Drivers Make Gains on Rough Kentucky Track

David Gilliland, No. 38 Love’s Travel Stops Ford
Starting Position: 41
Finishing Position: 30

Kentucky Speedway is one of the roughest and bumpiest tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit, and it takes a toll on the car and driver every race. The 1.5-mile oval was in its usual form Saturday night, giving David Gilliland and the Love’s Travel Stops team a challenging run.

The No. 38 Ford started 41st after a day of trying numerous approaches to better handling during practice and qualifying on Friday. Saturday’s race threw more of the same challenges at the team, with Gilliland and crew chief Frank Kerr talking much of the race about how to get the No. 38 to get around the track faster and specifically handle better going into Turn 3.

The 400-mile race only had six cautions, stringing out the field through some lengthy green-flag runs. Despite only having a handful of opportunities to adjust the car under caution, the team made some gains on the leaderboard with the improvements they were able to make. Gilliland was able to finish the 267-lap event 11 spots higher than where he started, crossing the line in 30th.

Comments from Love’s Travel Stops team driver David Gilliland after the Kentucky race:

“Kentucky used to be one of my favorite tracks since I won there in Nationwide, but, man, it’s been a rough one in the Cup series. All day Friday, the guys worked on making the car better in race trim, and we continued to work on it all through the race. I’m glad we were able to make up as many spots as we did, but I wish we had a little bit more for that track. But we’re excited to go to Daytona. We’ve got a great military tribute scheme on our Love’s Travel Stops Ford that we just unveiled and we can’t wait to hit the track in it.”

 

David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 36
Finishing Position: 31

Like the rest of the Sprint Cup field, David Ragan and the Taco Bell team knew they had a rough ride ahead of them at the start of Saturday’s Quaker State 400. They also had some unknowns, including how the track would respond after taking on a hard rain just a few hours before the race. Taking the green flag in 36th, the team was prepared to adjust throughout the race as the driver and car got acclimated to the dampened condition and setting sun.

A tight-handling car prevented Ragan from making a charge in the early going. So, the team found itself trying to gain some ground by using the “wave-around” rule to regain a lap instead of pitting, putting them on a different pit sequence than much of the field. The strategy didn’t pay off as well as hoped, with the cautions not flying at the right times during the No. 34′s fuel runs.

The team did make gains on its five pit stops, with the Taco Bell Ford performing better as the race went on. Like his teammate, Ragan gradually advanced his position over the 267 miles, and crossed the finish line in 31st.

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

“I have to say, I’m glad we only race at Kentucky once a year. That’s a track that just beats you up driving around on it for 400 miles. Our Taco Bell Ford definitely got better as the night went on, but we seemed to be on the bad side of the yellow flag again this week with it always coming out at the wrong time. We’re glad to have that one in the books so we can get ready for Daytona, which is a place where Front Row Motorsports can bounce back and have a pretty good day.”