Top-25s for Love’s and CSX Fords at Michigan

David Gilliland, No. 38 Love’s Travel Stops Ford
Starting Position: 29
Finishing Position: 21

The big and fast Michigan International Speedway saw David Gilliland earn his third straight top-25 finish in the Love’s Travel Stop Ford. The No. 38 team felt good about its car from the first few practice laps on Friday, and was eager to get racing on Sunday.

Gilliland started 29th and moved up into the top 25 within eight laps, saying his car was handling well and had good speed. He also had good reflexes, escaping several near-misses after a nine-car accident unfolded in front of him on Lap 25.

A pit sequence different from the leaders allowed the No. 38 team to climb as high as seventh during the first half of the race, as Gilliland solidly staked a position within or near the top 20 for most of the event’s 200 laps.

If not for a couple long green-flag runs that spread out the field — plus an episode of coasting into the pits after running out of gas — Gilliland might have had his third top-20 finish of the season. Nonetheless, his Love’s Ford carried him to a 21st-place finish, a result that significantly tightened the gap between the No. 38 and the team one spot ahead in both owner and driver points (in 30th).

The team has a chance to overtake the 30th position next weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, where Front Row Motorsports and Gilliland have a historically strong track record.

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

“Our Love’s Travel Stops Ford was pretty fast today. We had some things go against us, but even with those things, to get a finish just outside the top 20, that’s not a bad day at all. It was a good day for us in points, and we know we can carry that right into Bristol, which is one of my favorite tracks and a place where we know we can run well.”

 

David Ragan, No. 34 CSX “Play It Safe” Ford
Starting Position: 34
Finishing Position: 24

David Ragan drove the CSX “Play It Safe” Ford to a top-25 finish at NASCAR’s fastest track on Sunday. The No. 34 team started 34th at Michigan International Speedway, the two-mile oval known for its 200-mile-per-hour-plus speeds.

The first run of the No. 34 Ford after the green flag dropped had Ragan asking for help with a loose race car. But the CSX crew made improvements with each pit stop in the first half of the race, giving the driver a better car to work with as the laps progressed. Multiple early cautions resulted in varying pit sequences throughout the field, with Ragan climbing as high as seventh on the leaderboard as the cars cycled through their stops.

Ragan’s strong day got tripped up by a pit road speeding penalty after a Lap 75 green-flag stop. And while the No. 34 Ford was turning solid laps the rest of the day, it was challenging to make up the lost ground.

The driver picked off spots, though, one at a time. After rejoining the field in 30th after the pass-through penalty, Ragan gradually pushed his way to the top 25 with 50 laps to go. The team weighed yellow-flag pit opportunities with chances to gain or maintain track position several times in the final 100 miles, taking advantage of both to climb one more spot in the final laps to cross the finish line in 24th.

Comments from CSX team driver David Ragan after the Michigan race:

“That was a solid day for our CSX ‘Play It Safe’ team. I think our car was actually better than where we finished. We had a speeding penalty on a green-flag stop that hurt us. But overall it was a pretty good day on a really fast track. Now we’ll change gears and go short-track racing at Bristol.”