August 20, 2006 | 7:03 A.M. EST
- BROOKLYN, Mich. - David Gilliland's racing career reaches its pinnacle Sunday with his first NEXTEL Cup Series start in the GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
- A cool and cloudy day here at Michigan on Sunday with breezy conditions and unseasonably cool temperatures in the low 70's.
- Jeremy Mayfield has reportedly signed a three-year deal with Bill Davis Racing with an announcement coming Friday at Bristol.
- Next year's ten race "Chase" schedule will feature the same events from the first three years of the championship slate. Modifications are expected in 2008.
- The newest edition of RacingOne Pit Notes is being distributed here at Michigan this weekend and a version is linked to this story. Kudos to our hard working colleagues who put this publication together and our RacingOne staff looks forward to providing more features and stories for upcoming issues.
The anticipation more than likely caused a sleepless night on Saturday.
“I am really looking forward to it," Gilliland said. "It’s something that I’ve worked and dedicated my whole life to is racing and trying to make it to the Nextel Cup level, and we’re here now and we’re going to give it all we can and hopefully put together some good finishes."
The unheralded NEXTEL Cup rookie grabbed the racing world's attention with his upset Busch Series win at Kentucky Speedway in June. And as this year's ramped-up version of "Silly Season" went into high gear, Gilliland suddenly became a hot commodity and less thantwo months later found himself in a full-time Cup ride with Robert Yates Racing.
"It’s a dream come true," Gilliland said. "After we won that race at Kentucky, a lot of great opportunities came our way, and we just kind of took our time and sorted through them and this was an opportunity that I definitely couldn’t pass up."
The learning curve will be steep for Gilliland, who qualified 26th in the M&M's Ford on Friday but crashed during Saturday's practice session forcing him to a back-up car in Sunday's race.
"We were running around, we were making a long run this morning among other cars and the car was real good," Gilliland said Saturday after the accident. "Paul Menard got behind us a little bit and it felt like he took the air off the back of the car. That’s all part of learning these cars and how you can race ’em. They’re a little bit different with a little bit less spoiler and stuff. It’s just a learning deal."
And did the slap of reality Saturday change the freshman's approach to his first Cup race start Sunday?
“No, we just want to bring home a good solid finish, and make sure we finish all the laps and be there at the end, and just learn racing – how they race against other cars and how they are when you’re inside of somebody and outside of somebody and everything else," Gilliland said.