Kentucky Race Report: Rain Turns Night Race into Day

David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 38
Finishing Position: 26
 
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series went racing on Sunday afternoon after lingering rains postponed Saturday night's scheduled event.  David Ragan and the Taco Bell team started 38th in a car that was set up to run a night race, so they had their work cut out for them.

 
Early on, Ragan radioed that his No. 34 Ford was loose going into the corners and tight coming off – a condition that the team would wind up fighting all day.
 
In a race littered with 10 caution periods and one red flag, the team used an off-sequence pit cycle in an effort to gain some ground.  As the team continued to work on adapting the car to the hot daytime conditions, Ragan moved up to 28th by the halfway point of the race.
 
He fought the same handling conditions in the second half of the race as he did in the first, but was able to gain two more spots to finish in 26th.
 
Comments from Taco Bell team driver David Ragan after the Kentucky race:  
 
"It was a long, hot afternoon for our Taco Bell Ford.  We really felt the bumps all the day, we were really loose into the corner and really tight out of the corner.   Our nighttime set-up that we had for what was supposed to be a night race yesterday probably wasn't the best set-up for this afternoon.  We've still got some work to do on on our mile-and-a-half cars, too.  But we're looking forward to the half-way point of the season next week at Daytona where we know our Ford Fusions are always competitive."

 

David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver's Ford
Starting Position: 34
Finishing Position: 28
 
David Gilliland started the Quaker State 400 in the 34th position.  Like his teammate Ragan, he found his car to be loose in and out of the turns and tight through the center as the early part of the race unfolded.
 
A bigger issue struck on Lap 88 (of 267) when Gilliland's right rear tire blew after a scrape against the wall.  The No. 38 team made quick repairs to the car, but the incident caused Gilliland to lose some ground.  Despite the setback, the Long John Silver's Ford Fusion was handling much better as it approached the half-way point of the race with Gilliland in 30th but two laps down.
 
The second half was much less eventful as the No. 38 team continued to whittle away at any remaining handling issues.  Improvements to the car allowed Gilliland to gain two more positions and bring home a 28th-place finish and a bonus point for leading a lap under caution.
 
Comments from Long John Silver's team driver David Gilliland after the Kentucky race:
 
"We started out not quite as good as we needed to be, but we felt like we could get there.  I scraped the wall a little bit coming out of Turn 4 and had a little bit of a tire rub and ended up blowing the right rear tire at the start-finish line.  Luckily we didn't wreck the car, but we did some damage to the crush panels, so after that it was really hot in the car.  We made some good adjustments and definitely got the car better toward the end of the race. But we'd lost two laps because of the blown tire and fixing the damage.  It could've been a lot worse, though, so we'll take it and learn from it."