Thirteen-year-old Todd Gilliland earned his first late model win Friday night at Ace Speedway (Altamahaw, N.C.) in just his seventh start in a stock car. The win came after a day of sweeping the top spots in the event's practice sessions and earning the pole.
The David Gilliland Racing driver started from the third position in the 40-lap Limited Late Model race after the top three cars were inverted after qualifying. It was Gilliland's first pole in a stock car.
The eighth-grader from Sherrills Ford, N.C., didn't take long to push his No. 98 Ford up to the front, taking the second spot within the first 10 laps and then taking the lead with 24 to go.
Despite a red flag that halted action around the half-way point, the young driver stayed focused and kept his car clean.
"I just had to be smart and patient the whole race," Gilliland said. "I needed to stay calm and take my time, because I knew if I wrecked, I was done.
"I just wish my dad (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland) had been there, but he's in Talladega (Ala.). I couldn't wait to talk to him after. I want to be just like him when I grow up."
The teenager is now leading the points in both Limited Late Models and Late Model Stock Cars at the 4/10-mile track and has finished in the top three in his last five starts.
The No. 98 Ford team has support from Norfleet Developments, Country Chevrolet, Eibach Springs, Performance Racing Warehouse and Gear Tech.
Follow the team's season at ToddGilliland.com and on Twitter at @ToddGilliland_.
Todd Gilliland Earns First Late Model Win and Pole
13-Year-Old Driver Leads Practices and Qualifying, Takes Checkers
Gilliland Team PR
Todd Gilliland took the pole and the win at Ace Speedway in Limited Late Model action. (Team PR Photo)