Rain and Wrecks Wreak Havoc on Daytona 500

David Gilliland, No. 38 Love’s Travel Stops Ford
Starting Position: 17
Finishing Position: 36

David Gilliland and his Love’s Travel Stops team had high expectations for the Daytona 500. After having a fast Ford Fusion all week, finishing the Duel eighth and starting Sunday’s race in 17th, the team was ready to compete.

During the early part of the race, it looked like they would, with Gilliland surging up to the top 10 and logging laps for a while in seventh.

Forecasters were calling for rain all day, and it finally came to bring out the red flag on Lap 39. And it would be a long delay — more than six hours before the Daytona 500 resumed under the lights after 8:30 p.m. Restarting in 38th, Gilliland was eager to get going again.

But “The Big One” was looming. On Lap 146, a pile-up collected 13 cars, including the Love’s Ford Fusion, which suffered nose damage and had to be towed to the garage after getting stuck in the soggy grass of the tri-oval.

The No. 38 team was able to make repairs and send Gilliland back out to gain multiple positions and finish in 36th.

Comments from Love’s Travel Stops team driver David Gilliland after the Daytona 500:

“We had a great car. Our Love’s Travel Stops Ford was fast all week, and it felt great as the race got started. We were just taking it easy, logging laps up toward the front. After the rain delay, we were toward the back and we just wanted to hang out there for a while. But we got caught up in that wreck and it spun me into the grass and I got stuck there, and they had to tow it to the garage to fix it. I’m proud of the guys, though. They worked really hard all Speedweeks and all winter, really, to put a great car on the track. There were a lot of wrecked cars out there today and unfortunately we were one of them.”

 

David Ragan, No. 34 CSX “Play It Safe” Ford
Starting Position: 43
Finishing Position: 34

David Ragan started the Daytona 500 from the rear of the field after a last-lap wreck in his Duel forced him into a back-up car for Sunday’s race.

Like the message on the quarter panels of his CSX Ford, he decided to “Play It Safe” and log laps toward the back of the pack in the early part of the race.

When showers doused Daytona International Speedway to bring out the red flag for several hours, Ragan and his team had flashbacks to May of last year, when a similar scenario resulted in the team’s first win at Talladega Superspeedway.

But the events would not repeat. After the race returned to green, the No. 34 Ford was struck with a mechanical issue. During a Lap 88 pit stop, the transmission broke, forcing the team to take its car to the garage. The crew was able to make repairs and return Ragan to the track to gain some points. In a race filled with numerous wrecks, attrition worked on the No. 34 team’s side, with Ragan gaining eight spots to finish 34th.

Comments from CSX “Play It Safe” team driver David Ragan after the Daytona 500:

“Well, it was a long Daytona 500. Our CSX team had a good car and a fast car but we had a transmission go out and we had to come to the garage and change it. We were able to get back out and collect a few points, but it was definitely not the Daytona 500 we all hoped for. We’ll try to diagnose what the problem was and learn from it, and we’ll look forward to Phoenix.”

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