Monday, April 23, 2012

Front Row Report: STP 400


David Gilliland, seen here at Daytona, led the way for the Front Row Motorsports
team at Kansas Speedway this weekend. Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR
The Sprint Cup Series made its first of two stops on the schedule at Kansas Speedway over the weekend. For the Front Row Motorsports, the 1.5-mile speedways have never been a track where they have been strong. The previous weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway had left David Gilliland and David Ragan looking to improve once they arrived at Kansas. The first practice session of the weekend saw Gilliland cracking the top-20 while Ragan ended up 41st. In final practice, Ragan improved to end happy hour in the 31st position, and Gilliland was 44th. Long green-flag runs and ill-handling racecars had the Front Row duo struggling once the race started.

David Ragan, No. 34 Barrett-Jackson Ford – Start: 27th, Finish: 30th

For the second time this season, the No. 34 Ford sported the black Barrett-Jackson paint scheme. Ragan powered his car to a top-25 finish with that sponsor earlier in the season, but repeating that at Kansas would be easier said than done. He took the green flag from the 27th position, but soon found himself in a hole he couldn’t find dig his way out of. Green-flag pit stops began just after Lap 40, and on Lap 48, Ragan barely made it to his pit stall when he ran out of fuel and had to coast down pit road, which put him two laps down.

With only three cautions, Ragan’s team never had much time to spend making adjustments on pit road. The No. 34 Ford seemed to have a mind of its own as the handling continually changed, and the team had to chase the changing conditions. At one point in the race, Ragan was running in the 37th position. Ragan fought hard in the closing laps of the race to finish 30th. He dropped one position to 30th in the standings.

David Gilliland, No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford – Start: 22nd, Finish: 27th

Gilliland qualified 22nd for Sunday’s race, earning his best starting position yet of the season. The No. 38 Ford had decent speed all weekend, but handling issues and changing track conditions slowed down progress once the green flag waved on Sunday. Gilliland’s team made adjustments every pit stop on a car that was just too tight and bouncing on the splitter in the early going.

He began to drift back during the long green-flag runs. The sun came out, once again causing track conditions to change. Gilliland soon reported that the No. 38 Ford was the tightest it had been all day. His team continued to make adjustments, and Gilliland began to make steady progress back toward the top-25. In the end, Gilliland finished 27th and moved up one position to 29th in the standings.

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