FORT WORTH, Texas - David Ragan had a very fast No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion in practice and in qualifying, but just couldn't get enough grip during the race to earn the finish he deserved. Ragan qualified seventh, made multiple air adjustments throughout the race and ultimately finished 13th while teammate Carl Edwards went on to win his third race of the season.
When it came time to qualify Ragan made his way around the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in just 28.642 seconds. His time equaled out to a speed of 188.534mph, making him the second-fastest Ford to teammate Carl Edwards and started him in the seventh position. From the drop of the green flag Ragan maintained his track position, settling into a rhythm and staying in the top 10 for the long green-flag runs that comprised most of the race.
The first caution came just 28 laps into the race when the No. 55 spun across the track. Ragan was scored in the ninth position and reported to crew chief Jimmy Fennig that the car was free in and needed to turn better. Ragan came down pit road for his first pit stop of the day for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Ragan returned to the track with the changes the team had made, but was still lacking grip. Next up for David and his team were green-flag pit stops.
Green-flag pit stops started around lap 78 and Ragan came down pit road for his stop on lap 83. Once again he took on four new tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment. Green-flag stops cycled through and Ragan was now running 13th and still in need of grip. The second caution came on lap 108 and once again Ragan pitted for four tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment. Ragan restarted the race on lap 113 in the 14th position and was hoping the changes had helped.
The air pressure changes alone were not increasing the tire grip that Ragan desperately needed. Ragan started to drop back in the field and even went a lap down. Over the course of the race Fennig called for additional air pressure adjustments, a track bar adjustment and the removal of the left-rear spring rubber. Another long green-flag run gave Ragan plenty of time to feel out the changes the team had made. They definitely helped, but he still needed more help on entry.
The team made its final pit stop under caution on lap 296 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. From there Ragan was on his own to finish out the race. Ragan restarted 18th and had moved up two positions to 16th when the final caution flew on lap 331. That caution set the field up for a green-white-checkered finish and some competitors pitted for fresh tires and others opted for track position. Ragan stayed out for track position. The call turned out to be the right one, Ragan held off the hard-charging cars behind him and earned a 13th-place finish in the Samsung 500.
"It was a long day," said Ragan. "Certainly, a top 15, it's an average run. I wish we could've been a little better at times. We just fought not a lot of forward grip, poor bite, spinning the tires - real slick all day - and just couldn't find any overall grip. At times we could find it and then it would get too tight late in the run. I'm proud of the way our team hung in there. At times, it looked like it was going to be a bad day but we salvaged something out of it."
Subway Fresh Fit 500
1.0-mile Phoenix International Raceway
Saturday, April 12, 2008