After a series of controversial events, Todd Gilliland withdrew from the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 Late Model Stock race on Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.
First, Gilliland failed post-qualifying inspection for a camber violation.
That meant he would have had to start in the back of his 25-lap heat race, in which he would have needed to make the top-10 to advance.
However, it was the ongoing debate about engine parity that ultimate forced his team to withdraw from the event. On Saturday morning, race director Lynn Carroll opted to add 15 pounds of weight to each side of cars running the Harrington Enforcer engine.
The reason was that eight of the top-10 qualifiers used the HRE engine and Carroll wanted to ensure parity before the start of racing activities. He had told all teams before practice day during a driver’s meeting that he reserved the right to make changes to gear and weight in the name of parity.
David Gilliland was recording the Saturday meeting with his phone and Carroll kicked him out when the former Cup Series driver refused to stop recording it.
There was also debate about teams having the ability to make changes beyond tires and fuel during the scheduled breaks, Carroll not wanting to allow it before relenting when teams insisted they should be able. It’s also worth noting that non-HRE equipped teams had no problem with the qualifying times, many of them believing they were better in the corners, even if the Harrigtons have better straight-line speed, that the SPEC engines are better in the corner and on tire wear.
For the younger Gilliland’s part, there was no hard feelings, even if his crew members and famous father had them.
“I think a lot of different things came together and created an all-around bad deal,” Gilliland said. “We ultimately decided not to race because we didn’t want to start at the rear of the field and tear up our car.
“I wish I could race because I always wish I could race. Just the smart thing to do.”
Gilliland, like many competitors this weekend, felt like Carroll’s last-minute rule changes did more harm than good.
“We felt like we had four hours of practice, and they had plenty of opportunities to announce them before race day,” Gilliland said. “I’m sure we’ll be back some other time.”
Gilliland did take one parting shot at Carroll.
“With different leadership, it could be a much better race,” Gilliland said. “This is a special race and it has a lot of potential. I hope they look into it and make a change.”
Carroll could not be reached for comment as he is the race director and was in race control at press time.