Front Row Motorsports drivers David Gilliland and David Ragan participated in a press conference this afternoon on behalf of sponsor Glory Foods. Ragan discusses the last lap at Talladega from last weekend and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. sitting out the next couple of races. David Gilliland discusses his son’s up and coming racing career.
DAVID RAGAN – No. 34 Glory Foods Ford Fusion – WHAT DID YOU SEE ON THAT LAST LAP AT TALLADEGA? “We made it through. It wasn’t very pretty, but our team had a strategy that we felt like would be conservative. For most of the race David Gilliland and I tried to take care of our equipment throughout the race, knowing at some point during a 500-mile event at Talladega and/or Daytona, you’re gonna have a good chance to tear up a lot of race cars. We had some speed in our race cars. We both played strategy right to put ourselves in position there at the end and compete for the win. When we took the white flag, I didn’t think that we’d make it around to turn three and four, but somehow we did. When the wreck started, I was fortunate enough that I was on the very, very outside so I didn’t have any cars on the outside of me to hook me or tear up my car any worse. I was able to kind of ride the wall and ride a few cars on the outside for 100 yards or so, and then I was just fortunate I didn’t get clipped in the rear and didn’t get spun out. I was able to keep my progress going forward and somehow I got out of there. I just stayed in the gas. When you take the white flag the only thing you’re thinking about is to get back to that start-finish line, so that’s what I was thinking about. The engine was still running. I didn’t know if I had four flat tires or if anything was damaged, I just knew that I had to get back and I was fortunate enough to make it back.”
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION ABOUT DALE JR. BEING OUT THE NEXT TWO RACES? “I guess my first reaction is I was kind of floored. I was like, ‘Man, I didn’t see that coming.’ I had read some of his comments from last weekend and didn’t really see or hear that he was ailing in any way, shape, or form, but when one of your sport’s superstars has an issue like that, everyone takes notice. Then the second thing you think about is, ‘Man, I need to go talk to my interior guy, talk to my crew chief, talk to the guys that are putting our seats in and make sure everything is fine. Sometimes you take for granted when you go for an extended period of time without getting hurt or getting in a hard accident that you’re still going 200 miles an hour out there, and there are concrete barriers on each side and other race cars that you can get hurt. So I think it makes everyone realize that what we do is dangerous and we need to take every precaution to making sure our cars are as safe as possible and we’re as healthy as possible throughout the week and don’t overlook anything.”
DAVID GILLILAND – No. 38 Glory Foods Ford Fusion – YOUR SON IS A BUDDING DRIVER. WHEN WE HAVE A STORY LIKE THIS IS YOUR REACTION DIFFERENT NOW THAN MAYBE FIVE YEARS AGO? “It’s definitely surprising to hear. I’ve watched that replay quite a few times because I was in the middle of it. Tony’s looked pretty wild, but after seeing his interviews after the race and him being OK, the rest didn’t look that bad to me. I’ve hit the wall hard more than a handful of times, but when you have a son start racing it’s different. He’s seen me bumped and bruised up and he still wants to do it. The biggest thing is safety. He races quarter midgets and is probably one of three kids I’ve seen at the quarter midget track that wears a HANS device. He’s got a seat liner and his seat belts, so we take extra precaution in the safety. He runs a head rest. I don’t have him leaning out of the car like a lot of the kids do, so it’s safety first. My daughter rides horses and that’s every bit as dangerous to me. The way I go about it, just like us racing each and every week, you decide what you’re gonna do and just be as safe at it as you can. My daughter riding horses. She’s got the best helmet I could buy her and stuff like that. Stuff like the interior in our cars from a safety standpoint has come so far. You tend to overlook that nobody has gotten really hurt or sat out like Dale is this weekend in a long time, so you kind of take the safety for granted. But I feel like NASCAR has done a great job on the safety of these cars and all the safety precautions we take as drivers with the seats and everything else has come a long ways. You just want to be as safe as you can and, at the end of the day, do what you love to do.”