleagues at Roush-Yates Motors and RBR put him in touch with Benton when word got out that he needed a driver for the Daytona truck race.

“With me running a full-time season with Front Row in Cup, it was important that any opportunity to run in any other series be with a Ford team,” Gilliland said. “Ricky actually called me when I was out of the country on vacation, so we played a bit of phone tag before finally putting the deal together.”

Gilliland has also tweeted:

Benton himself says that his team was “very fortunate” to get Gilliland’s services for one of the Truck Series’ biggest events of the year.

“Everyone in the garage goes into Daytona with a lot of optimism and high expectations,” Benton said. “Sometimes, those expectations are justified and sometimes not. We have high expectations and I believe in my heart that we can win with the combination we have put together.”

Mike Hester will serve as Gilliland’s crew chief on the No. 92 Ford, which has support from BTS Tire and Wheel Distributors, Goodyear FleetHQ, Wynn’s, and Tim Cooksey Oil Company.

RBR ran eight events in the Truck Series last year with four drivers: Ross Chastain, Austin Hill, Corey LaJoie, and Scott Riggs. All of them competed for RBR in two races each.

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

Leave a comment

Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”