June 16, 2008 8:38 AM

Pit Strategy Helps Ragan Finish Eighth in Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 15, 2008) – Michigan is home to Roush Industries and Ford and Michigan International Speedway is known for Ford dominance.  Unfortunately this time around a Ford didn’t win the race, but there were three Fords inside the top 10, one of which was David Ragan.  After being fast in practice Ragan and the team were disappointed that qualifying was rained out on Friday.  The rainout would relegate the field to starting in their current points position and Ragan would start 13th despite knowing the No. 6 car was capable of contending for the pole.  Ragan settled in for the 200-lap event, but struggled with rear grip throughout much of the race.  The right calls in the pits and pit strategy regained the track position that Ragan needed to earn an eighth-place finish.

The rain plagued season struck again when it came time to qualify for the LifeLock 400.  The No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion was fast in practice and Ragan and his team knew it was capable of qualifying better than where he would start if the field was set off points.  A few cars were able to make qualifying laps, but ultimately rain washed away all hopes of making a qualifying run and left NASCAR to set the field based on points.  Luckily some solid runs this season have Ragan sitting 13th in the point standings.

Ragan’s AAA Ford that handled so well in practice, didn’t fair as well under long green flag runs.  Just ten laps into the 200-lap event Ragan reported to the team he needed more rear grip.  Ragan’s first opportunity for some changes came under green flag racing conditions on lap 38.  Ragan pitted for four tires, fuel, wedge and an air pressure adjustment. 

The lack of rear grip continued, leaving Ragan making laps until he could come back down pit road for service.  Green flag racing continued so Ragan came in for another routine stop on lap 78 for four tires, fuel, track bar adjustment and an air pressure adjustment.  The changes seemed to do the trick and when the caution was displayed on lap 92 Ragan reported to crew chief Jimmy Fennig that the balance was the best it’s been and that he didn’t want any changes made to his Ford.  Ragan pitted for four tires and fuel and was on his way. 

The field returned to green flag racing on lap 96 with Ragan running 17th.  Shortly after the third caution came out on lap 102 and quick thinking on pit strategy by Fennig would gain them valuable track position.  With so few green flag laps on his tires, Fennig called Ragan down pit road for fuel only and sent him back out eighth while others took two or four tires. 

Ragan held onto this track position and even cycled through to lead a lap before his next green flag stop opportunity came on lap 142.  The car was handling really well, but Ragan needed to be a little tighter.  Under caution on lap 148 Ragan pitted for two tires, fuel, a track bar adjustment and an air pressure adjustment.  Ragan restarted 12th on lap 152 and with less than 50 laps remaining made his way to the front. 

The car was the best it had been all day and it seemed as if the race was coming down to fuel mileage.  In the closing green flag laps most competitors had to pit for fuel and took on fresh tires while on pit road.  Ragan held out as long and he could and led a few laps, before coming down pit road for a gas-and-go pit stop.  Unfortunately the caution came out on lap 198 which allowed the people who were tight on fuel to conserve and avoid coming down pit road.  The strategy paid off resulting in a win for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. while David Ragan finished eighth.  The finish was Ragan’s fourth top 10 of the season and helped him remain 13th in the point standings.

“It was a solid run,” said Ragan.  “We just kind of hung out all day.  I didn’t want to see that last caution come out, because I think we were going to finish – well, I don’t know, some guys were playing the fuel-mileage game. I think we had a top 10 car. Track position also meant a lot, playing the fuel-mileage game, the two-tire, four-tire, but we made good decisions on pit road and had good pit stops. I was back in the 20s at times and to get a top-10, which was a good run.”. Our AAA Ford Fusion was pretty fast today. Jimmy made the right calls in the pits, and it just worked out the way it did. I think if we would’ve finished that green-white-checkered finish, who knows who would’ve run out, would’ve never had that last caution. But, a solid top 10 run. We’ll learn and we’ll come back for a second Michigan race and try to win it.”

Toyota/Save Mart 350
1.99-mile Infineon Raceway
Sonoma, Calif.
Sunday, June 22, 2008

About Roush Fenway Racing

Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams.  Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 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; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

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