RICHMOND, Va. (May 2, 2008) – David Ragan and the No. 6 Discount Tire Ford Fusion team continued a successful run in the Nationwide Series, capturing a spectacular fourth-place finish in the Lipton Tea 250 at Richmond International Raceway on Friday night. The race featured eight cautions and a green-white-checkered finish that left most fans on their feet until the very last lap. Ragan qualified in the ninth position but ran in the top five for the majority of the evening. Ragan found himself in a dog fight with NASCAR’s best drivers until the checkered waved. Ragan secured his second top-five finish of the season and climbed to fourth in the Nationwide Series championship standings.
It was a beautiful night at Richmond International Raceway and the track conditions seemed ideal for a clean race. Ragan started the race in the ninth position but quickly gained two positions and settled into the seventh position. The Discount Tire Ford Fusion was among the fastest of the field from the outset of the race. On lap 38 crew chief Mike Kelley told Ragan he was the fastest car on the track. By lap 62 Ragan was picking cars off one by one. He battled his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth for the fifth position for many laps. The first caution of the night flew on lap 65. Ragan was called to the pits on lap 67 for minor adjustments. Kelley ordered four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Upon exiting the pit stall Ragan was in the fifth position. The race was restarted on lap 74.
Ragan and Roush Fenway Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth secured three of the top six spots for the next 30 laps. It was becoming a dominant performance by the trio until the third caution of the night slowed the action on lap 141 when the No. 99 driven by David Reutimann spun in turn 2.
Ragan told Kelley his Ford Fusion was a little tight through the center and needed more rear grip. Ragan was called to the pits on lap 143. Kelley ordered four tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment. The Discount Tire pit crew ripped off a 13.8 second stop that got Ragan back on the track in the fourth position. Green-flag racing resumed on lap 147.
Ragan and the No. 6 Discount Tire team ran in the top five for the next 80 laps. It appeared the Discount Tire Ford Fusion was among the elite in the field for the latter part of the race. On lap 193 Ragan was in the fourth position and the fastest car on the track. Kelley told Ragan to get up on the wheel and catch the race leaders. Ragan put up a valiant effort until an untimely caution flew on lap 237. The top three stayed out on the track, but Kelley called Ragan to the pits for fresh tires. Ragan entered the pit stall in the fifth position and exited in the seventh position.
Green-flag racing resumed on lap 238. Denny Hamlin passed Kevin Harvick on lap 242 for the lead. Hamlin was the only other driver in the top five who had fresh tires. By lap 245 Ragan was in the fourth position and closing in on the race leaders very fast, but the caution flew again on lap 247 for a spin by Bryan Clauson, that setup a two-lap dash that took the race three laps beyond its posted distance of 250 laps. The untimely caution was the worst thing that could happen for the Discount Tire team. Ragan ran out of laps and time to catch Hamlin, but was able to secure a fourth-place finish.
“We had an awesome race car tonight. I really thought this would be our race to win,” said Ragan. “We were right where we wanted to be at the end. The last caution kind of hurt us because we ran out of laps, but I believe we are so close to that first win. We should run like this every week and be in contention for wins. I am always happy with a top-five run. Our Discount Tire team will continue to work hard and strive for wins and ultimately a championship”.
The fourth-place finish leaves Ragan fourth in the Nationwide Series point standings. Ragan and the team will return to action next Friday, May 9th at Darlington Raceway.
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.