Darlington Race Report: Race-Winner Ragan Is Center of Attention in Peanut Patch Ford

David Ragan, No. 34 Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts Ford
Starting Position: 31
Finishing Position: 39

Comiing into a race where he was the biggest story, David Ragan lined up his No. 34 Peanut Patch Bolied Peanuts Ford in the 31st position for Saturday evening’s event at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. He was again looking to score another win. But, shortly after the green flag waved for the 367-lap race, Ragan communicated to his crew that the car was handling tight. It was only an up hill battle from there.

The leaders were setting a blistering pace in the early laps and the No. 34 car fell one lap down by Lap 30. The first round of pit stops took place 19 laps later and Crew Chief Jay Guy called for four tires and fuel as well as chassis adjustments in an effort to remedy the tight condition.

Ragan continued to fight a tight handling car throughout much of the race. The team made a multitude of adjustments to the car and the race went nearly caution free for the first two-thirds of the event. Opportunities to adjust on the car came few and far between for a great deal of the race.

During a Lap 317 restart, Ragan was unable to get up to speed and was forced to pit when water began spewing from the overflow. The crew went under the hood and made an attempt to bring the water temperature down, but after returning to the track for a lap, it became apparent the Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts Ford wouldn’t make it to the end of the race. Ragan was pushed to the garage and credited with a 39th place finish.

Comments from Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts team driver David Ragan after the Darlington race:

“It looked like we got some trash on our grille so we came down pit road. Luckily the caution came out so it didn’t seem like it was going to be that bad for us. We got some water put back in it and pulled some tape and went back out, but the temperature skyrocketed again. I think it just lost a little bit too much water and got a little too hot. The engine ran great all night up to that point, though.

“Our car was just way too tight to start the race and we didn’t get enough cautions to really work on it. It’s unfortunate not to finish the race here, but I’m proud of our guys. We worked hard and we had a decent car. We’ll take time to recuperate and get ready for the All-Star race.”
David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 29
Finishing Position: 29

After pushing Ragan to the win last weekend, Gilliland was looking for another strong wekeend. Starting 29th at one of NASCAR’s toughest tracks on the circuit, David Gilliland let his Front Row Motorsports team know that his Ford was tight at both ends of the track early in the event.

Gilliland went one lap down to the leaders on Lap 32 and drove to pit road for the first stop of the day at Lap 50. A four-tire pit stop ensued and the team also made several adjustments to the car to try to make it more to Gilliland’s liking.

Adjustments were made to the No. 38 Ford nearly every pit stop with crew chief Frank Kerr commenting after the race that he had never made as many changes to a car in one race as he had Saturday night. Perseverance paid off and as the race wore on, the handling improved.

Gilliland took the checkered flag in the 29th position after avoiding several late race incidents.

Comments from Long John Silver’s team driver David Gilliland after the Darlington race:

“I appreciate this team for never giving up. We had a way to go as far as handling with this car, but everyone worked really hard to get the best finish we could get. Our pit stops were really good, which was really important tonight because we made so many stops under green. Frank Kerr reached as far into his playbook as he could and near the end of the race the car had improved and was handling the best it had been. We stayed out of trouble and came home in one piece and that’s half the battle in Darlington.”
Josh Wise, No. 35 MDS Transport Ford
Starting Position: 34
Finishing Position: 38

Josh Wise lined up in the 34th spot for the start of Saturday night’s event at the track known as the Track to Tough to Tame. Like his teammates, Wise encountered a tight handling racecar right from the start of the event and the crew went to work to make the necessary adjustments to get the handling of the MDS Transport Ford closer to what Wise needed.

Though he fell one lap down early in the event thanks in part to long green flag periods, Wise drove a smart race on a grueling track and gained valuable experience throughout the event.

The cautions began to fly one after another during the final 50 laps of the race and Wise’s No. 35 Ford was caught up in one of the incidents. Wise was able to maneuver the car to the garage area and the crew went to work to make the repairs needed for a return to the track. Wise was able to return for several laps, but the damage to the car turned out to be too extensive to be able to make it to the checkered flag. He was credited with a 38th-place finish.

Comments from MDS Transport team driver Josh Wise after the Darlington race:

“It’s exciting to come to Darlington. Obviously we would have liked to have finished the race, but we learned an awful lot throughout the night and it was just unfortunate that weren’t able to be around at the very end. It sounds like we had the same tight handling condition to start the race that a lot of teams struggled with and I was proud of the MDS Transport crew for working as hard as they did. We made steady progress throughout the night and the guys made a good effort to get us back out on the track after the accident. We just ran out of time to make all the repairs we needed to make, but they gave it their all.”