David Gilliland, Driver No. 38 Ford
Birth Date: April 1, 1976
Birthplace: Riverside, Calif.
Resides: Mooresville, N.C.
Children: Todd and Taylor
Growing up in a race shop as the son of a stock-car driver, David Gilliland was destined
for a career in racing. He spent his early years working on cars in the California shop
of his father, former NASCAR Winston West Series driver Butch Gilliland. Already an
experienced mechanic by his high-school years, Gilliland was named crew chief of his
father’s team at the young age of 19. When the team won the 1997 NASCAR Winston
West Series Championship the following year, Gilliland added Champion Crew Chief of
the Year to his already impressive young résumé.
After spending all that time under the hood, Gilliland soon got the itch to get behind the
wheel. He began competing in 1998 on the dirt track of Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway
and, in seven starts, the rookie stock car driver took the checkered flag twice. Once he
got to experience driving a car into Victory Lane, there was no turning back. Gilliland
drove a full schedule at Perris Auto Speedway the following year, winning 14 of 15 heat
races and nine of the 15 main-event races in the stock car division.
In 2000, Gilliland added the title of team owner to his bio. He put together a late-model
team and ran full-time at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, earning two wins. A year later, he
joined the NASCAR Southwest Tour and continued his winning ways, claiming his first
regional touring race victory in only his fourth start in the series. He continued to turn
heads the following season, earning five wins and finishing in the top 10 of the Southwest
With his impressive abilities, Gilliland never stayed at the same level for very long. He
was always looking ahead for the next challenge. In 2004, while continuing to run in the
Southwest Series, he also tried his hand at the NASCAR Grand National West Series.
It didn’t long for his talents to show through at that level. Before a hometown crowd at
Mesa Marin Raceway, Gilliland drove to Victory Lane in only his second West Series
start. He also captured Rookie of the Year honors with his one win, seven top-5s and
nine top-10s. The following year, he won the West Series’ Toyota All-Star Showdown
– his biggest victory to date. But that win was just a precursor to what would happen the
After 10 years of showcasing his crew chief and driver skills on the West Coast, Gilliland
now had his sights set on top-tier NASCAR racing. So, in 2006, he took his family and
his dreams across the country to Charlotte, N.C. The risky move paid off, as he was soon
hired to drive for Clay Andrews’ NASCAR Nationwide team. The car was unsponsored
and underfunded, so the team only drove a partial schedule. But that didn’t stop Gilliland
from making the biggest splash of the 2006 Nationwide season on June 17 at Kentucky Speedway. That night, the racing world stood up and took notice of the rookie Gilliland when he took the checkered flag and became the first non-Sprint Cup regular to win a
Nationwide race that year.
Thrust into the racing limelight after just seven starts, Gilliland quickly got his chance
to compete at the highest level, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The very week after
the dramatic Kentucky win, owner Bryan Mullet put the red-hot rookie in a Cup ride at
Infineon (Calif.) Raceway, where the team finished 32nd. Gilliland then landed a ride for
the rest of the Sprint Cup season with Robert Yates Racing, where he drove the final 14
races in the No. 38 Ford with support from the Mars family. Just as he had at every other
level of racing, he proved he belonged, capturing one pole and two top-15 finishes.
Gilliland returned to Yates for his first full-time season in 2007, and started off the year
with a bang when he captured the pole for the Daytona 500. He went on to earn one top-
five and two top-10 finishes for the year. He matched that record in his second full-time
season for Yates in 2008 with another top-five and two top-10s.
The 2009 season brought a move to TRG Motorsports, a race team with a history of
success on the sports car circuit but relatively new to the NASCAR garage. Gilliland
made 25 starts for the young team, some of which were cut short by mechanical issues.
During the final nine races of the season, Gilliland split time in TRG’s No. 71 Chevrolet
with former Sprint Cup Champion Bobby Labonte. When Gilliland wasn’t in the 71,
he picked up rides with Robby Gordon Motorsports, Wood Brothers Racing, Joe Gibbs
Racing and Phoenix Racing.
The accomplished driver was exactly what Front Row Motorsports needed in 2010. The
team was young but quickly expanding, and owner Bob Jenkins pursued Gilliland to put
him behind the wheel of the No. 38 Taco Bell Ford. Joining Front Row gave Gilliland
some stability and also familiarity, reuniting him with Ford and former Yates teammate
Despite the fact that the team was assembled just a few weeks before the season-opening
Daytona 500, Gilliland and his crew regularly put a fast car on the track and produced
strong results in their first year together. He earned three top-20 finishes and laid a good
foundation with crew chief Peter Sospenzo for their return to the Taco Bell Fusion in
Kicking off his second season with Front Row, Gilliland started off the 2011 campaign
with a stunning third-place finish at the Daytona 500 – a feat he said was just as big as his
Kentucky Nationwide win. Gilliland and his team went on to capture a total of one top-
five, two top-10, three top-15 and four top-20 finishes on the season, making his mark on
superspeedways and road courses in particular.
Gilliland returns to Front Row and his original No. 38 Ford in 2012 to build on his
accomplishments. The veteran driver in the stable, Gilliland is a vital member of this
still-growing team and looks to further make his mark in the Sprint Cup Series in 2012 and beyond.