Pocono Race Report: 38 Team Earns Fifth Top-25 of Season

David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 28
Finishing Position: 37

Pocono Raceway is nicknamed the “Tricky Triangle” as a nod to its three completely different corners. The tri-oval is difficult enough to navigate, but David Ragan was thrown an added challenge early in Sunday’s race when he developed a brake problem in the opening laps.

The No. 34 Taco Bell Ford came down pit road for its first green-flag stop ahead of schedule on Lap 18 to pull some tape off the brake ducts. But after Ragan rejoined the field on track, he reported back that the brakes still were not working properly. On Lap 31, he pulled his car into the garage, where the team changed a master cylinder and rotor.

The extensive repair work put Ragan back on track in the 41st position, 38 laps down. The team used the remainder of the 160-lap race to learn as much as they could about the Gen-6 car’s handling on the 2.5-mile tri-oval and to pick up as many positions as possible. The team was able to gain four more spots to finish in 37th.

Comments from Taco Bell team driver David Ragan after the Pocono race:

“That was a bit of a long day for our Front Row Motorsports team. We had a brake failure early in the day, but I’m proud of our guys because we got back out there. We came close to tearing up the racecar early, but thankfully we didn’t. We’ll look at it and learn from it. It’s a similar brake package that we’ll run at Indy and some other tracks coming up. So, kind of a disappointing day, but fortunately we didn’t tear anything up. I’m proud of our guys for bringing a good racecar. I think it had some speed. But we’ll move on to Michigan next week, which is a good track for us.”

 

David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 31
Finishing Position: 24

David Gilliland and the No. 38 Long John Silver’s team earned their fifth top-25 finish of the 2013 campaign on Sunday, with a never-give-up effort and a fast Long John Silver’s Ford.

With qualifying rained out and the field set by owners’ points, Gilliland took the green flag in 31st. After starting off with a loose-handling Ford Fusion, he began to report the car was tightening up with each pit stop – too tight, in fact. Navigating the corners became difficult enough that Gilliland went a lap down to the leaders within the first third of the race.

But the No. 38 team used the “wave-around” rule – opting to gain a lap back instead of pitting under caution – to get back on the lead lap after a Lap 67 caution. Long stretches of green-flag racing and an off-sequence pit cycle had Gilliland one lap down a final time in the latter part of the race. But he passed his way into position to earn the “Lucky Dog” pass on a Lap 139 caution and returned to the lead lap to stay.

Two more caution flags bunched up the field two more times, allowing Gilliland a late-race surge from the 31st position with 19 laps to go. At the final restart with four laps to go, Gilliland gained four spots, moving from 28th position to cross the finish line in 24th.

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

“We saved the best part ’til last, which was good because we ended our day on a good note. Our Long John Silver’s Ford Fusion had some good speed. It’s just tough with those three different turns, and our car was really sensitive to adjustments over the course of the day and even over the course of a fuel run. But Frank (Kerr) and the guys made it better as we went, and it will definitely give us a good starting point when we come back here later in the year.”

 

Josh Wise, No. 35 MDS Transport Ford
Starting Position: 36
Finishing Position: 34

Josh Wise had his fair share of challenges thrown at him during Sunday’s Party in the Poconos 400, but he and his No. 35 MDS team forged through to finished relatively unscathed.

After starting 36th, Wise reported in the early laps that his car was loose and his brakes were going soft quickly. A trip to pit road for adjustments and to pull tape off the brake ducts helped, but Wise said the car needed more of the same adjustments to improve the car even more.

As the race went on, the car’s handling evolved differently in each turn, with the MDS Ford handling Turn 1 the best. By the midway point of the race, Wise was in 34th.

With fewer than 50 laps to go, the driver reported he had lost third gear and could no longer downshift through the turns. But crew chief Derrick Finley reported that, despite the transmission issue, Wise was running his fastest laps of the race. At that point of the event, though, Wise did not have much opportunity to advance, and he maintained his 34th position until the finish.

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

“That was definitely an interesting day. Pocono is so challenging, but the guys did a good job of working on our MDS Ford all day and making it better. A few other guys hit the wall or spun and wrecked, but we managed to avoid that kind of trouble, and we learned a lot that will help our whole team.”

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