DAYTONA BEACH, FL - When the checkered flag waves on Sunday's Daytona 500, don't be surprised if you see Unadilla's David Ragan or his teammate David Gilliland steering a Ford Fusion toward Victory Lane.
The two Front Row Motorsports drivers are among the best restrictor-plate racers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. And their average finish of 8.5 in the past four starts at Daytona International Speedway makes them serious contenders in the Great American Race.
Ragan earned his first career Cup win last July at the superspeedway and Gilliland earned a team-history-best third-place finish in the 2011 Daytona 500.
Both drivers will compete in Thursday's Gatorade Duel No. 1 to determine their starting positions in Sunday's season-opening points race. Ragan will start ninth in the 60-lap qualifying race and Gilliland will start 23rd. Both have guaranteed starting positions in Sunday's 500-miler, but the outcome of the duels sets the starting grid for the main event.
The race weekend marks the debut of ModSpace on the Nos. 34 and 38 Fords. "ModSpace is very excited to kick off the 2012 Cup season with Front Row Motorsports this weekend," stated William Mann, vice president of ModSpace Motorsports. "Since we announced our partnership, Front Row Motorsports has done a great job representing our brand. Both David Gilliland and David Ragan are strong on superspeedways, so there is a great deal of promise that either of these drivers may win the Daytona 500."
Gilliland agrees the team is capable of delivering a victory. "It's been great to finally get in the car and go racing here in Daytona," said Gilliland. "I feel really good about our chances at this track, especially knowing how well we ran last year. So, I hope to be standing in Victory Lane on Sunday thanking partners like ModSpace for their support."
The last time Ragan was in a points race at Daytona, he was getting champagne sprayed in his face - a scene he believes he can return to with Front Row Motorsports.
"Absolutely we can get there," said Ragan. "This team has proven that it can run up front at the plate races and that's where we intend to be. I'm really proud of (crew chief) Jay Guy and the guys for our top-15 qualifying run on Sunday. I think we can give ModSpace and all our partners a pretty good run. I absolutely like our chances."