AVONDALE, Ariz(November 9, 2008) – Desert rain, two red flags and 10 cautions couldn’t slow David Ragan and his AAA Ford down in their quest to come from the back of the pack to the front. Ragan qualified 30th, adjusted on the car throughout the race and gained spots on and off the track with the help of his pit crew to earn a 10th-place finish and solidify himself in the 13th position going into the season finale Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The AAA Ford did not unload off the hauler as fast as the team would have liked, but with three practice sessions they had plenty of time to get it dialed in. Unfortunately qualifying was before all three practice sessions were completed leaving Ragan with a disappointing 30th-place starting position. Luckily the AAA Ford came around in final practice and the team knew they could come from the back.
From the drop of the green flag Ragan began to make his way to the front. The first caution came out just 20 laps into the event and Ragan reported to crew chief Jimmy Fennig that the AAA Ford was tight in the middle of the turns and free up off. Fennig directed Ragan down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Ragan restarted 26th on lap 25 when just a few laps later rain began to fall on the track forcing NASCAR to display the caution, and then park the field on pit road until the showers passed and the track could be dried. Desert rain is not the norm and luckily the rain cloud quickly blew by. Racing was delayed a total of 23 minutes while the rain passed and the track drying process was completed. Once the field began rolling again a few people opted to pit while Ragan remained on the track, putting Ragan 24th for the restart on lap 48.
Next up for the entire field was a long green flag run. Ragan continued to gain positions on the track, but described his Ford as “needing more forward grip up off the corners.” Fennig called Ragan down pit road on lap 102 for a routine green flag stop for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and a track bar adjustment. Ragan cycled through green flag stops and was once again running inside the top 20.
The changes helped, but Ragan was still looking for more grip. Help came when the caution was displayed for debris on lap 141. Ragan pitted under caution for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and another track bar adjustment. The AAA over-the-wall team gained him a spot on pit road, putting Ragan 18th for the restart.
Ragan broke into the top 15 a few laps later, but still needed his AAA Ford to rotate through the middle of the turns. Ragan pitted two more times for similar adjustments and continued to maintain his track position. On lap 273 the caution was back out when one car got loose and caused a melee behind, resulting in the No. 38 winding up on top of the No. 84. With the two vehicles being stuck together NASCAR had no choice but to red flag the field while they cleared the track.
Once the track was clear Ragan pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. His team pulled through again, this time gaining him four positions on pit road. Ragan restarted the race 12th on lap 279 and was on his own until the end. Multiple cautions ensued ultimately causing the race to end in a green-white-checkered shoot out. Ragan restarted 10th and held off a hard charging Greg Biffle to come home 10th.
“It was a good run for us,” said Ragan. “We started out average and our AAA team just had good pit stops all day. It seemed like every run we picked up a spot and a spot there, and then at the end of the race we were 12th or 13th and our car was as good as it had been all day there at the end, and things just worked out. I think [Greg] Biffle was just probably a little quicker than us at the end, but we were a little quicker than a couple of cars in front of us, so it just worked out. We didn’t have the best car but we put in a good effort, and the results show. Our car was a little better on the long runs. Those other guys could kind of show their muscle for a few laps, and then we’d settle in and could get them back. But, we were very fortunate that we had good pit stops and made positive adjustments on the car. We never went the wrong way, so that was a good feeling.”
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. For more information on any of the Roush Fenway Racing teams, log onto www.RoushFenway.com. For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Robin Johnson at 704.720.4645.
1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway
Sunday, November 16, 2008