CONCORD, N.C. (May 25, 2008) – The stage was set for a great run in the NASCAR Nationwide Series CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 on Saturday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. David Ragan and the No. 6 Discount Tire team looked to rebound from an average run in recent weeks. Ragan started from the second position and challenged for the lead right away. Ragan led 29 laps and brought his Ford Fusion home without a scratch with a ninth-place finish.
Ragan and the Discount Tire team got out of the gates fast at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Ragan made his move on pole-sitter Brian Vickers right away and took the lead from the outset. Ragan ran both the outside and inside line early and found himself in clean air the first 10 laps of the race. It was clear the Discount Tire Ford Fusion was among the elite in the field. Ragan commented his Ford Fusion had good balance and handled very well. On lap 25 the caution flew for a wreck on the back-stretch. Crew chief Mike Kelley ordered Ragan to the pits for minor adjustments. Kelley called for four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment. Upon exiting the pit stall Ragan was in the sixth position. A lot of other competitors opted to take just two tires and fuel. Kelley’s pit strategy worked out brilliantly. The race was restarted on lap 30 and Ragan gained three positions in six laps. Over the next 30 laps Ragan ran in the top five, pushing his Ford Fusion to the limit. On lap 60 Ragan commented the front end was bouncing on entry into the corners.
The third caution of the night flew on lap 60 for debris. Ragan was called to the pit stall for major adjustments. Kelley called for fuel and a wedge adjustment. The Discount Tire pit crew got Ragan back on the track in the first position. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 65. Ragan stayed up front for the next 20 laps, but the caution flew for the sixth time on lap 80, slowing his momentum. Kelley told Ragan to stay out to take advantage of valuable track position.
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 85 with Ragan in the second position behind Kyle Busch. Ragan commented his Ford Fusion was bouncing through the track. Ragan also said there was a build up of air pressure in the tires that made the car tight through the corners. Ragan dropped eight spots over the next 60 laps, but rebounded to settle in the seventh spot by lap 165. The caution flew three more times the next 30 laps, leaving very little green-flag laps for Ragan to make a move back to the front. Ragan got caught in race traffic the last six laps but was able to secure a ninth-place finish. It was Ragan’s seventh top-10 finish of the season.
“We needed to be good during the night and average during the day, but we lost a little bit of track position. We had a little bit different strategy, not entirely different, but the Nationwide cars just get tight when you get back in traffic. We were pretty good out front, a little to the free side, and then toward the end of the race it just got tighter and tighter. We just needed to be better in certain areas. I think we had a car that could have won if it would have been in the right situation, but we’ll have to learn from it. But it was good to have a fast car with a lot of speed. The Discount Tire pit crew did a good job, it just wasn’t our night.”
The ninth-place finish leaves Ragan sixth in the Nationwide Series point standings. Ragan and the team will return to action Saturday, May 31st at Dover International 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.