Ragan and Gilliland Heat up in Atlanta

David Ragan, No. 34 Peanut Patch Hot Boiled Peanuts Ford
Starting Position: 14
Finishing Position: 23

David Ragan and the No. 34 team brought a fast Peanut Patch Hot Boiled Peanuts Ford to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday night’s AdvoCare 500. Qualifying 14th at his home track, the Georgia native and his team were ready for 500 miles of racing on rough asphalt.

In a race that started in the early evening and went late into the night, the team had to deal with a changing track as well as tire “fall-off” on every run, as the abrasive surface of the 1.5-mile track wore down the Goodyear rubber.

For much of the night, Ragan fought varying degrees of tightness in the center of the turns and looseness on entry and exit. With the need to pit for fresh tires on virtually every yellow flag, the team took every opportunity to adjust their car to the tough track.

Around the half-way point, Ragan said his car was as loose as it had been all night, as he hung around the top-25 mark. The Peanut Patch crew kept working on improving the car’s handling throughout the second half of the race, allowing Ragan to move several positions to cross the line in 23rd. He also collected a bonus point for leading a lap.

Comments from Peanut Patch Hot Boiled Peanuts team driver David Ragan after the Atlanta race:

“We started off OK. We probably didn’t make a couple of the right adjustments and made some mistakes on restarts. But it was a salvageable finish. I wish we could’ve gotten up there for a top-15 or top-20, though. Thanks to Peanut Patch and RaceTrac for their support. It’s a tough 500 miles here in Atlanta. We had some good parts of the race but we just need to put it all together.”

 

David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 31
Finishing Position: 17

David Gilliland collected his best career finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday — and the best ever for Front Row Motorsports at the 1.5-mile track — with a 17th-place run.

Gilliland started the race in 31st but found some speed in the early laps, climbing to 21st by Lap 50. Like his teammate Ragan, he reported being tight in the center of the turns and loose on entry and exit. He fell a lap down to the leader just once, but got the “Lucky Dog” pass on a caution to return to the lead lap.

Otherwise, Gilliland’s Long John Silver’s Ford was fast and competitive, racing around the top 20 for most of the 500 laps. He surged into the top 15 with about 35 laps to go, but multiple late-race cautions made for several bunched-up restarts in which the No. 38 Ford didn’t perform as well. He still hung around the top-15 for the final 20 laps of the night, eventually crossing the finish line in 17th.

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

“We ran in the top 20 all night and were pretty much on the lead lap all night long. We got lapped once, but got the Lucky Dog right away, so I’m just real proud of my guys. We felt good about our car after practice. I felt like it was good in race trim and it was when the race started, so we just tuned on it and were up there racing that next set of cars, so I’m real proud of my guys and our effort today.”