DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (July 4, 2008) – David Ragan and the No. 6 Discount Tire team had a hard fought top-10 finish under the lights at Daytona International Speedway on Friday night. After qualifying 26th, Ragan made up a lot of ground from the outset of the race, cracking the top 10 by lap 47, and finishing the race as the fastest car on the track. On the green-white-checkered finish Ragan was in the 17th position, but when the checkered waved he had gained eight positions and finished in ninth-place.
The Winn-Dixie 250 turned out to be a wild shootout from the beginning of the race. The lead changed hands nine times the first 40 laps of the race. Ragan made his move early, darting passed nine cars the first lap of the race. By lap four, Ragan had already gained 12 positions and settled into 13th place. Ragan’s early success was short-lived by an ill-handling racecar. On lap 10 Ragan commented his Ford Fusion was tight center off. He also said the front end would not turn. The first caution of the night flew on lap 13. Crew chief Mike Kelley ordered Ragan to the pits for major adjustments on lap 15. Kelley ordered four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and a track bar adjustment. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 17 with Ragan in the 16th position.
Ragan’s handling problems continued the next 10 laps. He still ran in the 12th position, but clean passes were far and few between. Ragan got a much needed break when a debris caution flew on lap 30. Ragan was called to the pit stall on lap 32 for another round of adjustments. Kelley ordered four tires, fuel and another track bar adjustment. On lap 34 Ragan restarted the race in the 17th position.
Ragan managed to weave his way through traffic and use the draft wisely to gain 10 positions by lap 63. Ragan was getting closer to the lead pack of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards. On lap 54 Ragan was in the sixth position. On lap 60 Ragan commented his Ford Fusion was pretty good, but he still needed to turn a little better. A cycle of green-flag stops loomed large for the Discount Tire team. On lap 79 Kelley ordered Ragan to pits for four tires and fuel. As the field cycled through pit stops Ragan got back on the track in the 16th position with 20 laps to go.
On lap 84 Ragan commented he could not hold the throttle to the floor because the car would not turn. This became a serious problem when Ragan fell back to the 18th position with 10 laps to go in the race. On lap 98 the third caution of the night flew when Roush Fenway Racing teammate Colin Braun spun off of turn two. The caution was a blessing in disguise for the Discount Tire team. Kelley called Ragan to the pits one last time for four fresh tires. Ragan restarted in the 17th position in a green-white-checkered finish. Ragan was able to blow by multiple cars and get an incredible ninth-place finish.
Ragan claimed his fifth straight top-10 and 12th top-10 finish of the year.
“We were just a little bit off on chassis setup”, said Ragan. “It's a shame we didn't get any more laps that second practice on Thursday. We were probably a 10th-place car and we finished ninth. I think there were a few cars that were stronger than us, but we just made good decisions and were smart on the race track. I think the decision to take four tires at the end and picking the right lane to drive was the key. We easily could've been 15th or 18th. So, to finish ninth says a lot about how good this team is. On a not-so-perfect day we can still get a decent finish."
The ninth-place finish leaves Ragan Fifth in the Nationwide Series point standings. Ragan and the team will return to action next Friday, July 11th at Chicagoland Speedway.
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.