CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The Busch Series team that put David Gilliland on the NASCAR map folded Monday, an indication that the upstart driver has accepted a better ride.

Gilliland shocked the NASCAR world by winning the Busch race at Kentucky Speedway in June driving for Clay Andrews Racing, a part-time team. The victory earned Gilliland numerous offers from top-level organizations, and he said two weeks ago that he was talking to 10 different car owners.

Andrews apparently saw it as a sign that he couldn’t keep the 30-year-old Gilliland and decided to close his operation.

“We put our heart, soul and resources into David Gilliland,” Andrews said in a statement. “Personally and financially we do not feel it is best to move forward at this time.”

Gilliland, meanwhile, appears to be headed to one of Robert Yates Racing’s empty Nextel Cup seats. He will make his debut with that team in Saturday night’s Busch race in Indianapolis, driving the No. 90 Ford.

Yates has two seats to fill now that Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler are both leaving at the end of the season. The car owner is considering 19-year-old Stephen Leicht for one of the rides, and Leicht made his Cup debut two weeks ago at Pocono Raceway. He finished 36th.

Gilliland had a storied West Coast-racing career when he moved to North Carolina in January to give NASCAR a shot with Andrews. The startup team had no sponsor and lacked the funds run the full Busch schedule.

He missed the first race he tried to qualify for, mustered only a career-best 29th-place finish in the next four events, then failed to make the May race in Charlotte.

But he finally broke through in Kentucky when he became the first non-Nextel Cup driver to win a Busch event in 18 races dating back to last November.

He’s been fielding offers ever since, leaving Andrews little hope of keeping him.

Andrews, though, vowed to give NASCAR another try.

“We hope to be back in about three years,” he said. “I have my eye on a young, but very talented driver that I would love to bring back into the Busch Series.”


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