DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2008) – In a caution filled 160-lap night race at Daytona International Speedway David Ragan rebounded from difficulties on pit road to earn a fifth-place finish. David Ragan’s No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion qualified sixth and was fast the entire race resulting in plenty of drafting partners at a track where you need help, no one can win it one their own. A miscue on pit road during a two-tire stop where the jack was dropped and the catch can man pulled out, but the gas man did not resulted in a penalty for Ragan. Ragan had to go to the tail end of the longest line so with nothing to lose he pitted for left-side tires and started in the back of the field. He made his way back to the front to earn a fifth-place finish.
A fast car at Daytona doesn’t mean much if you don’t have people to draft with. Luckily for Ragan, he had both. The No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion was fast straight off the hauler during the first practice session. The speed proved helpful since the rains came and cancelled final practice, leaving everyone with just the one practice session.
Next up was qualifying and Ragan made his way around the 2.5-mile track in 48.584 seconds to earn a sixth-place starting spot. The qualifying effort set Ragan up right where he needed to be to help avoid the inevitable accidents that seem to follow restrictor plate racing.
Right from the start Ragan dropped down to the bottom line around the track, taking over the fourth spot on lap one and getting all the way up to third just eight laps into the race. He ran single-file with the first pack of cars and held onto third until the first of 11 cautions was displayed. Ragan reported to his team that the car was a little tight late exit and was starting to lose grip. Crew chief Jimmy Fennig called him down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Ragan accidental locked up his brakes and slide into his pit box while coming in for service. Luckily he didn’t slide past his box and have to backup, but he did get the left front to close to wall which hindered his team from completing his service in a timely manner. The team salvaged a decent stop and didn’t lose much track position. Ragan restarted the race on lap 25 in the fifth position.
From there the race turned into what everyone expects from a restrictor plate race, plenty of drafting and shuffling around for track position. Ragan’s Ford continued to be fast as he jockeyed around in the top 15. Three more yellow pit stops followed over the next 100 laps all consisting of four tires and minor air pressure adjustments.
The turning part of the evening came under caution on lap 126. Ragan came down pit road for service in which Fennig called for two right-side tires and fuel. Ragan was running third and Fennig wanted to maintain his track position. When service was completed the jack man dropped the jack signaling Ragan to pull away from his pit, but things didn’t go as plan. At the drop of the jack the catch can man pulled out the catch can, while the gas man held the gas can in until Ragan pulled away. One can not be in the car without the other, resulting in a tail end of the longest line penalty for Ragan. Since he was being penalized anyway, Fennig called him back down pit road for left-side tires and to top off with fuel. Ragan restarted 32nd on lap 129 and had his work cut out for him to get back to the front.
Ragan had a very fast Ford and even starting in the back of the pack couldn’t slow him down. Ragan was back up in the top 10 by lap 140 and with 20 laps to go was working his way to the front. Multiple cautions at the end set the field up for a green-white-checkered finish. Ragan restarted sixth, almost got turned sideways, but held on a for a fifth-place finish while Kyle Busch won the Coke Zero 400.
“I feel like we had good speed and it benefited other drivers to work with us whether they wanted to or not,” said Ragan. “I made a few mistakes out there where I think we could’ve been up there in the top two or three. It’s shame we had to come back down pit road there with three or four cautions to go, and it put us back in the back, but it was fun coming back to the front and we had a good time. But, we just got to keep working on it, and that was a good rebound from last week.” We’ve got to apologize to Kevin Harvick, on one of those restarts I really pushed him hard and pushed him there on the outside. I don’t think he liked it too much, but other than that, we had a fast car and it was our time to make some moves. I think everybody saw we had a fast car, whether they wanted to stick with us or not, I think they used it to their benefit to stick with us. There on the last lap, it’s crazy here at Daytona because everybody’s slipping and sliding on old tires. The No. 7 had a good run on the bottom and we were kind of the meat in the sandwich in the middle, taking the white flag. I was able to stay in the throttle and not spin out, and just have a solid run. It’s always fun to run up front. We would’ve liked to have a shot to win it, but it was close. It was a good night.”
1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway
Saturday, July 12, 2008