Chicago Race Report: Teams Persevere through Chase’s Soggy Start

David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 19
Finishing Position: 26

As NASCAR kicked off the Chase for the Sprint Cup with Sunday’s Geico 400, Mother Nature decided to make it an all-day — and all-night — affair. The start of the race was delayed over an hour by rain and was interrupted more significantly about 100 laps in for a stretch of five-plus hours, returning to green late in the evening.

David Ragan and his Taco Bell team started 19th for the 400-mile event. The car went through different phases of handling over the course of a run and over the course of the evening, especially after the five-hour delay gave the field a cooler and cleaner track surface. The No. 34 team hung around the top-25 mark for most of the race as they worked on improving the car’s handling and tried to play the cautions to their advantage.

One of Ragan’s biggest pushes for position came in the closing 20 laps. He restarted 30th after incurring a speeding penalty and gained four spots to cross the finish line in 26th. The team also earned a bonus point for leading a lap.

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

“It was a long day and long night at Chicagoland. We worked hard on our Taco Bell Ford all night long, just came up a little short at the end. Our Ford was fast at times, we made a lot of adjustments and played a few of the right cards but not quite as good a night as we needed. We’ve got nine more of these things. We’ll keep working and see everybody at New Hampshire.”


David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 35
Finishing Position: 28

David Gilliland and his No. 38 Long John Silver’s team started Sunday’s race in 35th after a weekend of battling a tough-handling car. As the race went green under damp conditions, Gilliland reported his Ford Fusion was still difficult to get through the turns, much as it was in practice. By the Lap 110 red flag for rain, he was back to 38th.

But the Long John Silver’s team persevered. Nine cautions gave the crew plenty of opportunities to work on the car, and they took advantage of just about every one to make chassis or air pressure adjustments. By a Lap 168 caution, Gilliland had gained five spots to sit in 33rd, and by Lap 200 he was up to 30th. After a final pit stop with about 25 laps to go, the driver capped off the team’s solid recovery by advancing two more positions to finish 28th.

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

“Our car was fighting us all weekend. It seemed like no matter what we threw at it, we couldn’t get it to do what we wanted it to do. But it was a good recovery. We had probably a 40th-place car and we finished 28th. The guys worked hard all weekend and all day and night today. It was kind of a tough situation, sitting for half the day waiting for the rain to stop. But I’m glad we were able to get the race in and now we can concentrate on New Hampshire, where we ran really well earlier this year.”