MARTINSVILLE, Va.(October 19, 2008) – Martinsville is known as a tough 0.526-mile paperclip track and Ragan accidentally made things a little trickier for himself. Qualifying was once again rained out leaving Ragan to start the 500-lap event 13th, but an unfortunate incident in the first practice session would cost Ragan valuable track position. Ragan lost control of his AAA Ford and hit the wall entering turn one. The damage was too severe to repair, leaving Ragan’s AAA crew to pull out the back up car. The back-up car proved to be as strong as the primary. Ragan started the race last, broke into the top 10 just 70 laps into the race and held on at the end as a bump from behind sent him spinning. Ragan restarted 13th for the green-white-checkered finish and would ultimately end there as well; while Jimmie Johnson went on to win the race.
The theme of the year continued as qualifying was rained out for the ninth time of the season, setting a NASCAR record. The rainout would have had Ragan starting 13th, but Ragan lost control of his AAA Ford in first practice and made contact with the wall in turn one. The damage forced the team to pull out the back-up car and scramble to get it ready in time for final practice. They pulled through and did just that, Ragan was able to run final practice and get some track time on the back-up car.
From the back of the pack Ragan began his trek towards the front, all the while having to be careful not to go a lap down to the leaders on such a short track. Ragan had worked his way up to 36th when the first caution came out just 28 laps into the race. Ragan reported to his crew the AAA Ford was tight through the center and the tires were spinning from the center off. Crew chief Jimmy Fennig called Ragan down pit road under caution for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and a track bar adjustment.
The changes helped Ragan, but they hadn’t completely solved his handling woes. Ragan was up to 34th when the second caution came out. Fennig directed Ragan to remain on the track to gain track position and that’s exactly what he did. The move put Ragan inside the top 10 for the restart on lap 68.
Ragan remained in and around the top 15 for the majority of the race, avoiding multiple cautions and coming in for service five more times all the while tweaking the handling on his AAA Ford. The race restated for what looked to be the final time on lap 493 with Ragan running eight. A few laps later the No. 17 with fresh tires came up quick behind Ragan and got into the back of him. The contact spun Ragan, bringing out the caution flag and set the field up for a green-white-checkered finish. Ragan put on four fresh tires and restarted 13th, but wasn’t able to make up any ground in the closing laps and ultimately finished 13th
“We had a top-10 car,” said Ragan. “Jimmy Fennig and our AAA team had an excellent back-up car prepared and it was just one of those racing deals. Matt had new tires on. He was coming hard and I was just a little free off the corner and probably wasn’t quite in the throttle and got a little loose and he just helped me go around, so no harm, no foul. It was just one of those things. He was in the right place and I was in the wrong place. The last four weeks we’ve had top-five cars and got a couple of good finishes to show for it and this isn’t a bad run compared to where we started the day off, but we’re a better team and we deserve to be up in the top five. We’ve just got to keep getting better and we’ve got to start on Friday and carry it through the weekend.”
Pep Boys Auto 500
1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sunday, October 26, 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.