Our series of weekly NASCAR driver interviews continues with David Gilliland of Front Row Motorsports. This week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sonoma, where Gilliland has his best average finish of any track (20.3) and finished second there in 2008.
SBN: What percent of your career races can you remember?
DG: What percent of them? Probably quite a bit. Probably 95 percent of them.
SBN: Wow, that's a lot. Is your memory just that great?
DG: No, my memory is not very good at most other stuff. Maybe it's that I remember too many of my past races. My wife will tell you that my memory is terrible. (Laughs) There are just certain things that happen throughout a race that you log. It seems like I can go back to those.
SBN: What was the first win you got in any form of motorsports?
DG: My first win I ever got was at Perris Auto Speedway (a dirt track in Southern California). I crashed about three times leading the race before I won my first one.
SBN: Who is a clean driver in NASCAR you really enjoy racing with?
DG: Probably Carl Edwards. He's just always raced me kind of the way I'd want to be raced. There's a lot of other people that race OK, too. But from start to finish, every time, I think...oh, actually he spun me out one time at Sonoma. (Laughs) But most of the time, I feel like you get a fair shake from racing with him.
SBN: On the opposite side of that, is there anyone who always seems to make it extra hard on you?
DG: Probably Bobby Labonte.
SBN: Really? Has it always been like that?
DG: Yeah, kinda, for some reason. I don't know if it's more because the group of cars we're racing is (now including) him, but the last couple years it's been that way.
SBN: What is your personal code of conduct on the track?
DG: It all depends on how we're running, you know? I've won races and led races and been running in the top five enough to understand when you need to race hard and when you don't. I try to give everybody as much respect as I can out there, hoping that one day when we're running well that they return the favor. It works out pretty good like that.
SBN: Do you keep a mental list of people you owe for payback?
DG: Probably, yeah. It's hard to forget. You don't want to, really. But there's definitely some of those things that are hard to forget. They stick in your mind.
SBN: If you could turn back time, who is a driver from the past you'd like to be on the same team with?
DG: I think Richard Petty. Just to learn some of his winning ways.
SBN: What's the last time you got nervous about something?
DG: Probably getting on track at Pocono for the first time in testing. Some people came here for a tire test, but we didn't come at all. And with it being repaved, I know a lot of other tracks after they repaved them, the groove was so narrow. If you got out of the groove, you'd wreck. Just kind of nervous a little bit, a little anxious to see the track and how it drove.
SBN: You guys meet so many fans and do so many appearances, and sometimes fans can ask weird or uncomfortable questions. Do you have any stories along those lines?
DG: The worst part for me is when a fan comes up to you and asks you to sign something with a Sharpie, and they hold the Sharpie in their mouth and pull the cap off. That's probably the most uncomfortable I get, because I really don't want to touch the Sharpie, but sometimes they catch me when I don't have one. That's probably the most awkward I feel around fans.
SBN: So do you just sign for them despite the saliva-covered Sharpie?
DG: Mmm-hmm. Then I go wash my hands. (Laughs)
SBN: If you had to choose one of these two jobs after you retire, would you rather be a NASCAR broadcaster or a high-ranking NASCAR official like a Robin Pemberton?
DG: Probably a NASCAR official. The broadcasting thing just really doesn't interest me. To be involved on the technical side of the cars and be involved in helping making them better and progressing the sport is something I'd rather do.
SBN: What question do you get a lot that you're tired of answering?
DG: I guess it's, "When are you going to win a race?" But more so from friends and family, with them not really understanding the position of our team right now with Front Row Motorsports. I want to win, obviously, and there's a handful of tracks where I feel like we have a legitimate shot at winning. But on a weekly basis, if we finish 32nd or whatever, it's just what we had (to work with) for that weekend, you know?
SBN: I've been asking each driver to give me a question for the next guy. Juan Pablo Montoya was last week's interview and he said: "I don't know that much about David. I'd like to know how he got started in racing."
DG: I grew up in racing around my dad (former Winston West Series champion Butch Gilliland) and I grew up working on the cars. Never really did any go-kart stuff or anything, just kind of grew up working on the cars and building them. But I always had a passion to drive, as long as I can remember watching my dad race and going to the races. I started driving at a local dirt track, Perris Auto Speedway, and just kind of followed the NASCAR model up the ranks and ran all those divisions and ended up here.
SBN: And can you help me with a question for the next guy?
DG: I'd like to know what their routine is on race day as far as nutrition stuff, and how soon they start hydrating and getting physically ready for a race on a hot day.
ARCHIVE: See all the previous 12 Questions interviews from this season.