Front Row Motorsports race report

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Event: Phoenix

David Gilliland, No. 34 Taco Bell/TMone Ford

David Gilliland and the No. 34 Taco Bell/TMone Ford team were eager to get back on the track after kicking off the season with a third-place finish in the Daytona 500. Starting the Subway Fresh Fit 500 in second place in championship points, Gilliland looked to make another strong run with new sponsor TMone on board.

Rolling off 30th, Gilliland reported his car was a bit "tight" in the opening laps and fell back several positions. Crew chief Peter Sospenzo and the Taco Bell/TMone team worked to loosen up the machine, enabling Gilliland to turn faster laps and move up the board. The car was getting better and Gilliland had regained several positions when a 13-car crash on Lap 68 did some damage to his Ford Fusion as he dodged his way through the spinning and wrecking field.

After a 14-minute red-flag period, the pit crew went to work on the No. 34 car, patching it up and getting it back on track, ready to race. Gilliland restarted in the 22nd position and battled for position the rest of the race, moving in and out of the top 20. The damage from the wreck took away some of the car's competitiveness, but Gilliland hung steady and finished in 22nd. He is now 10th in championship points.

The team welcomed TMone as an associate sponsor on the car this week. The Iowa-based company is a leading front-office business process outsourcing (BPO) firm specializing in customer relationship management (CRM) and customer service selling (CSS) for many Fortune 500 companies. TMone has been on Inc. magazine's list of fastest-growing companies in the U.S. the last four years and is creating jobs in the heartland.

Comments from Taco Bell/TMone Ford team driver David Gilliland after the Phoenix race:

"Our team has definitely taken strides but I'm a little disappointed. We had a better car than 22nd today. We got involved in one of those accidents and kind of messed up the left-front fender and front end. Overall, we've made huge gains for Front Row Motorsports at these type of tracks. Last year we were terrible at these type of tracks and from the time we unloaded this weekend we were competitive, so I'm real proud of that. We're gonna take what we learned here, hopefully not get tore up in the next one, and bring it home a little better, but it was a good points day overall for what we're trying to do here. And we had a new sponsor, TMone, on board for it, so we're definitely happy about that. We look forward forward to getting some better runs for them.

"The FR 9 engine is awesome. I just told Peter (Sospenzo) today, we got in that accident, but last year we left here thinking we could use a little more motor to run with these guys and we needed to upgrade that with Roush-Yates, and we did that this year. That is no longer an issue and that really feels good coming to the race track knowing that you have the power to run up front."

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Travis Kvapil, No. 38 Long John Silver's Ford

Travis Kvapil looked forward to getting into a groove in Phoenix after kicking off the 2011 season with a disappointing Daytona 500. But a multi-car wreck that was more fitting for Talladega than Phoenix took out 13 cars on Lap 68 -- one of them Kvapil's Long John Silver's Ford.

The No. 38 team started in the 40th position and Kvapil reported an extremely tight-handling car in the early laps. Crew chief Bill Henderson made some changes in the first two pit stops that helped Kvapil improve his lap times. Driving a better-handling car and using smart pit strategy, the team advanced up to eighth. But a short time later, a chain-reaction crash kicked off on the backstretch and Kvapil got slammed into the wall. He was checked out in the infield care center and quickly released, but the Long John Silver's Ford was totaled. The team was credited with a 39th-place finish.

Comments from Long John Silver's Ford team driver Travis Kvapil after the Phoenix race:

"We were a couple rows back from it and I saw somebody get sideways way up by the wall. Everybody checked up and I thought I had it cleared and somebody came from the infield and just KO'd me in the left rear and went around for the ride and hit the wall pretty hard on the inside. It's unfortunate. We had a pretty fast Long John Silver's Ford. We were up in the mix and trying to make some gains on it. We still had some work to do to get the car handling better, but it was a positive day for us even though we're sitting here in the garage wrecked."

-source: front row motorsports

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags ford, nascar