Gilliland, Ragan Earn Top-25s at Loudon

David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford
Starting Position: 33
Finishing Position: 24

David Gilliland earned a top-25, lead-lap finish Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, battling a tough-handling car on an always-challenging racetrack.

The No. 38 Long John Silver’s team started 33rd for the event on the one-mile flat oval — a track notoriously difficult for turning through the corners. Gilliland found out early that this would be his main challenge on the day.

But perseverance, along with the some good luck, was on the team’s side. Long green-flag runs on a one-mile track can make it challenging to stay on the lead lap. And even though Gilliland was not always on the lead lap, it was always within reach thanks to smart pit strategy and fortunate timing. The caution flags played in the team’s favor, twice granting the No. 38 the “Lucky Dog” pass, which allows the first car a lap down to regain a lap.

The team kept working on its car on every pit stop, as Gilliland gradually made gains on the leaderboard. The final piece of good fortune came with just three scheduled laps to go, when the No. 38 was in 28th and the first car a lap down. The caution flag waved, giving Gilliland the free pass back onto the lead lap and the chance to pit for four fresh tires.

As the field lined up for a green-white-checkered finish, Gilliland fell in line in 27th, with two laps ahead of him to make a final charge. He pushed his way past three cars, including his teammate, to cross the finish line in 24th. The finish was his fifth top-25 result of the season.

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

“I’m proud of our effort today. Our Long John Silver’s Ford was not the best this weekend. It just did not like this flat track. But we kept working on it, never gave up, and kept ourselves in position to benefit when the yellows flew. Knowing what we were up against, I’ll take a top-25.”

 

David Ragan, No. 34 Taco Bell Ford
Starting Position: 26
Finishing Position: 25

Front Row Motorsports brought home a pair of top-25 finishes Sunday, with David Ragan finishing 25th despite some late-race contact that sent him to pit road with some damage.

Ragan’s day began with a 26th-place starting spot for the 301-lap race. His No. 34 team had found decent speed in its Taco Bell Ford and knew Ragan could have a good day. For most of the race, the driver had few complaints about the handling of his car — just a little tightness that was more pronounced on some runs than others.

Ragan stayed just above the top-30 mark for most of the race as the No. 34 crew tweaked the car’s set-up to help the driver through the corners. With long stretches of green-flag laps, the field spread out and the leaders put the No. 34 a lap down for the middle part of the race. But a timely caution on Lap 212 gave Ragan the chance to get a lap back instead of pitting. A Lap 219 restart had him in 27th with a well-balanced car, and he was ready to push his way into the top 25.

His progress was interrupted on Lap 298 with just three laps to go when he made contact with the No. 51 of Justin Allgaier, sending Allgaier into the wall and giving the Taco Bell Ford some damage as well. Under the ensuing caution, Ragan came to pit road for quick repairs to the car’s right rear and made it back out for the restart without losing a lap.

The accident set up a green-white-checkered finish, sending the race into overtime beyond its scheduled 301 laps. Ragan lined up 26th for the restart, and despite the damage, gained an additional position over the final two laps to take the checkers in 25th after 305 laps.

The finish was his third top-25 of the season and gained the No. 34 one spot in owners’ points.

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

“Our Taco Bell Ford was actually pretty good today. Our guys on pit road had a pretty good day and we had a caution or two fall our way to help as well. I feel bad that we got some damage so close to the end there, but the pit crew got it patched up quickly and sent us back out so we could still get a good finish. We’ve certainly had our share of bad luck the first part of the season, so we’ll go into the off week looking to recharge and hit the reset button, and we’ll be good to go for Indianapolis.”