DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 9, 2008) – David Ragan and the No. 6 Discount Tire team had a disappointing end to a great run in the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington Raceway on Friday night. The NASCAR Nationwide Series race was marred by eight cautions and multiple wrecks. Ragan started the race in the ninth position but ran in the top five for much of the race. After a late race pit stop Ragan was shuffled back in the running order when he tangled with Steven Wallace on lap 138 and hit the turn two wall extremely hard. The accident put an end to a promising evening.
It was a warm night at the track known as the “Lady in Black” and Ragan was looking to tame it. After qualifying in the ninth position Ragan wanted to stay patient the first 50 laps of the race. Ragan’s Discount Tire Ford Fusion had been among the quickest of the field all weekend in practice. Crew chief Mike Kelley reminded Ragan of the new surface and to be smart and cautious of other drivers trying to be too aggressive early in the race. The first caution of the night flew just two laps into the race when Ragan’s Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards cut a tire and slammed into the turn three wall. The caution waved yet again on lap eight for a wreck in turn two. The drivers seemed willing to test the track “too tough to tame” early and often with little success.
Ragan and the Discount Tire team executed their plan to perfection the first 70 laps of the race. On lap 53 Ragan was already in the top five and gaining on the race leaders. Ragan had minimal handling problems and his Ford Fusion had great balance. By lap 58 Ragan was in the third position behind Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart. On lap 59 Ragan was the race leader. A green-flag pit stop loomed large. The top five started to make their first pit stops of the evening on lap 59. Ragan was called to the pits on lap 62 for minor adjustments. Kelley ordered four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The Discount Tire pit crew ripped off a 13.7 second stop which helped Ragan stay in the top 10 upon exiting the pit stall. Ragan had brief handling problems the next few laps, but as the tires got warmed up the car came to him.
Everything was falling in place for Ragan and the Discount Tire team. His Ford Fusion was a rocket and the pit crew was sharp. The third caution of the night flew on lap 73, halting the team’s momentum. The Discount Tire team opted not to pit when many other teams made their second stop of the night. When green-flag racing resumed on lap 79 Ragan was in the fourth position. The race was green for six laps before the caution flew again for a two-car wreck. Kelley called Ragan to the pits for the second time of the evening on lap 87. Kelley ordered four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment. The Discount Tire pit crew had another amazing stop. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 93 with Ragan in the ninth position. The race was halted four more times the next 30 laps, killing any chances of Ragan making a move toward the front of the pack. This was clearly frustrating the Discount Tire team.
Ragan’s Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth brought out the sixth caution of the evening on lap 128 for a violent wreck in turn four. The race had to be red-flagged, but one last pit stop was the key to the Discount Tire team's strategy. For the strategy to work the race leaders had to stay out. When the race went back to a yellow-flag the top five all stayed on the track. Ragan was called to the pits for two tires and fuel. The quick stop got Ragan back on the track in the ninth position.
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 133. On lap 138 Ragan got tangled up with Steven Wallace and spun into the wall in turn two. The accident left Ragan’s Ford Fusion badly damaged and put an end to a great run.
“I had a run on the 66 and got underneath and got him loose and spun it out. Certainly if he wouldn’t have been there I could have used a little bit more track and it would have been fine, but I was just trying to get a little too much there. The car felt really good. We got a little tight the last part in traffic and I just didn’t have the track position to win. I felt like if we could have been in the top two or three we had a winning car, but I should have just rode it out and got us a good finish, but I just wanted to get more and got a little too much.”
The 27th -place finish leaves Ragan sixth in the Nationwide Series point standings. Ragan and the team will return to action Saturday, May 24th at Lowe’s Motor 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.