DES MOINES, Iowa — The last time Todd Gilliland appeared in the ARCA Racing Series, it was his debut at Toledo Speedway back in May, where the just-turned 15-year-old scored one of the most improbable victories in the recent history of Stock Car racing.
Now the third-generation driver has returned to Venturini Motorsports for the Friday night event at Iowa Speedway where he will work on building his resume, and perhaps, stay perfect in ARCA Racing competition in the #ThisIsMySpeedway150.
Gilliland is the son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland but earned his own headlines by becoming the youngest winner in ARCA history at Toledo, hoisting the trophy at just 15 years and two days.
He won that race by surviving a massive six-car pileup that began at the front of the field when leader Grant Eninger suffered an engine failure coming out of Turn 2 which collected a majority of the leaders. Gilliland was running sixth at the time of the incident, avoided significant damage, and chased down Josh Williams and Tommy Hessert over the final 10 laps en route to ARCA history.
Gilliland called his victory at Toledo “a dream come true” but added that it doesn’t change his expectations or modesty towards Friday night.
“As a driver you want to win every time out but I understand the realities of racing,” Gilliland said. “My expectations are the same as they were before my first race — complete all the laps and gain experience. I’ve got a great team behind me and tough competition ahead of me on the track.
“We’ll do our best and take it one lap at a time.”
Just as it was at Toldeo, the Gilliland effort will be spearheaded by crew chief Jeff McClure. The event will mark the first time that Gilliland has ever raced at Iowa and the 7/8-mile D-shaped oval is also the largest that the Late Model Stock Car contender has ever competed on as well.
“My first laps at Iowa will come on Friday at practice,” Gilliland said. “I hear it’s pretty fast. I’m getting a lot of good advice and will lean on my teammate Brandon Jones quite a bit.
Jones has competed at Iowa in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series over the past calandar year.
“He might not be much older than me but I know he’s had a lot of success and knows his way around Iowa,” Gilliland said. “He’ll be a big help.”
Defending Champion Mitchell To Make Final Start of Season at Home
Defending ARCA champion Mason Mitchell will make his final scheduled start of the season on Friday night at Iowa and has already made the boldest claim of the weekend.
Returning to his childhood home track, the Des Moines native says he must win on Friday night.
“As a driver you want to win every race, but when it’s your home race you want to win it a little bit more,” Mitchell said. “I always put a little bit more pressure on myself when we race at Iowa Speedway because we always have a lot of friends, family and sponsors attending and we want to win for them. Bottom line is we have to win, anything short of winning on Friday will be a disappointment.
Mitchell will drive the No. 78 Karl Chevrolet for Mason Mitchell Motorsports. Karl Chevrolet is a leading Chevrolet dealership in Ankeny, Iowa.
“I can’t thank Karl Chevrolet for stepping up and coming on-board for this weekend,” Mitchell said. “Karl Chevrolet has done a lot for the Des Moines area and it means a lot for me to represent them this weekend at Iowa Speedway.”
The 21-year-old has two previous starts at Iowa, most recently in 2013 when he finished sixth. In two starts Mitchell has two top-10 finishes. Mitchell also made his ARCA debut at his home track back in 2012, making Friday night a full-circle moment for the defending champion.
Austin Wayne Self Looks to Go Back-to-Back
Fresh off of his first career ARCA victory last month at Winchester Speedway, Austin Wayne Self has legitimate momentum heading into the #ThisIsMySpeedway150 on Friday Iowa Speedway.
“Winning at Winchester was absolutely amazing,” Self said. “We worked so hard to get that first win and to be able to do it in front of family and friends was priceless.
“I am looking forward to getting back to Iowa Speedway on Friday. Iowa is a great short track that allows drivers to run multiple grooves. We have been very successful on the short tracks in 2015 and I look forward to continuing that success with Mason Mitchell Motorsports this weekend.”
Self still fancies himself a championship contender with eight races remaining in the ARCA Racing Series season. He is currently fourth and 175 points out of the top spot. His No. 98 Chevrolet won the championship last season with Mason Mitchell so a comeback effort isn’t entirely out of the question if he can catch fire.
Self heads into Iowa Speedway leading the Short Track Challenge point standings by 10 points over Kyle Weatherman. In five short track starts in 2015 Self and the No. 98 team has earned four top-five finishes with six top-10’s.
Self has one prior start at the .875-mile track located in Newton, Iowa. In 2013, he brought home a top-15 finish.
Updated ARCA Championship Standings
- Grant Enfinger Ldr.
- Josh Williams -85
- Tom Hessert -95
- Austin Wayne Self -175
- David Levine -210
- Sarah Cornett-Ching -410
- Bo LeMastus -455
- Thomas Praytor -480
- Bobby Hamilton, Jr. -510
- James Swanson -715
ARCA Iowa Entry List
- Wayne Peterson
- Mike Abram
- Sarah Cornett-Ching
- Josh White
- Bobby Gerhart
- Con Nicolopoulos
- Josh Williams
- Thomas Praytor
- Rick Clifton
- David Sear
- Tom Berte
- Kyle Weatherman
- Grant Enfinger
- Brandon Jones
- J. Fike
- Blake Jones
- Bo LeMastus
- James Swanson
- Matt Tifft
- Ken Schrader
- Matt Kurzejewski
- Todd Gilliland
- Michael Lira
- Mark Meunier
- Will Kimmel
- Tom Hessert
- Mason Mitchell
- Kevin Campbell
- Kevin Hinckle
- Richard Altman
- Austin Wayne Self
- Austin Cindric
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