David Ragan, Driver, No. 34 Ford

Birth Date: December 24, 1985
Birthplace: Unadilla, Ga.
Residence: Huntersville, NC
Marital Status: Single

David Ragan first hit the racetrack at age 12, beginning a racing career in the Bandolero Series in 1997. Under the guidance of his father, former Winston Cup driver Ken Ragan, the younger Ragan had years of experience before he ever took the wheel himself. Not wanting to be known as just the son of a former driver, he made sure to let his on-track performance prove that he was out to establish his own reputation. He accomplished his goal, winning 12 races and the National Championship in just his second year of competition.

Ragan continued to race in the Bandolero Series for the next two years, again winning the National Championship in 1999. He progressed to a full-size car soon after when he began competing in the Goody’s Dash Series. This move would help him prepare for the next step in his career.

Ragan partnered with Dash Series driver Cam Strader and went to work in his shop. The experience he gained would prove invaluable to his future. When they were not getting the Dash cars ready to run, they were working on two late model cars that Ragan would run the following year.

With the help of Strader, he ran several late model races across the southeast in 2002. Still too young to compete in the NASCAR divisions, he made sure he was running the most comparable equipment possible. He began his relationship with Mark Martin, driving for him in the Legends Pro-Division, finishing fourth in series points out of more than 60 drivers.

As soon as he turned 18, Ragan made his first foray in NASCAR, running select Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series events, along with a limited ARCA schedule. He qualified second in his first ARCA start, and led a number of laps before a cut tire took him out of contention. It was obvious his hard work and preparation were well on the way to paying off, and he was on his way to making it in NASCAR’s premier series.

After participating in Roush’s “Driver X” competition in 2005, Ragan was selected as co-driver of the No.6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford F-150 with teammate Mark Martin. In the 19 races that he started in the Camping World Truck Series, he was able to achieve one top five, eight top 10s and one pole. He also competed in a select number of Nationwide and Cup series events. Ragan’s hard work really paid off toward the end of the 2006 season when he was selected by Jack Roush to be the driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion in the Sprint Cup Series in 2007.

Ragan proved Roush had made the right decision, finishing the 2007 season as runner-up for the Rookie of the Year title in the Sprint Cup Series and winning Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. In addition, he had two top-five finishes, including a fifth-place finish in the 2007 Daytona 500 and a third-place finish at Richmond in the fall.

The 2008 season marked Ragan’s sophomore season in the Sprint Cup Series. In just his second year competing full-time in the series, he finished 13th in the point standings and earned six top- five and 14 top-10 finishes, all while barely missing the cut-off for the Chase. He led the Sprint Cup Series in number of laps completed and earned the respect of many of the veterans in the sport. On top of competing full-time in the Sprint Cup Series, he also was one of four drivers that pulled double duty competing full-time in the Nationwide Series as well. He finished out the Nationwide Series fourth in the point standings with seven top-five and 21 top-10 finishes.

The 2009 season was Ragan’s first year with UPS as his primary sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series. He finished the Cup season with two top-10 and six top-15 finishes while earning his first two victories in the Nationwide Series at Talladega and Bristol. Despite only running a partial Nationwide schedule, he earned five top-five and 15 top-10 finishes in the series, including his two victories.

In 2010, Ragan kicked off his second season in the No. 6 UPS Ford under the direction of crew chief Donnie Wingo; but with nine races remaining in the season, Drew Blickensderfer took over control of the team. In the final nine races his average starting position went up over eight positions and his average finish over two. He finished out 2010 with three top-10 and eight top- 15 finishes, while also completing 97.8 percent of the scheduled race laps.

With the Ragan-Blickensderfer team paired up again in 2011, their first full season together proved their early chemistry was no fluke. After nearly winning the season-opening Daytona 500 (but forfeiting the lead after a green-white-checkered rule violation), Ragan finally earned his first Sprint Cup Series victory in July at Daytona International Speedway. He also took a trip to Victory Lane in the non-points Sprint Showdown, earning a starting position in the 2011 All- Star Race, where he went on to finish eighth. In a season that proved he has what it takes to win, he notched one victory, and four top-five and eight top-10 finishes.

The end of 2011 brought organizational change to Roush Fenway Racing. The economic climate had left the No. 6 Ford without a primary sponsor for 2012 and the team was forced to downsize. The decision left Ragan a free agent and led to an opportunity to drive Front Row Motorsports’ No. 34 Ford in 2012. The young team, entering only its fourth full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series, will pair Ragan with veteran crew chief Jay Guy. The new partnership offers great promise for a team that has improved in each year of its short NASCAR history – and looking for even bigger strides with Ragan at the wheel.

   

David Gilliland, Driver No. 38 Ford

Birth Date: April 1, 1976
Birthplace: Riverside, Calif.
Resides: Mooresville, N.C.
Wife: Michelle
Children: Todd and Taylor

Growing up in a race shop as the son of a stock-car driver, David Gilliland was destined for a career in racing. He spent his early years working on cars in the California shop of his father, former NASCAR Winston West Series driver Butch Gilliland. Already an experienced mechanic by his high-school years, Gilliland was named crew chief of his father’s team at the young age of 19. When the team won the 1997 NASCAR Winston West Series Championship the following year, Gilliland added Champion Crew Chief of the Year to his already impressive young résumé.

After spending all that time under the hood, Gilliland soon got the itch to get behind the wheel. He began competing in 1998 on the dirt track of Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway and, in seven starts, the rookie stock car driver took the checkered flag twice. Once he got to experience driving a car into Victory Lane, there was no turning back. Gilliland drove a full schedule at Perris Auto Speedway the following year, winning 14 of 15 heat races and nine of the 15 main-event races in the stock car division.

In 2000, Gilliland added the title of team owner to his bio. He put together a late-model team and ran full-time at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, earning two wins. A year later, he joined the NASCAR Southwest Tour and continued his winning ways, claiming his first regional touring race victory in only his fourth start in the series. He continued to turn heads the following season, earning five wins and finishing in the top 10 of the Southwest Tour standings.

With his impressive abilities, Gilliland never stayed at the same level for very long. He was always looking ahead for the next challenge. In 2004, while continuing to run in the Southwest Series, he also tried his hand at the NASCAR Grand National West Series. It didn’t long for his talents to show through at that level. Before a hometown crowd at Mesa Marin Raceway, Gilliland drove to Victory Lane in only his second West Series start. He also captured Rookie of the Year honors with his one win, seven top-5s and nine top-10s. The following year, he won the West Series’ Toyota All-Star Showdown – his biggest victory to date. But that win was just a precursor to what would happen the following year.

After 10 years of showcasing his crew chief and driver skills on the West Coast, Gilliland now had his sights set on top-tier NASCAR racing. So, in 2006, he took his family and his dreams across the country to Charlotte, N.C. The risky move paid off, as he was soon hired to drive for Clay Andrews’ NASCAR Nationwide team. The car was unsponsored and underfunded, so the team only drove a partial schedule. But that didn’t stop Gilliland from making the biggest splash of the 2006 Nationwide season on June 17 at Kentucky Speedway. That night, the racing world stood up and took notice of the rookie Gilliland when he took the checkered flag and became the first non-Sprint Cup regular to win a Nationwide race that year.

Thrust into the racing limelight after just seven starts, Gilliland quickly got his chance to compete at the highest level, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The very week after the dramatic Kentucky win, owner Bryan Mullet put the red-hot rookie in a Cup ride at Infineon (Calif.) Raceway, where the team finished 32nd. Gilliland then landed a ride for the rest of the Sprint Cup season with Robert Yates Racing, where he drove the final 14 races in the No. 38 Ford with support from the Mars family. Just as he had at every other level of racing, he proved he belonged, capturing one pole and two top-15 finishes.

Gilliland returned to Yates for his first full-time season in 2007, and started off the year with a bang when he captured the pole for the Daytona 500. He went on to earn one top- five and two top-10 finishes for the year. He matched that record in his second full-time season for Yates in 2008 with another top-five and two top-10s.

The 2009 season brought a move to TRG Motorsports, a race team with a history of success on the sports car circuit but relatively new to the NASCAR garage. Gilliland made 25 starts for the young team, some of which were cut short by mechanical issues. During the final nine races of the season, Gilliland split time in TRG’s No. 71 Chevrolet with former Sprint Cup Champion Bobby Labonte. When Gilliland wasn’t in the 71, he picked up rides with Robby Gordon Motorsports, Wood Brothers Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and Phoenix Racing.

The accomplished driver was exactly what Front Row Motorsports needed in 2010. The team was young but quickly expanding, and owner Bob Jenkins pursued Gilliland to put him behind the wheel of the No. 38 Taco Bell Ford. Joining Front Row gave Gilliland some stability and also familiarity, reuniting him with Ford and former Yates teammate Travis Kvapil.

Despite the fact that the team was assembled just a few weeks before the season-opening Daytona 500, Gilliland and his crew regularly put a fast car on the track and produced strong results in their first year together. He earned three top-20 finishes and laid a good foundation with crew chief Peter Sospenzo for their return to the Taco Bell Fusion in 2011.

Kicking off his second season with Front Row, Gilliland started off the 2011 campaign with a stunning third-place finish at the Daytona 500 – a feat he said was just as big as his Kentucky Nationwide win. Gilliland and his team went on to capture a total of one top- five, two top-10, three top-15 and four top-20 finishes on the season, making his mark on superspeedways and road courses in particular.

Gilliland returns to Front Row and his original No. 38 Ford in 2012 to build on his accomplishments. The veteran driver in the stable, Gilliland is a vital member of this still-growing team and looks to further make his mark in the Sprint Cup Series in 2012 and beyond.