Loudon Race Report: Gilliland, Ragan Earn Top-20s

David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 29
Finishing Position: 19

David Ragan and the No. 34 Taco Bell team took the green flag in the 29th position, having made gains on their car all weekend. Unfortunately, the afternoon track conditions made their Ford Fusion extremely tight from the start.

But the team had 318 miles to work on it. And work on it they did, making chassis adjustments on every stop and playing the yellow flags to their advantage as they went. After falling a lap down, but then earning a “Lucky Dog” free pass on Lap 125, the team returned to the lead lap to stay for the rest of the race.

By the half-way mark, Ragan was sitting in the top 25. The later it got, the better the car performed, with Ragan advancing into the top 20 with about 50 scheduled laps remaining. Two late cautions gave the team some options heading to the closing laps. On the first, crew chief Jay Guy brought his driver down pit road for four fresh tires, putting him back on track in 26th. On the second yellow, Guy kept Ragan out on track, putting him in 18th for a green-white-checkered restart.

The final two laps were chaotic, with cars headed four-wide at times toward the checkers. Ragan held his ground in the top-20, crossing the line in 19th for his third top-20 finish of the season.

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

“It was a long race here at Loudon and we came away with top-20. It could’ve been a lot worse. We worked on our Taco Bell Ford all day. We were really tight to begin with and track conditions just weren’t what we thought they would be. We worked and worked and maybe could’ve gotten a top-15 but it was rough those last few laps and we came home with a top-20. So it was a good day for our Front Row team. We’ll take a week off and see everybody at Indy.”

 

David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 24
Finishing Position: 18

The Long John Silver’s Ford that took the checkered flag at the end of the Loudon race was the product of a long weekend of hard work for David Gilliland and the No. 38 team. After starting with a tough-handling car on Friday during practice, the team made all the right moves to improve their car every step of the weekend.

After qualifying 24th for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301, the team made even more changes to their car for race day. And the adjustments paid off, with Gilliland reporting in the opening laps that he was really happy with the race car.

His Ford Fusion started to tighten up in the turns through the middle portion of the race. But Gilliland stood his ground in the top 25 as the team worked to get the car back to the way their driver liked it. By Lap 219, Gilliland was happier with the car and sitting in 23rd. He had also avoided major damage from two different accidents among cars around him that almost swept him up in the wreckage.

A little banged up but none the worse for wear, Gilliland had climbed into the top 20 for a Lap 243 restart. Two more cautions over the remainder of the race saw the team take two tires on one stop and stay out on track for the second. The moves put the No. 38 in 17th for a final green-white-checkered restart. Gilliland fell back one position in the fray, which included a four-wide fight to the finish. He finished 18th and on the lead lap for his best career result at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and fourth top-20 finish of 2013.

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

“I’m really proud of Frank Kerr and our 38 team. We made huge strides over the course of the weekend from where we unloaded. From the green flag today, I felt we had a really fast car and were going to be competitive. We had a stop in the middle of the race where we over-adjusted for the conditions, and we wound up going back on those changes on the next stop. But we had good stops on pit road, we made smart changes most of the day and it wound up being a really good day for our Front Row Motorsports team.”

 

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

Josh Wise and the No. 35 MDS Transport team started Sunday’s race in 35th position. The driver told crew chief Todd Anderson that his car was tight-handling through the turns, and the crew went to work on it during the first few pit stops. The efforts were helping and Wise’s lap times were improving.

He was in 32nd position when a bigger problem arose around the half-way point of the race. Wise radioed that there was a problem with one of the shocks. He brought his Ford Fusion to pit road, where his team discovered a broken shock mount. Wise was forced to take the car to the garage for about 30 laps for repairs before returning to the track.

With about 50 laps to go, Wise was in 38th but running his best lap times of the race. The team persevered to climb three positions over the remainder of the race and crossed the line in 35th.

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

“We had a great car. Our MDS Ford was fast and handled pretty well, especially on long runs. But we broke a shock mount on the truck arm and that put us in the garage for a little while to fix it, unfortunately. We were still fast when we got back out on the track, but we’d obviously lost a lot of ground. Our race today and what we learned will definitely help us when we come back later this year.”

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