TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 26, 2008) – Superspeedway racing always comes down to drafting and shuffling for position, having a fast car is key, but having drafting partners partnered with a fast car results in a solid finish. Ragan had a very fast No. 6 Discount Tire Ford Fusion, but some body damage during the race left him pitting multiple times for his team to work on the fenders. Ragan managed to avoid major damage during the multiple race cautions, but two flat left-rear tires back-to-back at the end of the event left him limping around the apron to an 18th-place finish.
Ragan was a little disappointed in his 21st-place qualifying effort, but knew that he had a fast car and would be able to make up the lost track position early on in the race. He did just that, working his way up to 12th just four laps into the race, but quickly was hung out of the draft and back to his starting position of 21st ten laps into the race. Unfortunately, the first caution came out one lap later; although Ragan wasn’t directly involved in the incident another competitor came down on him and bent in his right-side fenders.
Crew chief Mike Kelley called Ragan down pit road under caution so the team could put four new tires on the Ford and so they could assess the damage. It turned out that the right-front fender was knocked in enough to rub the tire so Kelley pulled the fender out enough to send Ragan back out so they didn’t lose a lap, but called him right back in under the caution. The team pitted a total of three times under the caution and barely made it off pit road in time for the green flag on lap 15.
Ragan was now half a lap behind the field by himself without any drafting help. At this point it wouldn’t take long for the pack to come back around and lap him. Luckily the caution came out on lap 19 before the pack could put him a lap down. Ragan pitted under the caution for right-side tires, but the tire the team pulled off the right-front had a mark from the fender rubbing it. At superspeedway race speeds Kelley was taking no chances with David’s safety and called him back down pit road to once again fix the fender.
With the fender repaired Ragan took the green flag on lap 24 in the 32nd position and was finally in for a normal race, or at least it seemed. Ragan assumed his trek towards the front and was all the way up in the third position by lap 58. On lap 62 Ragan was tapped from behind by another competitor and sent spinning across the track in front of oncoming traffic. Luckily no one hit him, but now he had sheet metal damage and flat-spotted tires. The spin brought out the caution and allowed the team two opportunities to pit to fix the damage. They did just that and kept him on the lead lap, just to have a red flag come out a few laps later for an incident involving the majority of the field.
The field was frozen for about 25 minutes while NASCAR cleaned up the wreckage and once they were rolling again Ragan was back down pit road two more times so the team could continue to fix the damage. Despite all the pit stops Ragan remained on the lead lap and one of the fastest cars on the track. While running in the top 10 on lap 104 Ragan came over the radio and told his team he had a flat tire. Ragan had no choice but to come down pit road under green flag conditions to fix the tire. His team fixed the left-rear, but something must have still been rubbing because a few laps later he had another left-rear go down. This time his sheet metal was torn up and the housing for the battery had been damaged. If he had attempted to return to the track and get up to speed the battery may have fallen out. Ragan played it smart and rode the apron to collect as many points and positions as he could and ultimately finished 18th.
“It was just a long day,” said Ragan. “That very first wreck that happened, we had some damage and had to come down pit road and we lost track position, but this Discount Tire Ford was really fast. It picked back up pretty quick, and we were able to get back to the front. Then it just all went downhill from there. We kept cutting tires and just stayed down pit road the rest of the day, and we were still going to be in good shape for a top-10 run, and then we cut those two tires at the end. It was just a long day. These cars are really slow and so easy to drive, nobody has any give and take out there. We all just race – not only the other guys, but myself too. Just run too hard, too early in the race, tear up a bunch of stuff.”
Lipton TEA 250
2.66-miles Richmond International Raceway
Friday, May 2, 2008
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing operates 13 full-time motorsports teams, five in NASCAR Sprint Cup with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; four in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun; three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Kvapil, Bobby East and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.