HAMPTON, Ga.(October 26, 2008) – David Ragan did not disappoint his hometown fans in Atlanta, Ga. Ragan started 13th due to qualifying being rained out, dropped back at the start of the race, went a lap down due to a mishap on pit road, but rallied back for an eighth-place finish. A key call by crew chief Jimmy Fennig to put on four fresh tires late in the race gave Ragan the grip he needed to make up five spots in the closing laps to finish eighth. The finish was Ragan’s 13th top-10 finish of the season.
Qualifying on Friday was rained out for the tenth time this season, setting a record for the number of rainouts and caused NASCAR to set the field based by points, the result of which was a 13th-place starting position for Ragan. Ragan’s AAA Ford was fast in practice so starting towards the front was where they belonged. Unfortunately in the opening laps of the 325-lap event handling woes would plague the No. 6.
In the opening laps of the race Ragan began to quietly drop back in the field. He was back ten positions from where he started just 25 laps into the race when he reported to Jimmy Fennig that the front end of his AAA Ford wouldn’t turn through the middle of the turns, but was loose off. Fennig looked at lap times and the amount of track position they had lost and decided to make major adjustments on their first stop, luckily help wasn’t to far off.
The No. 66 made contact with the wall on lap 35 bringing out the caution and allowing Ragan to pit for some much needed adjustments. Fennig called Ragan down pit road for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and a track bar adjustment. The AAA over-the-wall team put forth a stellar performance, gaining Ragan five positions on pit road.
Ragan felt out his Ford over the next twenty green flag laps and reported to Fennig that the changes helped, but he needed more of the same because his tires were still spinning off the corners. Next up for the field would be green flag pit stops. Ragan came in for more of the same adjustments on lap 89 and cycled around to the 17th position for the next caution for debris on lap 110.
Ragan pitted under caution for four fresh tires and similar chassis adjustments and continued that trend until a mishap on a green flag stop on lap 187. Ragan was still tight through the center of the turns and as the field cycled through green flag stops Ragan came in for service on lap 187. The No. 01 who was pitted directly behind Ragan was pulling out of his box as Ragan was attempting to enter his forcing Ragan to miss his box to avoid damage. The No. 01 passed and Ragan backed up into his pit stall for service. The extra time on pit road was costly under green flag conditions, putting Ragan one lap down to the leaders.
From here Ragan had his eyes on being the “lucky dog” and getting back on the lead lap. Ragan got himself in position by lap 216 and was left waiting for a caution. Luckily NASCAR spotted some debris on the track on lap 253 and Ragan was awarded the “lucky dog” and was back on the lead lap. With nothing to lose being the last car on the lead lap Ragan pitted for tires and an air pressure adjustment and restarted 16th.
Ragan pitted a total of three more times before the race was over, with the third stop being the key to his top-10 finish. In the caution filled closing laps Fennig called Ragan down pit road on lap 314 while running 13th for four sticker tires. Many others in the top 10 opted to stay out leaving Ragan to start 13th on lap 318 for the closing laps. The fresh tires propelled Ragan past fellow competitors with older tires and Ragan was able to work his way up to an eighth-place finish.
“It was a solid day,” said Ragan. “We certainly didn’t start out great. Jimmy and the AAA team made good calls throughout the race and made solid improvements on our car. A top-10 is good. I think if we could have been on equal tires and got the car a little bit better at the end, we might have been a little bit better, but we’re certainly happy. That’s a good finish here and now we’ll move on to Texas.”
1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway
Fort Worth, Texas
Sunday, November 2, 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.