WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 9, 2008) – David Ragan and the No. 6 Discount Tire Ford Fusion team shined when it mattered most at Watkins Glen International on Saturday afternoon. The Discount Tire team struggled mightily in practice on Friday and in qualifying, starting the race in the 35th position. The team led by crew chief Mike Kelley rallied during the race to outsmart the competition, using a brilliant pit strategy to secure the team’s 15th top-10 finish of the year.
Ragan and the Discount Tire team started in the 35th position, but when the checkered flag fell he blew through the back of the pack in just one lap to secure the 26th position. By lap 11 Ragan ran in the 24th position despite an ill-handling racecar. Ragan commented his Ford Fusion was tight during right turns. A much needed caution flew the very same lap for a wreck in turn seven. Kelley called Ragan to the pit stall on lap 13 for minor adjustments. Kelley ordered four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment in the right front. The Discount Tire pit crew got Ragan back on the track in 16 seconds. When green-flag racing resumed on lap 15 Ragan was in the 23rd position.
For the next 25 laps Ragan battled through the stellar field, picking his spots to be aggressive very carefully. It appeared Ragan wanted to take care of his equipment and run a smart race. Ragan settled into the 19th position by lap 37 despite two cautions that slowed his momentum. On lap 41 the race was halted for a major wreck on the front-stretch. It was the fourth caution of the day. Ragan was called to the pit stall on lap 42 for adjustments. Kelley ordered four tires and fuel. Ragan was shown in the 21st position when green-flag racing resumed on lap 44.
Things started to get interesting on lap 49 when the race was slowed for a debris caution. Many teams made pit stops for fuel only on lap 51. Clearly, track position was key for the Discount Tire team, so Kelley told Ragan to stay out during this period. Ragan restarted the race in the sixth position on lap 53. Ragan ran in the top 10 for the next 20 laps, and commented on lap 74 he was pushing his Ford Fusion to the limit.
The race took an interesting turn on lap 79 when the race leaders began to run out of fuel. Kelley had gambled that Ragan could make it on fuel mileage due to the amount of cautions since the last pit stop on lap 42. It was a gutsy call that proved to be correct at the end of the day. Ragan cruised across the finish line three laps later with a remarkable ninth-place finish.
“It was a good day for our Discount Tire team”, said Ragan. “Our Ford Fusion wasn’t that great in practice and didn’t qualify well at all. It just shows you that you can never give up in this sport. It was kind of a long race today, and the Discount Tire team did a great job on pit road and we had track position. All I had to do was drive a mistake-free race, and I probably made a few mistakes out there somewhere, they just weren’t big enough to cost us. I was absolutely driving it as hard as I could, and just real fortunate that we avoided the big wreck on the front straightaway. We were able to dodge the bullets and come away with a nice run.”
The ninth-place finish leaves Ragan fifth in the Nationwide Series point standings. Ragan and the team will return to action next Saturday, August 16 at Michigan 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.