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NASCAR Teleconference Transcript: An Interview with David Gilliland
The moderator: We've been joined give David Gilliland, very happy to have him on the call. This has been his week. He won this past week at Kentucky Speedway in the NASCAR Busch Series race. David is going to be trying to make his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup start at Sonoma where he has some history, 2004, David won there in the NASCAR Southwest Series. He also won the 2005 Toyota All Star Showdown at Irwindale, California, which was his biggest victory to date prior to this past Saturday night of course. David, three days later, are you still feeling pretty excited about what happened Saturday night at Kentucky?
David Gilliland: Oh, yeah, this morning I woke up and asked myself if it was all true. It's been a dream come true for us. We've worked our whole lives for that and an opportunity like this. It's just really opened a lot of doors for us I think. It's just been great for our team. We've been running unsponsored and hopefully this will help bring some attention our way.
The moderator: You really held them off down the stretch there, and it was actually toward the latter stages of this race it was almost looking easy up there, but I know it wasn't easy.
David Gilliland: Yeah, it's not easy. We build our own motors and do a lot of that stuff. Since we're a new team, running against those guys is never easy, but from the lap that we unloaded our race car there at Kentucky, our car was really, really good from the first lap. We fine tuned it a little bit and it was just a perfect weekend. You know, the car was really good, and I adapted very well to the track, even though I've never even seen it before Friday. So we adapted very well and everything just went our way.
Q.: This attempt to qualify for the Cup race this weekend, was that something that you had already planned on doing before your victory, and is this your first attempt to make a NEXTEL Cup race?
David Gilliland: Yes, it is Â¿ it is something that I've had planned prior. I've had it planned for probably about a month and a half now. We've been working on the car and we're looking forward to really going to Sonoma again. I ran pretty good there in some Southwest Tour stuff. We had a victory and I'm really looking forward to going back there. Yes, it is my first NEXTEL Cup attempt and hopefully, you know, with everything last weekend, we'll be able to go out there. We've got a lot of interviews lined up. It was really good. Everything kind of worked out really good and good timing to be there.
Q.: If you could address now Jerry Nadeau was able to help you with last week's win, and also does that win in the Busch Series help you gain any sponsorship or needed dollars for this weekend at the NEXTEL Cup race?
David Gilliland: Jerry Nadeau has helped me a bunch. Clay Andrews, who I drive for, is my Busch car owner. He hired Jerry to be a coach and to go to a lot of these tracks that I've never been to. He's really helped me a lot to give me a lot of little pointers.I can't put enough emphasis on how important it is to have a guy like Jerry at a track. We go out and practice at a place like Kentucky, and I can go five laps, put my window down, reach out and ask him a question and have an answer in two minutes, because he's been there and done that. So it's really been great and I think, you know, he's part of our Â¿ such rapid success with our team. It's been really great having a guy like that. He's got a lot of experience and he's really helped me a lot.
Q.: Did that win help you gain anything as far as sponsorship or any other needed items for this week's attempt in the NEXTEL Cup?
David Gilliland: This week for the NEXTEL Cup I'm driving for a different team, it's CMJ Racing, not Clay Andrews Racing. So really they already had their stuff kind of set aside for the Nextel Cup weekend. But for our Busch Series team, it has drawn a lot of attention and we've gotten a lot of phone calls, and hopefully we can secure something to go on the side of our race car so we don't have to run it there anymore.
Q.: Talk a little about your dad, people who haven't been around the sport or a long Â¿ probably don't know a lot about them, but talk about him and the influence, his influence on you as far as your racing career goes.
David Gilliland: He really helped me a lot when I was younger. I grew up around racing, so I thank him very much for that obviously and being around it every week from the first time as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to race and growing up around him racing he give me the ability to work on the cars and go to the track and kind of learn how things work.Then when I was 18, I split away and did my own thing. I started racing for somebody else and got my own deal going. But he's always there to Â¿ he don't come to a lot of the races but he's a phone call away and always calls when we do something. He's always there to support us.
Q.: He really captured what Southwest Racing really was; is there something to there that mentality that you absorbed from watching him pretty much as an independent try to break into the big leagues of NASCAR?
David Gilliland: Absolutely. He won the championship in 1997. I was his crew chief at that time. That was a big deal for us. The reason we got there was because of hard work and determination, and that is one thing that I got from him. And always Â¿ he always told me: You know if you work hard enough, you can get anything you want with hard work. Our win on Saturday night was a true testament to that, I feel. Our team didn't win because we spent the most money and didn't win because we had the most horsepower, we didn't win because of our pit stops. We won because everybody on our team is 150 percent dedicated to what they do and our race team. It's good for NASCAR to show that hard work and a little guy can still come through and get it done.
Q.: Your car has it been through the wind tunnel a lot, sort of where it did come from and what have you done to it?
David Gilliland: The car we raced out there, when we got started, we moved into our race shop here in North Carolina on January 15 of this year and we bought four used cars, and this particular car we bought was from Michael Waltrip Racing. It has not been to the wind tunnel. We have a local guy here in North Carolina put a body on it for us and we've just kind of massaged on it and fine tuned the best we could on it.
It's pretty amazing, actually. Chevrolet called us today and told us we won there Â¿ the race we won this weekend was their 300th Busch Series win. So big as it was for me to get my first win, it was big for Chevrolet to get their 300th win. They stepped up and they can help our team a little bit more and possibly give us some opportunity to go to the wind tunnel. So we're excited about doing that, and we think we will be able to make our program better with it. But as of, you know, prior to now, we have not been able to do that.
The moderator: Some quick stats on Butch Gilliland, David's dad. He made 10 starts in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup between 90 and '99. He made 12 in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series between '95 and '97. As was mentioned, he was the 1997 NASCAR West Series Champion.
Q.: Can you talk about how you and Clay Andrews got together, what was that like, and stuff like that.
David Gilliland: I had raced against them. He started with the Grand National West Team last year and they ran one race and they ran really good and they caught my attention. They actually qualified second and I qualified third, and I was pretty impressed with their operation and for them to just be able to come in and do this.
So at that time we were running the full series. Towards the end of the year I had heard that they let their driver go and I gave Clay a call and he never called me back. I just continued on racing at Marin in Bakersfield, California, and I won the final race there, the final October Classic and Clay was there in the stands. Well, he called me Sunday morning the day after and asked me to drive for him. And ever since then, we've had a really good relationship and he's given me a good opportunity here. I brought a lot of my guys to his team and together we've been able to accomplish quite a bit.
Q.: Does the victory and everything surrounding it, does it change any of the Busch plans later in the year, or are you adding any races, anything like that?
David Gilliland: We'd like to add races, but like I said, Clay Andrews has been doing this deal out of his pocket for seven months. And our original plan was to run 20 races and that's kind of what we're sticking to as of right now, unless we can get sponsorship, which you know hopefully will happen. We've got a lot of attention from this win, and it's been a pretty big deal, bigger than I ever imagined.
Q.: Have you gotten any phone calls from any maybe NEXTEL Cup owners or anything like that yet?
David Gilliland: Yeah, I have, actually. I've gotten some pretty good phone calls, pretty neat. You know, you race your whole life for an opportunity and to try and succeed in NASCAR racing. To see it all coming true before your eyes is a pretty amazing sight.
Q.: You must have learned a lot with the Busch win. Do you believe the driver learning curve ever has an end point?
David Gilliland: No, I don't. I think for me it don't anyway. Every time I race, I learn something. For instance, the week before, a month before, we went to Lowe's Motor Speedway and we missed the race. We missed the race, but we learned something and we took that to Kansas and we won.Every time you race, you learn. And that's what I like about racing against the NEXTEL Cup guys in the Busch Series is that it pushes you to learn more and it's made me a better driver, and that's why I race, to be the best driver I can be. So racing against them guys and learning every week we race, that's what it's all about.
Q.: We were trying to figure out actually which short tracks around the inland empire of southern California you had raced on, so I was going to ask you if there was any you haven't raced on around the area?
David Gilliland: No, I mean, we've raced Â¿ El Cajon, Orange Show, Bakersfield, Irwindale, the dirt tracks, we raced Imperial Speedway (ph), we raced quite a bit of them out there, dirt and asphalt.
Q.: And the other thing I was wondering is some of you brought up talking about the setups of the car. I mean, how much involvement do you have being a former crew chief, do you have any say in when you guys are trying to work on stuff at the shop?
David Gilliland: Absolutely. I'm there every day working on the cars with the guys, and that's what's made our deal pretty good I think is that Billy Willburn, my crew chief, he's very smart and very knowledgeable. But he also puts a lot of trust in me, and he knows that I know a little bit about what's going on on the cars; so that when I tell him information in the car, he never second guesses me and I don't have second guess him. We have 100% trust in each other, and that's what's made our team so strong so quickly.
The moderator: David, thank you for joining us. I know it's an exciting time for you and we appreciate you sharing some of that time with us.
David Gilliland: No problem. Thank you for having me. I hope to be back again soon.
The moderator: Best of luck this weekend. And I don't think anybody would be surprised if we didn't have you back on a call in the future after a similar success.