FORT WORTH, Texas(November 2, 2008) – David Ragan had a top 10 AAA Ford at Texas, but the race came down to fuel mileage and Ragan came up just a little short. Ragan qualified his AAA Ford 18th and had a top 10 car in both practice sessions on Saturday. When it came time to race Ragan struggled with grip, but got the correct adjustments from his AAA team throughout the race and was in the running for a top-10 finish at the end of the 334 laps. Ragan took a splash of gas and made a two-tire final stop in the closing laps, but others gambled by staying out for track position. The gambled paid off for the few willing to take the risk while Ragan took the safe road to an 11th-place finish. Ragan’s teammate Carl Edwards went on to win the Dickies 500, his eighth victory of the season.
For the first time in three weeks Mother Nature allowed the Sprint Cup Series to get qualifying in. Unfortunately for Ragan he didn’t get the lap he would have liked and wound up starting 18th instead of 13th if rain had once again washed out track activity. Things changed in the two practice sessions on Saturday as the AAA Ford proved to be fast in race trim. Ragan posted times in the top 10 in both practice sessions and was looking forward to getting a solid finish out of his Ford.
From the start of the race Ragan began to drop back slightly in the field from his 18th-place starting position. After feeling out his AAA Ford for about 30 laps Ragan reported to crew chief Jimmy Fennig that the car had no front grip and he was tight from the center off. A long green flag run led to the entire field’s first pit stops coming under green. Ragan made his first stop of the day on lap 53 and received four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and a wedge adjustment.
The first caution of the day came out a few laps later for fluid on the track. Ragan described his AAA Ford as a little freer, but he believed it would come to him. While running 19th and only a few laps on his tires Ragan had nothing to lose by coming down pit road under caution for right-side tires and gas. The two-tire call by Fennig gained Ragan track position and set him up 12th for the restart.
Next up for the entire field was another long green flag run, which in turn led to another round of green flag pit stops. Ragan came in under green on lap 114 for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and another wedge adjustment. The changes from the two stops had helped the front end, but Ragan still needed more rear grip.
Three more pit stops and another long green flag run throughout the middle of the race had Ragan up to the sixth-position when the caution came out on lap 263. Ragan described the car as “pretty neutral,” but knew it was tighter than it was going to need to be with so few laps remaining. Fennig called Ragan down pit road for four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure increase in the right-rear tire.
The field returned to green flag racing on lap 270 with Ragan sitting ninth due to some competitors taking two tires for track position. From here it was a long green flag run to the end. Ragan was up to fifth on lap 320 when he pitted for right-side tires and fuel and returned to the track 13th. Some competitors gambled on fuel mileage and remained on the track instead of stopping in the closing laps. The gambled paid off for teammate Carl Edwards, but Ragan had to settle for an 11th-place finish.
“We started off average and Jimmy and the AAA team made good pit stops, made good calls in the pits, and I felt like we had a top seven or eight car there at the end,” said Ragan. “It looks like we just got beat on fuel mileage. We elected to take two tires there at the end and some of those other guys short-pitted and it looked like they got the good stuff out of their tires before we could pit. It’s just circumstances. We had a top-10 car and didn’t quite get it, but when you have these crazy deals with people staying out and not pitting, that happens sometimes. Carl and the No. 18 got back mid-pack and it was real tough for them to move up. You saw Jamie (McMurray) and the No. 07 and a couple of those guys take just two tires and were able to stay up front, so track position, like always was important, but I’m proud of our AAA team. We didn’t start off great, but we had a pretty good piece to race with and didn’t quite get the finish we deserved.”
Checker Auto Parts 500
1.0-mile Phoenix International Raceway
Sunday, November 9, 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.