Former NASCAR Cup driver David Ragan will come out of retirement to race in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Richmond Raceway on April 18.
The 34-year-old Ragan will drive the No. 17 Ford F-150 for DGR-Crosley, the team announced Wednesday. The truck will be sponsored by Select Blinds.
The race marks the first time Trucks have raced at the ¾-mile track since 2005. It also will be Ragan’s first time in a truck since 2006.
Even though he has stepped away from full-time racing, Ragan is still keeping busy, including moving into a development role with Ford Performance, where he assists teams with simulator work and is also part of the development team for the NextGen car that will debut in 2021.
“I’m really looking forward to racing one of DGR-Crosley’s F-150’s at Richmond,” Ragan said in a media release. “I’ve been friends with David (team co-owner David Gilliland) for a long time, and I see how much work he’s putting into this team and the success they’ve had early on.
“They have a shop full of great people and I’m glad that we could make all this happen.”
Ragan has over 30 combined Cup, Xfinity and Truck series starts at Richmond. Next month’s race will be his second start of the year, having finished fourth in the season-opening Daytona 500 driving for Rick Ware Racing.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve raced in the Truck Series, and I’m incredibly thankful to Select Blinds for supporting me and allowing me to do this,” Ragan said. “This is what I wanted to do when I decided to stop racing full-time at the end of last season; I want to race in different series, with different teams.
“Obviously, we want to be competitive, and I have no doubt that DGR-Crosley will bring me a great truck. Richmond has always been one of my favorite tracks that we race at; hopefully, we can get the folks from Select Blinds another good finish this year and put on a good show for the fans.”
Front Row Motorsports is expanding its NASCAR presence, announcing Monday it has formed a partnership with DGR-Crosley to compete full-time in the 2020 NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series.
Todd Gilliland, the 19-year-old son of NASCAR driver David Gilliland, will pilot the No. 38 Ford F-150 for the Mooresville, North Carolina organization.
This will be the younger Gilliland’s third full-time season in the Truck Series, having previously competed in 48 starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Gilliland has one win (2019 at Martinsville), as well as 12 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes.
The younger Gilliland also recorded 20 wins in a combined 53 starts in the former NASCAR K&N Pro West and East series (now known as the NASCAR ARCA Menards West and East series). He won back-to-back championships in the K&N West series in 2016 and 2017. He also has two wins in nine starts in the ARCA Menards Series.
“I’m really looking forward to racing an F-150 in the Truck Series this year with Front Row Motorsports as part of the Ford family,” Todd Gilliland said in a media release. “I’ve been around (FRM owner) Bob Jenkins and the whole Front Row crew for a long time growing up with my dad racing for them.
“The talent that they’ve brought in for my program is really exciting. I know or have worked with almost every person that’s on my team this year at some point in my career. That helps tremendously in building relationships and trust with each other.”
Todd Gilliland will be continuing a family tradition of sorts: the No. 38 has long been associated with his grandfather, Butch, as a racer, as well as for much of his father David’s Cup career. David Gilliland competed in 214 NASCAR Cup races as a driver for Front Row Motorsports from 2010-16.
“Car numbers are important to a driver because they are essentially your identity when you’re on track,” Todd Gilliland said. “It’s cool to think about a Gilliland being back in the No. 38, and I’m really proud to be able to drive the same number that my dad and grandpa did.”
Jon Leonard was also named as crew chief for Todd Gilliland’s Truck Series entry. Leonard previously served as a team engineer, as well as interim crew chief for Leavine Family Racing and in a prior engineering role with Richard Childress Racing.
NASCAR veteran Coleman Pressley will be Gilliland’s spotter.
“We’re all very excited for this expansion,” Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins said. “I’ve watched Todd grow up in this sport and have seen the talent he brings firsthand.
“Not only does he come from a racing family, but he’s got the natural ability of a winning driver. I’m confident that having him drive in our debut season will be a great success.”
CONCORD, N.C. — Hailie Deegan‘s future with Ford started in style.
The 18-year-old began the next chapter of her career Tuesday at the Ford Performance Technical Center by slowly piloting a blue Ford Shelby 350 through a set of dark curtains before taking questions from the media.
The theatrics on her behalf are one of the reasons why, after a few years with Toyota, she’ll be be spending “a lot of birthdays” as a Ford development driver.
But it mostly came down to there not being enough rides for her in Toyota’s stable to properly propel her up the ladder.
“At the end of the day, Toyota, they introduced me to the NASCAR world … they pushed me into it, they gave me a really good base and that’s something I’m super thankful for,” Deegan said. “But at the end of the day, there’s so many Toyota drivers and there’s not many seats. I think we made the best decision for my career long-term.”
Deegan joins a development program that boasts Chase Briscoe as its founding driver.
“There’s going to be more of a focus,” Deegan said. “That’s something I was super adamant about. I want to be focused on, I want to have the attention over here to be a better driver and get developed and that’s something that stood out to me and I think that’s going to help my career.”
A three-time winner on what’s now the ARCA Menards Series West, Deegan will compete full-time with DGR-Crosley in the ARCA Menards Series while also competing in select IMSA races, beginning with the Jan. 24 Michelin Pilot Challenge endurance race at Daytona International Speedway.
The looming ARCA season won’t be Deegan’s first interaction with DGR-Crosley. She competed in one ARCA Menards Series East race with the team this year at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“I got used to the team, I got to feel everyone out, see what I liked, didn’t like and there was a lot of things that I liked about them,” Deegan said. “I saw how hard their work ethic was. I really like how David, he was a racer. He understands it. He has a son (Todd Gilliland) that races, he knows the game of trying to build your kid into the ranks of NASCAR and running a team at the same time while still being a racer. That’s something I think is a really good combo that’s just going to help his team get better and better. Especially with how much Ford is supporting them, getting behind them.
“The resources they’re giving them is insane.”
Among those resources now at her disposal is Ford’s “marketing push.”
“That’s something I didn’t really have in the past with the team I was with and the manufacturer, that’s something (Ford wants) to push more,” Deegan said. “Push more stuff that’s away from racing, that’s ‘OK, let’s gets you in a Mustang, lets get you in a truck and let’s do some cool videos and stuff like that’ and that’s something I’m big into. I love social media. I love doing stuff like that and that’s definitely a push they want to connect us with.”
All this is work towards one goal: reaching the NASCAR Cup Series.
Both Deegan and Ford Performance Motorsports’ global director, Mark Rushbrook, preached the importance of Deegan moving up each step on the stock car racing ladder when she’s ready.
“We want to make sure, and Hailie wants to make sure, her team wants to make sure, she progresses to those levels when she’s ready to ensure success at each step,” Rushbrook said.
While Ford didn’t announce an expected plan for her progression, Deegan’s father, action sports star Brian Deegan, hopes the opportunity arises for her to “dabble” in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series at some point this year.
“I think she needs that,” Brian Deegan said. “She wants to race Eldora for sure, just because it’s a dirt race.”
He even mapped out the ideal structure for his daughter over the next few years.
“It would be ARCA (in 2020), 2021 trucks, 2022 trucks, 23′, 24′ (in) Xfinity is kind of what we’re hoping and laying out, is kind of our goal for her to have that path and then get to Cup,” Brian Deegan said. “By then I think she should have enough experience on everything to be ready, to be competitive.”
Hailie Deegan admitted it’s been difficult to see her fellow competitors from the ARCA East and West Series get a shot at the Truck Series before she does.
“It’s been really hard, just going to ISM (Raceway) at Phoenix (in November,)” she said. “It was so hard for me because my teammate (Derek Kraus at Bill McAnally Racing), he was racing in the truck race and I was sitting there on pit road and I was like, ‘Man, if he can do it, I want to do it.’ Seeing all my friends reach trucks, that’s something hard for me to kind of hold back on, ‘Ok let’s race ARCA, let’s gain experience, let’s get better before I go there.'”
Just over a year after winning the 2018 NHRA Pro Stock championship, Tanner Gray’s NASCAR path is picking up steam.
DGR-Crosley announced Monday that Gray will compete full-time in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series in the 2020 season.
Gray, who will turn 21 on April 15, will drive the DGR-Crosley No. 15 Ford F-150 and compete for Truck Series’ rookie of the year honors.
The Artesia, New Mexico native will also drive in several select ARCA Menards Series and ARCA Menards Series East (formerly K&N Pro Series East) races in 2020, the team announced.
Gray competed in several different racing series in the 2019 season, including late models, ARCA East (in 12 starts, won at South Boston, had six top-five and nine top-10 finishes, and finished third in the standings), ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (competed in three races, earning top-20 finishes in each).
“I’m really looking forward to next year,” Gray said in a media release. “Obviously running full-time in the Truck Series is going to be tough with how competitive the series is. It’s going to be challenging racing with these guys week in and week out, but I have a lot of great people around me.
“The experience in the DGR-Crosley guys will help me adapt and learn quickly. It’s also exciting that Ford is coming on board and giving us assets that will further advance our performance each week.”
Added team co-owner David Gilliland, “Tanner has done a great job in his transition to stock car racing. I was really impressed with how well he picked up the feel of the car and was able to provide very detailed feedback.”
Gilliland continued, “It’s a big step up to the Truck Series, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that he’s ready for it. I’m confident that the team we are assembling at DGR-Crosley is going to be one that is a factor every weekend and will compete for wins. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Gray’s first race is the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 14.
Ford Performance is strengthening its driver development program by joining forces with DGR-Crosley, which announced its move from Toyota to Ford Wednesday.
The multi-year agreement will see team co-owner David Gilliland, a former Cup Series driver, lead the team’s driver development program as it field entries in late models, the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
“We’re very excited to have DGR-Crosley come to Ford as part of our long-term efforts to develop drivers for NASCAR,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports in a press release. “We have just scratched the surface of what is possible in developing the next generation of Ford drivers with people like Chase Briscoe, and we believe a coordinated effort with a team like DGR-Crosley will help move that process forward successfully.
“David Gilliland was a trusted and valued Ford driver in NASCAR for many years, and we look forward to renewing that relationship with him in this new effort.”
Said Gilliland: “I’m super excited about the partnership with Ford and how things are lining up for 2020. I spent a lot of time racing Fords throughout my career, and it’s really special to now be able to bring them into our race shop. A lot of time and consideration was spent on this decision, and internally we know that this is the move that we needed to make in order to advance our program to the top level. We have a great group of hard-working, talented people at DGR-Crosley, and with Ford coming on board, our future is really bright. We’re excited for all the things ahead.”
DGR-Crosley will announce its driver lineup at a later date.
The team first entered the Truck Series in 2018. Tyler Ankrum won its first race this year at Kentucky Speedway, qualifying for the playoffs in the process.
It fielded a team record five entries in the playoff race at ISM Raceway.