Drivers Slide through Father’s Day Race at Michigan

David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 32
Finishing Position: 26

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series celebrated Father’s Day with a 400-mile race at Michigan International Speedway. The hot, two-mile track produced some slick racing conditions on Sunday afternoon — something that would factor into the results for both Front Row Motorsports drivers.

David Gilliland started the 400-mile event in 32nd, and he would soon see the slippery conditions produce two cautions from accidents within the first eight laps. The Long John Silver’s Ford indirectly became a victim of one, collecting some right-front damage as the field checked up behind a multi-car wreck on Lap 7.

The No. 38 crew patched up its car with a couple quick pit stops under yellow and sent Gilliland back out to battle the track. Throughout the race’s 200 laps, the team mostly worked on a loose condition that would worsen in traffic. Various chassis and air-pressure adjustments did help the driver at the beginning of a run, but the car would go back to its loose condition the more laps it logged.

The team’s perseverance paid off. Gilliland hung around the top-30 mark for much of the first half of the race, but was able to find some speed in the second half to make some advances. He climbed as high as 24th with about 40 laps to go and he looked headed for a top-25 finish. But his car didn’t have the grip he needed to hold on in those final laps and he took the checkered flag in 26th. The finish was solid enough to boost the No. 38 one position in owners’ points.

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

“That was a battle the entire race. Our Long John Silver’s Ford, like a lot of other cars, would just get so loose, especially in traffic. The guys did a good job to make it better and we did gain some spots later in the race. And we’re fortunate the right front damage from that earlier wreck wasn’t worse. So, all things considered, it wasn’t a bad day. We’re excited to look ahead to Sonoma next week. It’s one of my favorite race tracks, one where we usually have success, and we can’t wait to get there.”

 

David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 33
Finishing Position: 38

David Ragan celebrated his first Father’s Day Sunday after he and his wife welcomed their first-born child on Wednesday. With mom and daughter home in North Carolina, Ragan went racing in Brooklyn, Mich., for the Sprint Cup Series’ 15th race of the season.

The No. 34 Taco Bell Ford rolled off 33rd for the 400-mile event, and Ragan quickly learned he’d have to be on his toes. Two multi-car wrecks within the first eight laps had him taking evasive measures, just barely avoiding getting damage himself.

The team had an early setback as the race approached Lap 50, with Ragan having to make an unscheduled green-flag stop with a loose wheel. About 50 laps later, the slippery track conditions claimed Ragan as their next victim. Almost immediately after the driver reported that his car was loose, the car got out from under him and spun, cutting a tire. After a quick trip to pit road under caution, Ragan returned to the field in 39th.

The team tried using an off-sequence pit strategy to its advantage in the second half of the race, but the cautions never flew at the times needed for the strategy to pay off. Ragan gained an additional position to cross the finish in 38th.

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

“We thought we had luck on our side when we first got going. We could’ve gotten caught up in the very first wreck, but managed to side-step it. But I think our luck ran out after that with the loose wheel and then the spin. We thought we’d have a chance to regain some ground with some pit strategy, but the cautions always seemed to come out a couple laps too late after we needed them. But, we’ll look forward to Sonoma. We had a pretty good car there last year, it’s always something fun and different, and we’ll look forward to it.”