Love’s and Farm Rich Fords Run Up Front at Daytona

David Gilliland, No. 38 Love’s Travel Stops Ford
Starting Position: 1
Finishing Position: 35

Front Row Motorsports started Sunday’s rain-delayed Coke Zero 400 with an advantage the team had never had before: one of its entries in the pole position. David Gilliland led the field to green in the No. 38 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, ready for 160 laps of daytime racing after Saturday night’s scheduled race was postponed by steady rains.

After rolling extra pace laps under light sprinkles, NASCAR gave the field the green flag. Gilliland led the first four laps before giving up the position to Matt Kenseth. He didn’t get the chance to snag it back right away because rain sprinkles returned, forcing NASCAR to throw the yellow and then the red flag. The cars sat on pit road for nearly half an hour before the skies cleared and the field returned to green.

The action really picked up on Lap 20 with Gilliland running sixth, when a 16-car wreck triggered right behind him, and the Love’s Ford just barely avoided getting clipped in the rear by a car careening down from the top of the track. It appeared luck might truly be on the team’s side for the entire weekend.

Gilliland continued to run in the top five for much of the first part of the race, with the Roush Yates engine keeping his Ford Fusion pushing hard and the pit crew knocking off quick stops. But the earlier “Big One” would be followed by the “Bigger One” on Lap 98. With the field packed tightly on a restart, the cars of Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne made contact, setting off a 26-car pile-up that included the No. 38.

The Love’s Ford was towed to the garage with significant front-end damage while Gilliland was checked and released from the infield care center. Crew chief Frank Kerr and his team went to work on making repairs, but the rains returned and NASCAR waved the red flag once again. With the rules prohibiting crews from working on the cars during a red flag, the No. 38 team could only sit and wait out the rain.

After about an hour, the track was soaked and heavier rains were approaching. NASCAR declared the race over, with the No. 38 team never having the chance to return to the track. The result was a 35th-place finish for Gilliland and his team.

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

“I don’t know what happened. From where I was, all heck broke loose all at once and tore up a bunch of good race cars. I am proud of our guys. We started first and we wanted to finish first, and we certainly had a car capable of doing that. Our Love’s Travel Stops Ford was fast all day and sometimes that stuff just happens, and this time we were in the middle of it.”

 

David Ragan, No. 34 Farm Rich Ford
Starting Position: 8
Finishing Position: 22

David Ragan earned a top-10 starting position for his Farm Rich Ford at Daytona International Speedway. With two Sprint Cup superspeedway victories to his name, Ragan knew a trip to Victory Lane was a possibility for his No. 34 team.

Part of the strategy was playing the “rain game.” Bad weather had already postponed the Coke Zero 400 from Saturday to Sunday, and it was clear that more rain was coming. The team had to try to be up front when it hit, in case the race could not be restarted.

Rolling off eighth, Ragan settled in near the front of the pack, running as high as third before the race saw its first caution on Lap 6 when the track got another sprinkling of light rain. NASCAR called the cars to pit road under a red flag while crews worked to dry the track.

Going back to green-flag racing after a 26-minute delay, Ragan picked up where he left off, pushing his way up to second. His charge was interrupted by the first big wreck of the race, a 16-car incident on Lap 20 that happened behind him. He stayed out to lead a lap under the yellow, came to pit road for two tires and fuel, and retook the lead for the restart thanks to the fast work of the No. 34 pit crew.

The next 60 laps saw Ragan shuffled up and down the top half of the leaderboard as crew chief Jay Guy alternated pit stops of two-tire and four-tire changes. The driver had made his way back into the top 10 for a Lap 97 restart, when the biggest incident of the race knocked out half the field. A 26-car wreck, which started directly in front of Ragan, collected the Farm Rich Ford and did enough damage to send the car to the garage for repairs.

The team was about to begin its work in the garage stall when the red flag was thrown for rain, preventing the team from touching the car under NASCAR rules. After about an hour, as the rains worsened, NASCAR declared the race over, giving Ragan a 22nd-place finish. His second-best finish on the season gained him one spot in the point standings.

Comments from Farm Rich team driver David Ragan after the Daytona race:

“Our Farm Rich Ford was great today. We were fast, we led some laps and were just trying to position ourselves in the right spot for when the rains came. Unfortunately, we were in the garage when the big rain came after getting caught up in the ‘Big One.’ But until then, we were having a good weekend. Thanks to Farm Rich for the support, and thanks to all our servicemen and women on this Fourth of July weekend.”