Gilliland satisfied with memorable week
He got caught up in the final crash and finished eighth.
SPORTING NEWS NASCAR WIRE SERVICE
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- David Gilliland had a memorable Speedweeks 2007.
In the Bud Shootout Feb. 10, Gilliland, who had only 15 Nextel Cup starts and had never raced at Daytona -- finished second. The next day he won the pole for the Daytona 500.
Sunday in the 500, Gilliland led the first 18 laps before being passed by Kurt Busch. He then showed his inexperience in the pits when he came in too hot and overshot his pit stall. As he left, he got into the side of Robby Gordon turning Gordon sideways on pit road.
Gilliland's Robert Yates Racing Ford suffered front-end damage and was forced to return for repairs. He lost a lap and fell to 41st but steadily worked his way back to the front. On the final restart for the green-white-checkered flag finish, Gilliland was fourth.
"I kind of was defensive," Gilliland said. "I was trying to block the inside and the outside, and [Kevin] Harvick got a run on me there. I tried to go up, but it was too late, and then the guys started wrecking in front of me, so stuff happens. It's Daytona and a green-white-checkered finish."
Gilliland was caught up in a multicar crash on the final turn of the last lap. He was scored with an eighth-place finish.
"I thought we had it," Gilliland said. "I was in front of Harvick ... and it just closed in on me at the end. But an eighth-place finish with all we went through today, we'll take it."
With his strong showing in what is typically one of NASCAR's toughest venues, Gilliland showed not only his talent, but also the strength of the organization behind him. It wasn't long ago that the Yates organization was being written off.
Gilliland's teammate, Ricky Rudd, started beside him on the front row.
"We had a great car," Gilliland said. "We had a little incident on pit road, but we never gave up and kept on fighting. This was a big step in the right direction for Robert Yates Racing, so we're good and we're excited."