(Cover Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
By Adam Carabine
In case you missed it, StatChat is counting down the days ‘til the 2023 Daytona 500. Every two days, we will have a new article featuring one of the 36 charters of 2022.
29th Place – Todd Gilliland – 530 pts
FRONT ROW MOTORSPORTS – FORD
3rd (of 3) in Rookie of the Year standings – Todd Gilliland’s inaugural Cup Series season certainly wasn’t a failure, by any means. However, he did fare the worst of the three eligible RotY drivers. Austin Cindric essentially clinched the title by winning the first race of the year and advancing to the playoffs, since it’s rare for drivers to win in their first Cup Series season. That being said, without his playoff appearance, Cindric still earned just over 300 more points than Gilliland in 2022.
4th Finish @ Indianapolis Road Course – Todd Gilliland’s best finish of the year was at the Indianapolis Road Course, where he finished 4th. He also finished 6th in the first stage, earning him an additional 5 points on the race. He finished with 38 points on the day, by far the best of his rookie campaign.
750 Quality Passes in 2022 – Quality passes are a metric measured by NASCAR which mean a green flag pass while also being in the Top-15. Considering Todd Gilliland’s average running position through the 2022 season was around 24th place, having 750 quality passes (or just under 21 per race) is a solid stat for a young rookie. When you get to the back of the pack, it’s much easier to pass the cars that are stuck back there, as they’re often not as fast as the contending teams. Being able to make your way to the Top-15, and then to be able to pass others while there – that’s something worth celebrating for Todd Gilliland this year.
4 DNFs in 2022 – A DNF rate of 11%, albeit with a small sample size, ranks just around the Top 60 all-time. It’s better than Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Erik Jones, and a little-known driver who went by the name of JEFF GORDON. Now, whether Todd Gilliland can continue that trend over future seasons remains to be seen, but he’s off to an impressive start so far when it comes to keeping his equipment clean.
31 Stage Points Earned in 2022 – Pair this with Gilliland’s number of quality passes, and it shows he had a knack for running up near the front at various points in the season. What seems to be missing from his Cup racing equation is his ability to close out races. It’s one thing to be able to run well, but all the points come from finishing. Todd shouldn’t worry too much, though, as it was just his rookie year.
Earlier this month, Front Row Motorsports announced that their 2022 driver lineup would remain the same for 2023, meaning both Michael McDowell and Todd Gilliland would be returning to the 34 and 38 cars, respectively. Look for Gilliland to improve on a respectable rookie season.
Coming up next in the Countdown to Daytona series – Harrison Burton!