Charlotte Race Report: Gilliland and Ragan Earn Top-30s under Saturday Night Lights

David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 30
Finishing Position: 30

David Ragan took the green flag from the 30th spot Saturday night under the lights of Charlotte Motor Speedway. The No. 34 Taco Bell team had worked hard over the course of the race weekend to put some extra speed in its Ford Fusion.

Throughout the race, Ragan reported his car was behaving inconsistently, and his spotter and crew chief encouraged him to keep trying different lines to find where he had the most speed. The driver had moved up to 26th by a Lap 91 restart, but still asked for help getting his car through the turns more consistently.

With few cautions, the pit crew didn’t have many opportunities to work on the car at length but made chassis and air-pressure adjustments as they could to help the car handle better. The team did make some gains over the course of the 500-mile event but didn’t have much chance to move up the leaderboard. But Ragan kept the car clean for 500 miles, crossing the line in 30th.

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

“It was kind of a long couple of days in Charlotte. We just never were able to find the right balance for our Taco Bell Ford. We tried a lot of things, made it better at times and worse at times. It was a tough race. It didn’t have a lot of cautions and we had a lot of green-flag runs, so we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to work on our Ford. But we made it through and didn’t tear anything up. I think we can adjust on it some and do better at the next mile-and-a-half track. Right now we’ll look forward to Talladega and Martinsville.”

 

David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 34
Finishing Position: 29

David Gilliland started the Bank of America 500 in the 34th position, hoping for a good run in front of NASCAR’s hometown crowd.

His first reports to crew chief Frank Kerr were that the Long John Silver’s Ford was tight. Unfortunately, that became a recurring message over the team’s radio over the course of the 334-lap race. Long green-flag runs and mostly green-flag pit stops made it extra challenging to advance as the team worked when they could to make the car turn more easily.

Gilliland stayed around the top-30 mark for much of the race. And while adjustments over the course of the night helped the No. 38 Ford with its entry and exit, the driver continued to report “tight” through the center.

The team held steady to cross the finish line in 29th, and Gilliland earned a bonus point for leading a lap under caution.

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

“We were just too tight all night. It was one of those weird races where nothing really helped, even though the guys tried like heck to work on it every time they could. I guess there were a lot of guys complaining about being tight, but there wasn’t much we could do to help our car. But we’re excited as a team to get back to Talladega next week. We can’t wait.”

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