Sonoma Race Report: Gilliland Carries Pick-N-Pull to Top 25

David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 23
Finishing Position: 33

The No. 34 Taco Bell Ford started Sunday’s race in 23rd after showing good speed in Saturday’s qualifying session. David Ragan faced multiple hurdles throughout the day, including one just three laps into the race when he got spun out by a competitor. His Ford Fusion didn’t sustain any major damage, but the spin knocked him back to 39th.

Seven caution flags had the field on various pit cycles, churning up the leaderboard throughout the afternoon. The team’s pit strategy had Ragan in 23rd for a Lap 34 restart and in 18th for a restart on Lap 71. All the while, Ragan’s primary request was for more drive to help him complete passes through the track’s 12 turns.

Like the spin that started his race, Ragan also had a challenge as the race approached the end. With fewer than 20 laps to go, the team was in 25th. But after some on-track contact knocked in the toe, the No. 34 suffered a cut tire with two laps remaining. After challenging for a top-25 finish in the closing laps, Ragan slipped back to 33rd as he fought to the finish with a flat tire.

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

“From the beginning, we had a tough day here at Sonoma. We got spun out early and we just never seemed to be able to recuperate some of the speed that we had Saturday. We had a better car than what we finished with. We had a cut tire with two laps to go, so we had to finish the race on three. It was a tough day here, but we can’t wait to get to Kentucky.”


David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 29
Finishing Position: 24

David Gilliland earned a top-25 finish at Sonoma Raceway in a 350-kilometer event that saw as much bumping and banging as a short-track race.

The No. 38 Long John Silver’s team started the day in 29th with California company and associate sponsor Pick-N-Pull on the hood and quarter panels. With the Riverside, Calif., driver’s long and strong history at Sonoma, the team looked forward to having a good day on the 1.99-mile road course.

The race’s seven caution periods, including one early in the event for rain, gave the team opportunities to work its fuel and pit strategies. During a caution that began on Lap 32, the team elected not to pit, putting Gilliland in the top 15, an area where he stayed until being forced to pit under green for a routine stop.

Desite battling a tight-handling car, Gilliland worked his way back up into the top 20 by Lap 71 of the 110-lap event. He was in 24th when the final yellow flag waved on Lap 82 and crew chief Frank Kerr opted to keep his driver on track to gain track position. Gilliland restarted in 11th with 24 laps to go. With multiple other cars having pitted for fresh tires, the No. 38 fought to hold its ground, but didn’t have the same new rubber as others. After a hard-fought battle, he crossed the finish line in 24th for his seventh top-25 finish of the season and with his Long John Silver’s Ford relatively unscathed.

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

“I love this track but it definitely takes a lot out of you and makes for a long day. Our car was pretty good, but not completely what we needed. It was a little too tight. Overall it wasn’t a bad day. It certainly could’ve been a lot worse. The car is in one piece and we learned some things. We tried to make it on fuel and stretched our tires at the end, but we just didn’t quite have enough to make it to the end running as hard as we wanted to. But I’m proud of our effort, the guys on pit road had good pit stops and we learned quite a bit.”


Josh Wise, No. 35 MDS Transport Ford
Starting Position: 35
Finishing Position: 32

Josh Wise showed off solid road-course racing skills on Sunday, despite the fact that it was only his second race on Sonoma Raceway. The California native started the day in 35th and went to work on moving up the board. By a Lap 32 restart, he was in 29th but getting an early glimpse of what would become a developing issue. The driver reported to crew chief Todd Anderson that the brakes on his MDS Transport Ford were inconsistent throughout the course’s 12 turns.

Unfortunately, the issue would stick with the No. 35 as the day went on. But even with the brake issue, Wise was running fast lap times and passing cars. Like his teammate Gilliland, Wise did not come to pit road during the final caution of the race in order to gain track position. He restarted in 14th with 24 laps to go in hopes of fighting off the cars that were fresh off pit road. However, the rugged course favored those with fresh tires and better brakes, and Wise could not maintain position as the laps waned. He crossed the line in 32nd.

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

“I love road course racing, but that was extra challenging. Our brakes were giving us problems the whole race and I just wasn’t able to race other cars as hard as I wanted to through the turns. But it was definitely a learning experience and I think we ran some pretty good laps, all things considered. I’ll have plenty more notes to learn from for the next time we come here.”