Gillilands - NASCAR Sears Point spotlight

GILLILAND NAME KNOWN IN VICTORY LANE AT INFINEON RACEWAY Father And Son Both Experience Success On Northern California Road Course DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 12, 2007) -- The Gilliland name is a familiar one in victory lane at Infineon...

Father And Son Both Experience Success On Northern California Road Course

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 12, 2007) -- The Gilliland name is a familiar one in victory lane at Infineon Raceway. David Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 M&M's Ford for Robert Yates Racing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series -- won a race on the twisting road course in 2004, while progressing through NASCAR's Touring ranks in the Elite Division, Southwest Series.

His father, Butch Gilliland, also tasted victory at the track in Northern California's wine country. He won back-to-back events in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series in 1996 and 1997. Butch -- who went on to capture the series championship in 1997 with David serving as his crew chief -- also competed in eight NEXTEL Cup Series races at Infineon, finishing as high as 24th on two occasions.

The father-son duo will return to Infineon this month, with David doing double-duty behind the wheel and Butch on hand to provide support and guidance. The Blue Lizard Suncream 200 presented by Supercuts on Saturday, June 23, will mark David's first Grand National Division, West Series race at Infineon. He will follow that up with the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NEXTEL Cup Series event on Sunday, June 24.

"It's special to me that we both won there," David said of the Sonoma track. "We are looking forward to running the West Series at Infineon. I never got a chance to run the West Series race there while I was racing in that series and my dad's going to be there to help me out with any questions that I have. So, it's going to be a special weekend."

David also has other reasons for looking forward to returning to Infineon.

"It's always fun to go back to California, because you see a lot of friends and family; but to also go to track where you've had success," David said. "We'd love to repeat the success that we had in the Touring Series in the West Series race. Regardless, the race will be a lot of fun but we'd like to bring home the trophy as well."

Butch shared similar thoughts about returning to Infineon: "I think it's going to be really nice. David and I both are looking forward to getting back in to the West Series and saying hi to all the people there. We're both looking forward to that. I think it's going to be a good week."

Butch is quick to credit his son for the success they experienced at Infineon 10 years ago. "A lot of that success I really have to give to David. He was my crew chief and helped build the cars," said Butch, who as a former motorcycle road racer was known for being smooth and quick in getting around a road course. "Stroppe Motorsports also played a big part of it and Ford in providing good equipment." In addition to winning West Series races at Infineon in 1996 and 1997, Butch was the top finishing West Series driver in combination races with the NEXTEL Cup Series there in 1994 and 1997.

He is confident, meanwhile, that his son will be able to translate his success in a Southwest Series car at Infineon to run well in the West Series. "I think he's adapted to the big cars pretty good," Butch said of David's first full season in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

David -- who raced full-time in the West Series in 2004 and 2005 -- never got the opportunity to race with the series at Infineon, because the circuit did not visit there between 1998 and 2006. This race will require a different approach, meanwhile, than the Southwest Series race he won, according to David.

"The West Series race is a little longer than the Tour race I won there and also the cars are a little bit heavier," he said. "They don't turn as well so you have to have a little bit more finesse. You really can't throw them around like you would the Tour cars."

Both Gilliland's agree that competing in the West Series race should benefit David's NEXTEL Cup effort. "I'm looking at the double duty as a positive, just more laps on that track," David said. "We are taking a 110-inch car similar to our Cup Series car. Sometimes double duty is tough, but we are looking at it as a positive just because of having more laps on the track. The M&M's Team is coming out to handle the pit stops for me on Saturday. We will have some extra laps to work together as a team on pit road and I think it will be a positive all the way around."

After serving as the crew chief for his father's successful championship campaign in 1997, David began concentrating on his own racing career. He entered limited West Series events between 1997 and 2002, but it was not until 2004 that he had the opportunity to race full-time in the series as he and the MRG Motorsports team made the move up from the Southwest Series in NASCAR's Elite Division.

It was a positive step, with David winning the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award and finishing third in the overall championship standings for the West Series. He followed that up with another successful season in the West Series in 2005, capping things off by winning the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. That victory led to an opportunity to drive for Clay Andrews Racing, as the team ventured into a limited schedule in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2006. In a season in which NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers were dominating the competition, Gilliland grabbed headlines by winning at Kentucky in June.

The win led to him landing a ride with Robert Yates Racing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series late last season. Gilliland took advantage of the situation, gaining valuable seat time and winning a Bud Pole at Talladega, while making 14 starts with RYR in 2006. His success has continued this year, as the 31-year-old driver from Southern California started off by winning the Bud Pole for the Daytona 500 and registering a runner-up finish in the Budweiser Shootout.

Butch, meanwhile, has competed in only one West Series race since 1999. "I've devoted myself to my contracting business of developing commercial property in Idaho," he said. He and his wife, Vlada, also enjoy traveling.

Butch had hoped to put plans together to return to the cockpit and race against his son this year at Infineon, but those plans did not materialize.

Although not racing, Butch has not stayed away from the race track. "We also devoted a lot of our time to David -- going to his races, giving him support and helping him wherever we can," said Butch. "Obviously, now he's in a series where he doesn't need physical help, but we're there at a lot of the races. Before he made the Cup deal, I was trying to help him as much as I could. He spent a lot of his years helping me get to where I did."

-credit: nascar

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Drivers David Gilliland , Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing