Robert Yates Racing rookie driver David Gilliland will kick off his first Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway by driving in the 2007 Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night, Feb. 10.
Gilliland captured the Bud Pole for last weekend's NEXTEL Cup event at Talladega Superspeedway with a lap of 49.950 seconds at 191.712 mph to earn a starting spot in the Budweiser Shootout.
"We had a goal when we came down here this weekend," said Gilliland's crew chief Todd Parrott. "I told him (Gilliland) we were coming down here for two laps. That's to come down here and to sit on the pole. That put us in the Bud Shootout for 2007. David has never been to Daytona, so now that we're in the Bud Shootout that just gives him more track time at Daytona. That was one of our main goals and we accomplished it."
"I think we've been gaining a little bit of momentum over the last couple of weeks and I think this will be a great shot in the arm for myself as well as all of our guys and our team, our sponsors and Doug and Robert," said Gilliland of his first Bud Pole in only his ninth NEXTEL Cup start.
Gilliland becomes the 14th different Bud Pole winner in 2006 and adds his name to the growing list of All-Star drivers in next year's Budweiser Shootout, the non-points event that features the previous season's Bud Pole winners as well as past Budweiser Shootout champions.
Other drivers that have won pole positions during the 2006 season and qualified for 2007 Budweiser Shootout are Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Elliott Sadler, Denny Hamlin, Scott Riggs, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and Boris Said.
Past Budweiser Shootout champions eligible for the 2007 event are Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Ken Schrader and Bill Elliott.
Speedweeks 2007 kicks off with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 27-28. Also on tap for the three-week festival of speed are the Budweiser Shootout (Feb. 10), the Gatorade Duel (Feb. 15), the Chevy Silverado HD 250 Craftsman Truck Series race and IROC (Feb. 16), the Daytona 300 Busch Series race (Feb. 17) and the 49th annual Daytona 500 (Feb. 18).
Tickets to all exciting events at Daytona International Speedway are available online at www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.