Drivers Earn Season’s Best Finishes at Bristol

David Ragan, No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford
Starting Position: 30
Finishing Position: 21

David Ragan and the No. 34 team earned their first top-25 finish of the 2013 season, overcoming multiple challenges in the process. After qualifying 30th, Ragan had to drop to the rear for the race start due to the team changing the engine on Saturday. Then, in the early laps of the race, the driver reported a potential fuel-pressure problem from the cockpit — an issue that was later resolved.

But for the bulk of the 500-lap event, the main issue the team worked on was getting the car to turn better in the center of the turns. With 10 caution periods, the race offered plenty of chances to bring the car to pit road for adjustments and the Dockside Logistics team kept working at it. By the half-way point, Ragan was into the top 25.

As traditional at Bristol, Sunday’s race was one of attrition, with multiple cars wrecking out. Ragan avoided the on-track trouble and climbed the leaderboard when opportunity knocked. He battled hard to grab a final few positions in the closing laps of the race, crossing the finish line in 21st. He also led two laps during an early caution to gain a bonus point in the standings.

Comments from Dockside Logistics team driver David Ragan after the Bristol race:

“Considering that we had to start from the back, not a bad finish for us. We had a fuel issue early on and we got that figured out. Our Dockside Logistics team did a nice job on pit road. We pitted a lot and worked on it a lot, we had a good strategy and Jay (Guy) called a good race. It was a hard race. We had a solid car and we just needed to qualify a little better and start in a better position. We were down from the beginning but the whole team worked hard to overcome it.”

David Gilliland, No. 38 A&W All American Food Ford

Starting Position: 14
Finishing Position: 24

David Gilliland and his No. 38 team had high expectations for their A&W Ford Sunday after qualifying in the top 15 and running second-fastest in final practice.

Starting in 14th, Gilliland’s Ford Fusion continued to show speed after the green flag waved, staying in the top 15 for most of the first 150 laps of the 500-lap event. Unfortunately, the strong run hit the wall on Lap 151 when the No. 38’s right front tire blew.

Despite having body and suspension damage, the A&W team used every chance and every pit stop to make the car better and finish strong. After returning to the track in 36th, Gilliland battled back, racing the cars he could race for position, and crossed the line in 24th for his first top-25 finish of the season.

Comments from A&W Restaurants team driver David Gilliland after the Bristol race:

“A top-25 isn’t a bad result after what happened, but obviously we’re a little frustrated because we had potential for a lot better finish. Our A&W Ford was fast. Frank (Kerr) and the guys brought a fast car to the track. We showed that in practice and qualifying and at the beginning of the race. But we blew a right front and hit the wall, and at a track like Bristol, it’s hard to come back from that. But we didn’t give up, we kept battling and still got our best finish of the year so far.”

Josh Wise, No. 35 MDS Transport Ford

Starting Position: 40
Finishing Position: 26

Josh Wise and the No. 35 MDS Transport team started the Food City 500 in a less-than-advantageous position, toward the back in 40th. But they didn’t let that hold them back. Wise’s Ford Fusion took off in the opening laps, climbing 10 positions by Lap 17.

With the high groove being the preferred and safer line for the first part of the race, Wise got into a rhythm to log solid lap times — and even ran faster than the leaders at times. With 10 cautions for wrecking or spinning cars, there was plenty of opportunity to get caught up in other drivers’ messes. But Wise avoided any serious trouble throughout the afternoon, with his biggest battle being a tight-handling car.

He knocked on the door of a top-25 finish as the checkered flag was in sight, but came up just a bit short to cross the line in 26th for his best finish of the season.

Comments from MDS Transport team driver Josh Wise after the Bristol race:

“That was a fun race. Our MDS Transport Ford was tight for a lot of the race but Steven Lane and the guys worked hard on it to make it better. We had our battles within the race, won some and lost some. But overall it was a good day for our team and now we get ready to head home to California next week.”