Drivers Bounce Back from Overheating Cars, Tempers at Martinsville

David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 39
Finishing Position: 26

Martinsville Speedway always hosts a rough-and-tumble race, and Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series event was no exception.

David Gilliland surged from the back when the 500-lap event first started, moving from 39th up to 24th by a Lap 40 caution. The No. 38 Long John Silver’s team took a gamble with a two-tire pit stop to restart 14th, but the car didn’t respond well and Gilliland fell back to the rear of the field.

From there, it was a battle for position and an ongoing effort to get the driver more control as he circled the tight-squeezing track. Like everyone else in the field, the 38 had plenty of contact with other drivers, at one point causing some front-end damage that caused some overheating and required some extra work on pit road.

Gilliland was making a comeback and running in the top 25 with 100 laps to go. But the banged-up Long John Silver’s Ford didn’t run as well as it had earlier, making the last 100 laps harder to navigate. He was running in 26th with 50 laps to go and he held that position all the way to the finish.

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

“That’s a pretty typical day at Martinsville. Everybody was beatin’ and bangin’ on each other. I think we had damage from Lap 1 even. Our Long John Silver’s Ford was good during some parts of the race and harder to handle in others. We’ll take 26th as an OK finish and get ready for Texas, which is one of my favorite tracks.”

 

David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 24
Finishing Position: 28

David Ragan and the No. 34 Taco Bell team started the STP 500 in 24th ready for battle at one of NASCAR’s toughest tracks. He would find a consistency in his car’s handling throughout the day, that it would start a little tight getting through the turns and loosen up as the run went on.

Ragan worked the handling to his advantage, making gains on other cars that would would worsen over a run. He hung inside or just outside the top-25 mark for nearly the first 200 laps.

But on Lap 184, he reported his engine temperatures were getting hot and had to bring his car to pit road to get some debris off the grille, the source of the problem. The overheating had already begun and he had to make a second stop for the team to go under the hood to replace water. The incident set him back to 37th.

Ragan spent the second half of the race making up lost ground. The No. 34 was still handling fairly well and the driver successfully picked up spots where he could. By Lap 478, he had climbed to 28th and he held that position until the checkered flag flew.

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

“Our No. 34 Taco Bell team gave me a pretty good car today. We made some good changes as the day went on and the pit crew did a good job, but the debris on the grille kept us from getting as good of a finish as we had coming to us. We actually had a better car than what our finish shows.”