David Gilliland Racing ARCA Menards Series East Recap: New Smyrna Speedway

David Gilliland Racing
Taylor Gray, No. 17 Ford Performance FusionStart: 1stFinish: 3rdGray earned his second career ARCA Menards General Tire Pole Award and paced the field to the initial green flag. He led the opening 10 laps before being overtaken on lap 11.A long green flag run allowed the No. 17 Ford Performance Fusion to find its groove and reassume the lead on lap 65. Caution flag waved on lap 90 and the team would pit for four tires and fuel. A discrepancy on pit road relegated the No. 17 to restarting fourth. Gray quickly moved into third and held steady there until a caution on lap 164. Rain began to fall during this caution period and resulted in the race being under red flag conditions for well over an hour.ARCA officials corrected the error from the prior pit sequence when cars returned to the track for the closing laps, which placed Gray in 2nd place for the restart. A quick yellow on the opening lap would set up a green-white-checkered finish. Gray took the lead coming to the white flag, but was bumped out of the groove in turns 3 & 4 and narrowly finished third in a three-wide photo finish.Gray on New Smyrna: “It was just a short track last lap deal. The 18 tried to move me and didn’t do it right. It’s unfortunate to lead that many laps and not come away with a win, but on the positive side we had a really fast Ford Performance Fusion all day long. We will take the podium finish and move on to Pensacola to hopefully redeem ourselves and get a win.”
 
Joey Iest, No. 54 ASN/Basila Ranch Ford FusionStart: 3rdFinish: 5thIest qualified 3rd, but the inside row checked up hard on the initial start and caused him to fall to 11th on the opening lap.The California native stayed composed and worked his way back through the field to second-place on lap 82. He was on the bumper of the leader when the caution flag waved on lap 90 for pit stops.The pitting discrepancy forced the No. 54 to restart the race in 5th. Iest quickly moved to fourth and was running there when the caution waved on lap 164. After the lengthy rain delay and lineup reshuffling due to the pitting error, Iest would restart third and come away with a fifth-place finish in his ARCA Menards Series East debut.Iest on New Smyrna: “It felt great to come to a new track with a new team and have speed right out of the box. After that initial start where the inside lane bottled up, I think we showed that we had one of the fastest long run cars here. I wish we could have gotten a long run to the finish, but a top-five to start our ARCA Menards Series East campaign with DGR is awesome. I can’t wait to get to Pensacola in a few weeks and build on this performance.”
 
Next event: Pensacola 200 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida on February 27 at 6 p.m. ET.

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