CSX and A&W Fords Fight the Wall to the Finish, Gain Points at Darlington

David Gilliland, No. 38 A&W All American Food Ford
Starting Position: 27
Finishing Position: 28

The track known to be “Too Tough to Tame” lived up to its reputation Saturday night. Almost no one was spared damage, including the Front Row Motorsports drivers.

David Gilliland started 27th for the 501-mile event, and the first half of the race was mostly about holding on. The No. 38 A&W All American Food Ford could not grip the slick track at all — a common complaint across all teams — and multiple pit-stop adjustments didn’t seem to help. Gilliland fell back as far as 40th.

When the sun eventually set and the track started to cool down, continued adjustments finally were able to help. More grip, good adjustments and quick pit stops helped Gilliland get up to 32nd with about 100 laps to go. Despite getting some damage from a knock against the wall, he persevered to climb four more spots for a green-white-checkered finish. He crossed the line in 28th, a personal best for Gilliland at the always-tough track. He also gained one spot in the driver point standings.

Comments from A&W All American Food team driver David Gilliland after the Darlington race:

“That was almost two separate races for us there. The car was so loose for the first half of the race, and then we finally got it handling better later on. If we had started the race after dark, I think we might have been in better shape. But that’s part of what makes this race so tough every year. The ‘Lady in Black’ gets a little moody every year and this year was no different.”

 

David Ragan, No. 34 CSX “Play It Safe” Ford
Starting Position: 32
Finishing Position: 32

David Ragan battled the “Lady in Black” all night long Saturday, both in terms of handling and getting roughed up.

The CSX “Play It Safe” driver took the green flag in 32nd. Like most other cars in the field, the No. 34 Ford Fusion was lacking grip around the 1.366-mile oval in the early laps. And the longer the run, the looser the car became.

The looseness eventually resulted in a brush with the wall on Lap 119, causing some right-side damage. Several laps later, as the caution flag flew for another car, Ragan’s right-front tire blew, sending him back hard into the wall. The team pitted multiple times to repair right-front damage and correct the toe. The accident and time on pit road knocked Ragan several positions back and off the lead lap.

With still more than 150 laps to go, Ragan was in 36th and still running strong enough to make some gains. Despite taking on some additional damage after contact again with the wall as well as with the No. 32 car, Ragan was able to advance multiple spots in the closing laps to cross the line in 32nd in a green-white-checkered finish. He earned a bonus point for leading a lap, and he gained two spots in the driver point standings.

Comments from CSX “Play It Safe” team driver David Ragan after the Darlington race:

“Well, that’s pretty much what you expect from Darlington. You probably can’t read the right-side numbers on anybody’s car after that race. Our CSX Ford was actually better than what our finish showed. We cut a right front tire and got into the wall and had to spend a bunch of time on pit road fixing it. But the guys did a good job on it all night. We’ll catch our breath and regroup on this off week and get back at it in Richmond in two weeks.”