The success story Robert Yates Racing NEXTEL Cup Series driver David Gilliland started with a NASCAR Busch Series "Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo" win at Kentucky Speedway last summer continued at Daytona International Speedway this past weekend when the driver of the No. 38 M&M's machine took the pole position for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500 and grabbed a second-place finish in the Bud Shootout.

Gilliland, who competed in 14 races last season with his current team, took the top qualifying spot with a 186.320-mph lap and will share the front row with teammate Ricky Rudd, who turned a 185.609-mph circuit.

The remainder of the race starting grid will be determined by the results of two 150-mile Gatorade Duel races to be held Feb. 15 beginning at 2:00 p.m., on SPEED Channel. Gilliland will attempt to become the 10th driver to win the "Great American Race" from the pole position. The top 35 drivers from the 2006 standings are guaranteed a spot in the 500-mile affair along with Dale Jarrett, who will take advantage of the past series champion provisional to compete in his new Michael Waltrip Racing car.

Other drivers who earned spots in the upcoming duel races based on qualifying runs were Boris Said, two-time Daytona 500 winner Sterling Marlin and Johnny Sauter. The defending Daytona 500 champion also is defending series champion Jimmie Johnson. Jeff Burton started the 2006 event from the pole position after turning in a 189.151-mph qualifying effort.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

~ Kentucky Speedway ~