Saying something silly in the heat of the moment. We have all done it.
Luckily, for most of us, those quotes or things we mutter under our breath aren’t broadcast to the masses. For us, it’s a private chance to vent momentarily.
For Todd Gilliland, when he keyed the microphone in his No. 4 Toyota Tundra following Saturday’s NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 at Martinsville Speedway he clearly wasn’t thinking. He was so happy to finally have the monkey off his back as he had finally captured his first-career Truck Series win after 45 bitter defeats.
But why did the usually calm and cool Gilliland lose control momentarily?
Simply, it wasn’t supposed to be this hard for Gilliland to succeed at the NASCAR National Series level.
Gilliland, 19, had racked up an impressive 22 wins between the ARCA Menards Series, K&N Pro East and West Series between 2015 and 2017. He was regarded as one of — if not the hottest prospect in NASCAR. Then came the truck series.
In a season, which has seen more downs than ups, Gilliland’s skills have been called into question by his car owner Kyle Busch. Saturday’s win felt like vindication for Gilliland, who has quietly put up with the criticism all year long.
In the moments after finally reaching the mountain top, he slipped.
“You guys are awesome!” Gilliland exclaimed on the radio. “Kyle Busch you can stay in your fucking motor home!”
Despite the harsh words toward his team owner, Busch greeted Gilliland in victory lane following his triumph. Gilliland in his post-race media availability began to realize that what he said on the radio following the win was probably not the smartest thing he could have said.
“It was heat of the moment really,” Gilliland explained. “Just a lot of emotions. Everyone’s heard what he said. Obviously, it’s true, we should have been running better. I’ve wanted to win for the last year and a half as well. I’m doing all I can and the guys at the shop are. It was pretty much heat of the moment. Probably wish I didn’t say it now, but it is what it is. He’s said some stuff about me. It is what it is.”
Saturday night, after all of the smoke settled and Gilliland had more time to reflect, he sent out a sincere apology to his team owner.
Like I’ve said before we should have won by now and it just hasn’t happened. I want to apologize to @KyleBusch for what I said after the race. My emotions got the best of me obviously and a lot went through my head as I took the checkered. Two more wins to chase🏁
— Todd Gilliland (@ToddGilliland_) October 26, 2019
Is Gilliland’s job at KBM gone for 2020? Was it already gone before his slip of the tongue on Saturday? Will this win get the young driver back into the good graces of Busch?
That is all unknown for now.
What we do know after a roller coaster 2019 season though, is that Gilliland, who almost seemed like a robotic prodigy a couple of years ago as he was working his way up the ladder, is human after all.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.