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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2008 Driver Review: David Gilliland

2008 Ride: No. 38 Yates Racing Ford
2008 Primary Sponsor: FreeCreditReport.com, Ford Drive One, CitiFinancial, FCC, AFLAC Cancer Center, Dish Network
2008 Owner: Doug Yates/Max Jones
2008 Crew Chief: Cully Barraclough

Stats: 36 races, 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s, 0 poles, 8 DNFs, 27th in points
Best Finish: Second – Infineon

High Point: Obviously, the second-place finish on the northern California road course in Sonoma, when David Gilliland was 1.716 seconds behind Kyle Busch at the checkered flag for a career-best performance.

Low Point: Had to be in the Dickies 500, the second race at Texas, when Gilliland was parked by NASCAR after 266 laps for deliberately wrecking Juan Pablo Montoya.

Summary: After losing M&M’s sponsorship to the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 team and Busch, it was simply an uphill battle for Gilliland to get financial backing in 2008. FreeCreditReport.com sponsored the team for the first six races, then extended for an unannounced number of weeks starting at the first Talladega event before ending their partnership after Pocono in August. However, the team survived in part with an intensive marketing and collaboration with Roush Fenway Racing. Former Roush GM Max Jones became a part owner with son Doug Yates, who took over the operation of Yates Racing after the retirement of his father, Robert. Jones has placed his focus on administrative duties, with Doug Yates primarily paying attention to the engine department, which also provides engines to Roush Fenway.

None of the changes did much to keep their driver on the racetrack, though. Gilliland finished only 28 of the 36 events, being eliminated six times by crashes, once by an engine failure, and once by the NASCAR penalty at Texas. The DNFs caused Gilliland to plummet to 27th in points, behind new teammate Travis Kvapil, who finished 23rd. The tough season continued a trend in the last several years in which Yates Racing cars have struggled to simply crack the top 10.

Team Ranking: Second best out of two tough situations at Yates. Things appear to have only gotten worse for what was one of NASCAR’s proudest racing operations since Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler left following the 2006 season. Performance actually started dropping off in 2003; since then, they have won only four races, while in the five years preceding they took the checkered flag first 18 times. In two and a half years with Gilliland behind the wheel, the No. 38 side of the team in particular has struggled, accumulating just two top-five and four top-10 finishes in their last 87 starts.

2009 Outlook: It appears that Gilliland will return to the No. 38, but no word on sponsors for his car or Kvapil’s is available at this writing. Paul Menard will join Yates as a third team, with obvious family backing, coming over from DEI’s No. 15 Chevrolets. Rumors persist, however, that if Yates struggles to keep finding sponsors it will be Gilliland who’s the first to go.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: N/A
2007 Grade: D
2008 Grade: D