BRISTOL, Tenn. (August 23, 2008) – David Ragan did not take the easy way to a top-10 finish Saturday night under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ragan had a top 10 car in Friday’s first practice session and was on his way to a great qualifying lap when he lost control of the AAA Ford. The damage forced the team to pull out the backup car for final practice and dropped them to the back of the field for the start of the 500-lap event. Track position at Bristol is key, leaving Ragan with his work cut out for him to get through the field. On the first pit stop he received fender damage pulling out of his box and had to come back in to have the sheet metal pulled back out. The AAA Ford was fast and Ragan used the long race to work his way to a tenth-place finish.
Ragan headed to Bristol with high hopes and excitement for a Saturday night short track race under the lights. His AAA Ford was fast in first practice, confirming to Ragan and his crew that they brought a fast Ford to Bristol. Unfortunately when it came time to qualify, the AAA Ford got loose and Ragan made contact with the wall. The damage was too severe to repair leaving his team to pull out the backup car. All hands were on deck to get the backup car ready for final practice. They accomplished that goal with the help of some other Roush Fenway teammates and had Ragan on the track for the full hour of final practice. They got the backup car dialed in and were ready for Saturday night’s race.
Due to the qualifying mishap bringing out the backup car Ragan had to drop to the tail end of the field and start 43rd. Track position is very important at Bristol and Ragan had his work cut out for him. Luckily his team gave him a fast AAA Ford and a long green-flag run to start the race allowed Ragan to work his way through the field one-by-one. The first caution of the night didn’t come out until lap 96 and Ragan had worked his way up to 23rd.
Under caution Ragan reported to crew chief Jimmy Fennig that he was a little tight in the center of the turns, but had really good forward bite. Not wanting to loose his forward bite, Fennig called Ragan down pit road for four tires, fuel and no adjustments. Ragan made contact with the No. 8 as he pulled out of his box which pushed in his left-front fender. Ragan was near teammate Matt Kenseth on the track, so Kenseth took a look and came over the radio to tell Fennig that under green the fender would rub the tire. Fennig had no choice but to pit and fix the fender. The extra pit stop put Ragan starting 28th and he would now have to deal with lapped traffic while trying to make up his lost track position.
The field had almost another 100 laps of green flag racing before the second caution on lap 195. Ragan was up to 18th and now his Ford was a little snug. Ragan pitted for four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment. Ragan restarted 17th and just a few laps later the field was red flagged for an incident involving seven other competitors. The incident happened ahead of Ragan on the track, bumping him up to 11th for the field to take the green on lap 222.
Ragan broke into the top 10 for the first time on lap 227 and continued to hover there throughout the rest of the race. Four additional pit stops in the second half of the race for new tires and only minor air pressure adjustments helped Ragan turn better through the center of the turns. Ragan’s Roush Fenway teammate Carl Edwards took the checkered flag for his sixth victory of the season while Ragan crossed the finish line 10th. The finish moved Ragan up to 13th in the point standings, just 12 points out of making the top 12. Ragan continues to hover on the edge of making the Chase and still has two strong tracks left to make up the distance to 12th.
“At the beginning of the night we started in the back and if I knew we were going to finish in the top 10,” said Ragan. “I would have been content but about halfway through I felt like our car was good enough to contend for a top-five finish. We were just battling lapped cars all night for track position and trying to get our AAA Ford handling just a little bit better, but, overall, that’s what we needed to do. We needed to come out of here and we didn’t pick up any points, but we didn’t lose any, so we’ll go to California and see what happens. This weekend we kind of stepped on our toes on Friday and we kind of rebounded tonight. We’ve just got to watch our mistakes and can’t cost us too many spots early in the weekend. It makes for a long 500 laps on Saturday. It’s a relief to get a top-10 finish and finish on the lead lap here at Bristol after going to the back twice – after having some left-front fender damage and having to go back on a pit stop and make some adjustments. I wish we would have had a little bit of track position there toward the middle part. I felt like we had a good car to contend for a top-10 finish, but we just did the best we could and everything will take care of itself.”
2.0-mile Auto Club Speedway
Sunday, August 31, 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.