Daytona Race Report: Peanut Patch Shines, Gilliland Surges in Wreck-Filled Race

David Ragan, No. 34 Peanut Patch Ford
Starting Position: 38
Finishing Position: 22

David Ragan came to Daytona International Speedway as the most recent winner in a Sprint Cup Series restrictor plate race, and the expectations were high for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400. The bright yellow and green colors of Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts adorned the No. 34 Ford Fusion and made it stand out under the lights of the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Ragan and his teammates started the 400-mile race with the intention to drop toward the back and ride it out for a while, knowing the event would see its share of wrecks. Except for a little tightness exiting the corners, the Peanut Patch Ford was handling well and the Ford power under the hood was strong as Ragan bided his time toward the back of the pack.

Over the course of the first 150 of the scheduled 160 laps, the race saw the caution flag wave six times and even had one red-flag period to clean up after one particularly messy wreck. And each time, Ragan avoided the incident tucked away in the back.

The strategy had Ragan in 24th with four scheduled laps to go when the final caution of the night came out. As the field lined up for a green-white checkered finish, the Peanut Patch Ford was 21st. But the final two laps were not enough for Ragan to make another dash to the front as he did at Talladega Superspeedway in May. As some of the frontrunners wrecked coming to the checkered flag, he pushed through to cross the line in 22nd.

Comments from Peanut Patch team driver David Ragan after the Daytona race:

“We stuck with a strategy and unfortunately it didn’t work out for us in the end. We avoided the big wrecks early on by hanging back, but we just weren’t in a position to make a move toward the end. I want to thank Peanut Patch and Winn Dixie for coming on board with us this week. It was great having them with us and we look forward to the next time they’re on our Ford Fusion.”

 

David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 28
Finishing Position: 15

David Gilliland almost gave Front Row Motorsports its second win of the season Saturday night, making a push for the front in a green-white-checkered finish.

His day started in 28th, and he dropped his No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford to the back of the pack to log some laps. He told crew chief Frank Kerr that his car was just a big tight, but that it had really good speed and ran well in the draft. He knew he’d have opportunities to move up the field later in the race, so he just laid low and avoided trouble.

Around the Lap 100 mark, Gilliland was in 26th and thinking it was still too soon to make an aggressive move. That finally changed with about 20 scheduled laps to go, when the driver started making his charge. By Lap 147, he was into the top 20, and at a Lap 149 caution, he was in 16th after narrowly avoiding being clipped by another car wrecking behind him.

As the field lined up for the green-white-checkered finish, Gilliland was in eighth and in the high groove, which had proven to be fast. The top line picked up momentum on the green-flag lap, allowing Gilliland to take the white flag in fifth and keep barreling toward the checkers with a full head of steam. As the field came around the oval one last time, Danica Patrick got loose, causing a pile-up at the front of the field. Gilliland was collected in the wreck but still crossed the finish line in 15th.

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

“We’re happy, but a little disappointed. We were there. We were definitely in contention there at the end and had a good run on the last lap coming off Turn 2, so I felt like we were in contention to win right there, for sure. Kurt (Busch) and I had a good run on the outside and came up a little short because we ran out of help. But I’m proud of my guys and proud of our effort. I’m happy and overall it was a good day for us.”

 

Josh Wise, No. 35 MDS Transport Ford
Starting Position: 37
Finishing Position: 25

Josh Wise came to Daytona Beach hoping to top his season-best 19th-place finish at Talladega in May. The Front Row Fusions were fast and his No. 35 MDS Transport Ford was no different. Playing the same strategy as his teammates, Wise hung around the back of the pack for much of the race, letting attrition run its course as it always does on a superspeedway.

By a Lap 150 red flag, Wise was in 27th but told crew chief Todd Anderson that his car didn’t feel as strong as it did earlier in the evening. When the race went back yellow, Anderson brought Wise to the pits for four fresh tires and fuel to try to give him something extra for the final push.

In the final eight laps, including a green-white-checkered finish, Wise gained four positions to finish 25th for his third top-25 finish of the season. He, Ragan and Gilliland also each collected a bonus point for leading a lap under caution.

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

“We hung out in the back wanting to avoid trouble for the bulk of the race. And there was definitely plenty of it. Thankfully our strategy helped us out there and we stayed out of all those messes. But toward the end, we just didn’t have enough to make something happen. All the movement was at the front and we couldn’t really make any headway where we were. But we came out unscathed and with a top-25, so we’ll take that and learn from it.”

Be Sociable, Share!