Bristol substitute driver report
Photo by Pat Brandon
David Ragan (left) talks with David Gilliland at Auto Club Speedway in March.
Four interim drivers were among the 43 drivers in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway In Support of Steve Byrnes. Below is a breakdown on how each fared.
No. 11 Erik Jones
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones was tabbed to fill in for Denny Hamlin after Hamlin suffered a neck spasm during the first run of the race.
18-year-old Jones was involved in the lap 474 accident, but brought the No. 11 Toyota Camry 26th, five laps down.
“I learned a ton,” Jones said of his day. “I wish we could start the night over and do it all again. It was an interesting situation for sure. I never turned a lap in one of these cars until the green flag dropped. It was interesting and I learned a ton. I can’t wait to try it again.”
David Ragan started from the 11th place starting position, running inside the top-15 early in the race. Ragan received a pit road speeding penalty under the first competition caution while running ninth.
Ragan was collected in the lap 291 wreck with Jimmie Johnson, Jeb Burton and Kevin Harvick while running two laps down.
“Our guys had worked hard and we had a pit road problem – lost a couple laps, but we were still out there trying to get the best finish we could,” Ragan said. “It’s unfortunate.”
Ragan finished 41st, dropping Ragan eight positions in driver points to 18th overall, four points outside of the Chase cutoff.
No. 34 Chris Buescher
Bristol marked Buescher’s fourth consecutive race in the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion.
Buescher, who started 38th fell a lap down before the race’s first red flag period, finished 25th, six laps down. The effort was his third top-25 finish in four races.
“Overall, it was a good day for our CSX Play It Safe Ford guys,” Buescher said. “They did a heck of a job keeping up with me and being patient and letting me learn how to get around this place and learn how to pass. It was a narrow groove. It was really hard to pass tonight even more so than the XFINITY race, so that was frustrating, but I think it’s kind of been a characteristic of Bristol lately.”
Reed Sorenson will be in the No. 34 next weekend at Richmond International Raceway with Buescher returning to the seat at Talladega Superspeedway.
No. 55 Brett Moffitt
Moffitt entered his fifth race in the No. 55 and fourth consecutive at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Moffitt’s 24th starting position was his best qualifying effort since his 22nd place starting position at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Moffit, like Ragan, received a penalty for too fast exiting pit road under the first competition caution period.
Moffitt finished 17th, two laps down. The result was his best finish since an eighth place run at Atlanta.