Brooklyn, Mich. (June 14, 2009) – Michigan International Speedway is located in the backyard of Ford and Roush Industries and is a track that all the Roush Fenway Racing drivers excel at. Colin Braun won the truck race on Saturday, while Greg Biffle dominated on Sunday, but fell just short of winning due to fuel mileage. David Ragan finally had a run the No. 6 UPS team knew they were capable of, but trouble on a restart cost them valuable track position. Ragan was in the top 10 in final practice, qualified 23rd, was running as high as fifth during the race, but ultimately ended 15th. The 15th-place finish moved Ragan from 31st up to 28th in the season long point standings.
Coming off two top-10 finishes at Michigan in 2008, Ragan and crew were excited about returning to a solid track for them to turn their luck around. The season of what could go wrong would go wrong took a much needed turn for the better this weekend. Ragan qualified his No. 6 UPS Ford 23rd, but during practice Ragan and crew knew they had a fast Ford Fusion in race trim and were race ready.
From the drop of the green flag Ragan began to advance through the field, working his way up to 15th just 15 laps into the 200-lap event. Ragan reported to crew chief Jimmy Fennig that his UPS Ford was “over-rotating and free under throttle.” Despite the handling dilemmas Ragan continued to pick up spots on the track. The race opened up with a long green-flag run leading into green-flag pit stops for the field. Ragan came in on lap 38 for fuel, four tires and an air pressure adjustment. Ragan returned to the track and settled into running 11th with Fennig telling him he was running lap times comparable to the top-five cars on the track.
Ragan continued to feel out the air pressure adjustment from the previous stop and told Fennig “the last change gave it more grip, but it’s to free to really hustle. I have to be easy on the throttle and it over rotates a little too much.” Fennig listened to his driver and formulated a plan for their next pit stop.
The first caution of the day was on lap 73 for debris on the track. Ragan was running 10th and came down pit road for tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment. The UPS over-the-wall crew jumped into action and gained Ragan five spots on pit road. Ragan restarted fifth on lap 76 as the field neared the halfway point of the race.
The last changed caused the UPS Ford to become “really loose” and Ragan quickly began to loose spots on the track. Help for Ragan was a long way off with a long green flag run next up for the field. Ragan held onto the loose car until help came on lap 118. He pitted with the field under green for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Shortly after on lap 121 the second caution of the day came out while Ragan was up to 15th.
Fennig left Ragan on the track, but the restart on lap 126 cost Ragan valuable track position. Ragan got mixed up on the restart and dropped from 11th to 20th in one lap. Now back in traffic for the first time during the race the UPS Ford developed a tight handling condition and Ragan just couldn’t make up the lost track position.
The final caution of the day came on lap 150 when the No. 12 of David Stremme took an unplanned sideways trip into the water barrels before the pit road divider. Once the debris was clear and the water dried, pit road was opened and Ragan could pit for four tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment. While running 19th and with nothing to lose Ragan came back down pit road to top off on fuel with the one to go signal.
Ragan restarted 20th and the final pit stop for fuel proved to be a good idea. Ragan held his ground and gained positions, while other drivers couldn’t go the distance on fuel. Ragan crossed the finish line 15th, while Mark Martin won the Lifelock 400. The finish moved Ragan up to 28th in the point standings,
“We got good fuel mileage with our UPS Ford, that helped out, but just those couple of cautions there in the middle part of the race, I struggled on the restarts and lost a lot of track position,” said Ragan. “I felt like at times that we had a top-eight car, but we just needed some long runs. It was good to get some long runs in at the beginning. I’m proud of our UPS team. We made good adjustments. We were strong at times, we’ve just got to keep looking at the good runs and keep building on them. We were either just a little bit loose or a little bit tight, so we were making real small adjustments. If we could hit it right and keep it right, we were fast, but if we got just a little bit off, we fell back to 15th, so that’s what I think happened on a couple of those runs. But, overall, we learned a lot today, and we’ve just got to keep getting better as a team.”
1.99-mile Infineon Raceway
Sunday, June 21, 2009