Monday, April 2, 2012

Front Row Report: Goody's Fast Relief 500

The No. 34 of David Ragan sits on pit road.
Credit: Donny Harris
The Front Row Motorsports drivers left Auto Club Speedway last weekend with disappointing finishes after rain fell and NASCAR called the race just past the halfway point. David Ragan and David Gilliland were determined to better those results as the Sprint Cup Series traveled to Martinsville Speedway. The half-mile speedway is a favorite of Ragan’s, but for teammate Gilliland, it is a track where he has continually struggled.

David Ragan, No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford – Start: 24th, Finish: 24th

After turning a few laps in the first practice session of the weekend, David Ragan felt confident he had a good car for the race. He qualified the No. 34 Ford in the 24th position. As the race started on Sunday, Ragan began to lose a couple positions. He immediately reported that the car was a little free on entry.

The race, in atypical fashion, was one full of long green-flag runs. Those long runs worked against Ragan as his car’s handling worsened. Ragan ran solidly inside the top-25 for much of the 500-lap race, dropping outside the top-30 only a few times. On Lap 497, the caution flag waved as the No. 10 of Reutimann stalled on the track and set the race up for what would be the first of two green-white-checkered attempts.

Before a single lap could be completed on the first green-white-checkered attempt, a multi-car incident at the front of the field brought out the caution again. Ragan was still in the 25th position for the final restart. In the last two laps of the race, he gained one position to finish 24th. Ragan is now 28th in points.

David Gilliland, No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford – Start: 38th, Finish 28th

Sunday was David Gilliland’s 36th birthday, and he was hoping for a good finish at a track that has always been one of his weak points on the circuit. A disappointing qualifying effort of 38th left Gilliland with a lot of work ahead of him on Sunday. Once the race started, he continued to fight the tight-handling issue that had plagued the No. 38 Ford since the first practice session on Friday.

Gilliland struggled nearly the entire race, running outside the top-30 for much of it. However, it was the pit crew that really made the difference at the end of the day. Gilliland’s team made adjustments during every pit stop and continued to make improvements on the car’s handling. The No. 38 also made solid stops all weekend, which helped Gilliland gain positions on pit road. Gilliland was climbing toward the top-25 by the time the race reached halfway.

In the closing laps of the race, Gilliland could not advance his position any higher than 28th despite the two green-white-checkered attempts. The 28th-place finish moved him to 31st in the standings.


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