David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 31
Finishing Position: 25
David Ragan earned another top-25 finish despite battling hot, slippery conditions at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday.
After taking the green flag in 31st, Ragan soon reported that his No. 34 Taco Bell Ford was loose around the two-mile oval – something he would wind up battling the entire 400-mile race.
But his bigger nemesis was trash. Windy conditions kicked up all kinds of paper debris that wound up on the grille of Ragan’s Ford Fusion, putting the car in danger of overheating. The driver was forced to come to pit road multiple times to remove debris and cool down the engine over the course of the 200-lap race. But smart calls by crew chief Jay Guy and quick work by the No. 34 pit crew helped keep Ragan on the lead lap for most of the race despite the frequent trips to pit road. A “Lucky Dog” pass returned him to the lead lap the one time he did get passed by the leader.
The adverse conditions prevented him from advancing very far up the field for much of the day, until late in the race with about 25 laps to go when he took a restart in 19th. But once again the temperatures on the No. 34 started rising as the grille collected more trash, and the all-day loose condition made it difficult to maintain the position. After slipping back to 27th with seven laps to go, Ragan was able to reclaim two positions to cross the finish line in 25th for his sixth top-25 finish of the season.
Comments from Taco Bell team driver David Ragan after the Michigan race:
“It was a long day here in Michigan. We had trash on our grille all day, dealt with some inconsistencies in the tires and we were really loose. So, to come away with a halfway respectable finish isn’t too bad. I’m proud of our Taco Bell team at Front Row Motorsports. We probably made more pit stops than anyone else here today. We’ll keep working on our mile-and-a-half to two-mile program, but next week we’re going road course racing, so we’ll see what happens next week in Sonoma.”
David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 26
Finishing Position: 22
David Gilliland earned his third straight top-25 finish Sunday with a fast Long John Silver’s Ford that likely would’ve finished higher if not for a pair of flat tires.
The No. 38 team started the Quicken Loans 400 in 26th. Right off the bat, he reported to crew chief Frank Kerr that his Ford Fusion was pretty strong. But on Lap 12, he had to peel off onto pit road when he felt the right rear tire go flat. The unscheduled stop put him back on track in 41st and a lap down, but he reassured his team that his car was handling well for the long race still ahead. A Lap-20 caution gave Gilliland the “Lucky Dog” pass to put him back on the lead lap, and from there he went to work on track position.
By the next caution on Lap 34, he was up to 25th, and he took the ensuing restart in 22nd after the team declined to pit. But trouble struck again on Lap 51 when Gilliland suffered another flat right rear tire. Fortunately he was close to the pit road entrance and he was able to get to his pit for new tires quickly and without any damage to the car.
The second flat put him a lap down once again and in 37th, but he continued to assure his team that his Long John Silver’s Ford was fast and handling well. And a wave-around option on the next yellow flag put him back on the lead lap.
Luck was on the team’s side once again on Lap 168 when the caution lights came on just as Gilliland was heading for the pits for a routine green-flag stop. He was able to get back on to the track without committing to pit road, allowing him to pit under yellow and claim the 18th position on the lead lap for the final restart of the race. The final 25 laps of the race were loose ones for Gilliland’s car, causing him to initially slip back to 24th before eventually charging back up to 22nd at the checkered flag.
The finish was the team’s sixth top-25 on the season and third straight.
Comments from Long John Silver’s team driver David Gilliland after the Michigan race:
“Our Long John Silver’s Ford was really fast today. It was probably the best car I’ve ever had at Michigan. Getting two flat tires was a really weird fluke and a bit disappointing because I think our car was better than where we finished. Frank Kerr and the guys did a great job all weekend giving me a good car, making smart calls from the pit box and executing good pit stops. I’m proud of our progress and I can’t wait to get to Sonoma next week to go road course racing.”