Front Row Report: Food City 500

David Ragan, No. 34 Ford.
Credit: Whitney Richards/Skirts and Scuffs
The Front Row Motorsports drivers came to Bristol Motor Speedway following a somewhat decent run at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the weekend before. David Ragan fought an ill-handling car all weekend to earn a  top-25 finish. David Gilliland narrowly missed a top-25 finish by one position, and Josh Wise’s day came to an end early in the race, resulting in a last-place finish.

David Ragan, No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford -- Start: 31st, Finish 23rd.

For David Ragan, it seemed as though the race at Bristol was going to be a bigger challenge than the No. 34 team thought. In every practice session, Ragan and his team spent a lot of time making adjustments to a car that would not handle well. He qualified 31st on Friday, and on Sunday, Ragan even spent some time before the race with his team, making adjustments to the car. Once the race started, it was apparent that those changes helped, but Ragan was still fighting a car that was too loose.

With long green flag runs, and very few cautions, Ragan was left fighting for every position he could possibly get. The No. 34 pit crew were on top of their game and helped Ragan gain a couple positions during pit stops. Ragan ran around the 30th position for much of the race, but began to slowly move up toward the halfway point. For the final restart of the race, on Lap 483, Ragan was 25th, but picked up two positions before the checkered flag waved to finish 23rd, earning his third consecutive top-25 finish.

David Gilliland, No. 38 Taco Bell Ford -- Start 26th, Finish: 26th.

Much like his teammate, David Gilliland struggled much of the weekend at Bristol as well. In practice, he was toward the back of the pack. He took the green flag on Sunday from the 26th position. Gilliland spent most of the race just inside the top-30. During a cycle of green-flag pit stops, he was penalized for speeding as he exited pit road and had to serve a pass-through penalty.

From that point on, Gilliland clawed his way back toward the top-25. Being four laps down, there were only four more positions he could have possibly gained as the race wound down. Late in the race, he brushed the wall going into turn 3, but it did not damage the car enough to warrant a pit stop so he stayed out to try and gain any positions he could. He ultimately finished 26th.

Josh Wise, No. 26 Morristown Drivers Service Ford -- Start: 37th, Finish 43rd.

Unfortunately for Josh Wise, his weekend at Bristol was a struggle from the start. In the three practice sessions, Wise was between the 34th and 40th positions.

The No. 26 team’s struggles only got worse on Sunday. Just 16 laps into the race, Wise made the left turn into the infield after a mechanical failure on his car sent him to the garage, ending his day early. He finished 43rd.

Race winner: Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge

The closing laps of the Food City 500 were all about Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth. Both drivers were pretty evenly matched, and it took all Keselowski had to keep Kenseth behind him. A few times, it turned into a side-by-side battle for the lead, but eventually Keselowski was able to pull away from Kenseth to take the checkered flag when all was said and done.

Front Row Report: Food City 500 Front Row Report: Food City 500 Reviewed by Whitney on Monday, March 19, 2012 Rating: 5