LONG POND, Penn. (June 8, 2008) – The 2.5-mile paved track that makes up Pocono Raceway proved to be a challenge for David Ragan and the No. 6 AAA team. Ragan struggled throughout practice, but in the final practice session got the car handling better and going into the race thought he had a top 15 Ford. Unfortunately during the race Ragan struggled with the handling and slight contact on pit road left him pitting twice to fix some fender damage. The handling issues, fender damage and long green flag runs cost Ragan valuable track position. The long green flag runs also left the field on different pit strategies and Ragan did the best he could with his No. 6 AAA Ford, but ultimately finished 24th while Kasey Kahne went on to win the Pocono 500.
Ragan struggled through practice on Friday and wasn’t sure what to expect when it came time to qualify. He made his way around the track in 53.986 seconds, which put him starting 30th while Kasey Kahne claimed the pole position. In the final practice on Saturday Ragan finally got the car handling where he needed it to be and was confident he would have a top 15 car for the 200-lap event.
Within the first 10 laps of the race Ragan told crew chief Jimmy Fennig that the car was “pretty good getting into the turns, but that the front end needed to turn better off the exit of the corners.” The first caution came out just 27 laps into the race and Ragan made his way on to pit road for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and a wedge adjustment. Ragan overshot his pit stall so he had to back up on pit road and pull back into his stall for adjustments. Ragan’s over-the-wall team made the adjustments quick, but missing the pit stall cost Ragan track position. Ragan came in 23rd and restarted 41st on lap 32.
The changes helped and Ragan gained some ground and was up to 36th just eight laps later when the second caution came out. In an attempt to gain track position Fennig called for two tires, air pressure adjustment, fuel and a wedge adjustment. The move gained Ragan six spots, setting him up 30th for the green flag restart on lap 44.
Under the third caution on lap 58 Ragan pitted for two tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment in another attempt to gain track position. The move would have worked, but Ragan got crowded leaving pit road and contact with another competitor bent in his left-front fender. Fennig couldn’t risk the fender rubbing under green flag racing, so he called Ragan back down pit road for left-side tires and to have the fender banged out. The damage and multiple pit stops set them back in 39th for the restart.
Next up was a brief rain delay and the field was parked on pit road. The weather cleared quickly and the field was back on the track. From here it was a battle with handling and track position for the entire race. Ragan pitted a total of five more times, each time he made adjustments to the handling, but just couldn’t make up the lost track position. Ragan crossed the finish line in the 24th position while Kasey Kahne won the Pocono 500. The finish maintained Ragan’s 13th-place position in the overall point standings.
“My crew did a great job today,” said Ragan. “They had awesome pit stops, but we just couldn’t get the car handling as well as I needed it to. I almost blew it there on the first stop missing my pit box, but at least I didn’t have to go all the way around and come back. We just struggled with track position and handling all day. I thought we had a top 15 car, but didn’t end up that well. At least we’ve learned a lot and hopefully can apply that when we come back here in a few weeks.”
2.0-mile Michigan International Speedway
Sunday, June 15, 2008
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.