MEXICO CITY, Mexico (April 20, 2008) – David Ragan and the No. 6 Discount Tire Ford Fusion team caught a case of bad luck in the Nationwide Series Corona Mexico 200 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Sunday afternoon in Mexico City. After qualifying in the 22nd position on Saturday, Ragan and the Discount Tire crew put together an unbelievable pit strategy that got them as high as the second position by lap 58. Ragan was then spun out by the No. 22 a few laps later, setting him back to the middle of the pack. Ragan managed to rebound and secure a respectable 22nd-place finish.
It was not your typical NASCAR race. The strategies used for a road course differ from that of a traditional oval shaped track. Early in the race most of the field began making pit stops, guarding against wear and tear on their equipment. Sunday afternoon was no different for Ragan and the No. 6 Discount Tire team. Crew chief Mike Kelley told Ragan to get through each turn smoothly and be patient with the rest of the field.
Ragan said his Ford Fusion was a little free from the start. The action was halted early with a caution on lap two for a wreck in turn seven. The race was then red-flagged due to excessive oil on the race track. After a delay the race went back to green on lap eight. On lap 12 Ragan commented his Ford Fusion needed to turn a little better. A green-flag pit stop loomed large. On lap 15 Ragan was ordered to the pit stall. Kelley ordered four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. The Discount Tire pit crew managed to get Ragan back on the track quick enough to remain in the middle of the pack for the long green-flag run.
For the next 20 laps Ragan battled through two cautions and bump to bumper traffic to gain some ground on the leaders. After a debris caution on lap 34 slowed the action, Ragan used it to his advantage. On the restart on lap 39 a five-car wreck put a halt to the action yet again. But before the caution waved, Ragan instinctively maneuvered through the wreckage at race speed, picking up eight spots while others slowed anticipating the yellow-flag. Ragan was called to the pits for fuel only. The race was then red-flagged again for fluid on the track.
On the restart on lap 42 Ragan was in the 16th position. The green-flag run lasted only six laps when the race was halted again for debris. Kelley told Ragan to stay out on the race track to improve their track position. The strategy proved to be brilliant. Ragan found himself in the fourth position on the restart on lap 51. The next eight laps were marred with two more cautions for spins and wrecks, but Ragan stayed patient and began to drive away from the rest of the field.
On lap 57 Ragan ran in the second position behind race leader Scott Pruett. The Discount Tire Ford Fusion was among the fastest in the field, but on lap 58 disaster struck. As Ragan gained on the race leader, the No.22 driven by Rueben Pardo got into the back of Ragan, spinning him and dashing any hopes of a win.
Ragan continued to fight the next 30 laps, driving hard to maintain track position and salvage a respectable finish. At the end of the day Ragan ran out of laps to make up for the bad luck. Ragan brought his Discount Tire Ford Fusion home in the 22nd position.
“It’s all about track position at this road courses. When we were back there in the back, we struggled to pass. We had a good enough car that we could have run in the top 10; it’s just all about track position. We’ve made the right call and stayed out and caught a couple of good cautions. Up there in the top five, I thought we were set, and then the No. 22 spun us out there. It was kind of a rough day. There was a lot of beating and banging. It could have been a lot better but we’ll just have to learn from it.”
The 22nd-place finish leaves Ragan fifth in the Nationwide Series point standings. Ragan and the team will return to action next Saturday, April 26th at Talladega Superspeedway.
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.