Hollywood Casino 400 Race Report: Gilliland Rebounds, Ragan Wrecks

David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 32
Finishing Position: 36

David Ragan took the green flag for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 in 32nd. After three days of trying to get their Taco Bell Ford to adjust to the 1.5-mile track on a new type of tire, the No. 34 team rolled their car to the starting grid with new changes for the 267-lap event.

The changes proved to be good ones. Ragan moved up into the top 25 for the first 100 laps of the race, and the team didn’t make any adjustments to the car during its first three quick pit stops.

Ragan continued to hang around the top 25 for the middle portion of the race, despite a set of sticker tires that made the car too loose off the corners. By a Lap 160 restart, he was in 22nd. Unfortunately, the team’s day would come to an end several laps later when Ragan got loose and spun coming off of Turn 2. He hit the inside wall, causing significant damage to the front and right side of the car.

The team assessed the damage in the garage and determined they could not return to the track. Ragan was credited with a 36th-place finish and earned a bonus point for leading a lap during the race.

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

“Kansas got the best of me today. We had a pretty good Taco Bell Ford and just made a mistake coming off of Turn 2. I was a little too high. I should’ve backed out of it and stayed in the throttle. But I was racing for position and spun out and tore our racecar up. It was a mistake that cost us what could’ve been a good finish. I missed a good opportunity for a good points day and an even better finish. But we’ve still got a lot of racing left this year. We’ll get ‘em back next week in Charlotte.”

 

David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 34
Finishing Position: 24

David Gilliland and the No. 38 Long John Silver’s team earned a top-25 finish on Sunday with a smartly called race and a never-give-up attitude. The team started 34th on the grid with a car that had been difficult to get dialed in all weekend.

Just a few short laps into the race, the driver reported his car was still a handful. But the No. 38 team had plenty of opportunities to make adjustments to their car on pit road. The trend of cars spinning out — which began during the weekend’s practice sessions — continued in the race, which saw a total of 15 cautions for 71 laps.

Around the half-way mark, Gilliland was in 34th and had fallen two laps down. But the team persevered, continuing to make changes at every opportunity, and in the second half of the race the car responded. Smart calls by crew chief Frank Kerr put his driver in the right place at the right time, twice earning Gilliland the “Lucky Dog” pass to get each of his two laps back.

The moves set up Gilliland to make a push from the 32nd position for the final 100 laps. Moving up the field as high as 18th at one point, Gilliland got much more out of his car in the final portion of the race than he had all weekend. His final surge came with 19 laps to go, taking a restart in 28th. The fast Long John Silver’s Ford was able to gain four additional spots to cross the line in 24th for one of the team’s hardest-fought top-25 finishes of the season.

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

“That was a great finish for our team. We struggled all weekend, but this team never gave up. Frank called a great race and the guys did a good job on pit road with all the adjustments all afternoon. When we got toward the end of the race, it was a completely different car than what we’d had all weekend. To come away with a top-25, lead-lap finish, that was a great turnaround for us.”

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