The handshake was only just beginning to cool after Yates Racing and David Gilliland announced that they were amicably terminating their relationship, when the driver popped in a lap good enough to qualify the #71 TRG Chevrolet for Sunday's Auto Club 500.

A lack of sponsorship precipitated the end of Gilliland's deal to drive Yates Racing's #38 Sprint Cup car, which began in mid-2006.

"David did a great job for us and is a gifted driver," Doug Yates commented, "We are sorry to lose him, but it is important for David to continue driving, and sponsorship is very tough this year."

Given the opportunity to continue his career with TRG, Gilliland wasted no time in putting the team into its first Sprint Cup race following Mike Wallace's miss in the build-up to the Daytona 500.

"The folks at Yates Racing treated me very fairly and I appreciate that," Gilliland noted, "Yates is a great organisation, and I am sorry to leave, but I need to move on and pursue other opportunities for my career.

Joining TRG for his 'home' race, Riverside native Gilliland worked hard all day with TRG crew chief Richard 'Slugger' Labbe and made the right adjustments to run a lap of 39.948secs, securing a 16th row start.

"It was tough, it was on my nerves a little bit," Gilliland revealed, "but we are through the first hurdle and we have her in the race on Sunday. We have some more time to work on it in practice tomorrow, and I feel real good about the car.

"I think everyone at TRG Motorsports has done a phenomenal job, worked real hard in a short amount of time to get the car prepared and driving real well. I am really excited to be racing on Sunday. For everybody at TRG Motorsports, their hard work has paid off."

Gilliland knows what it takes to have a good car at the Auto Club Speedway, a track where he has more experience than any other that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits.

"The car doesn't need to change a whole lot for the race from the qualifying set-up," he noted, "It is in the race track, which it needs to be to race good and qualify well. The car overall drives good and it has been responding well to changes in qualifying trim. That is the biggest thing, having a car that responds well to changes. 'Slugger' has a great plan for the race so, hopefully, we can put together a good solid finish."