KANSAS CITY, Kan. (September 28, 2008) – Ragan had a solid top 10 car in Kansas and was able to survive all 267 laps and bring his AAA Ford home eighth, advancing him from 14th to 13th in the overall point standings. Ragan’s Ford was fast in practice and qualified 13th, but the pole sitter failed post race inspection bumping the whole field up a spot and putting Ragan in the 12th starting position. Ragan maintained his track position and made adjustments on his AAA Ford throughout the race. Crew chief Jimmy Fennig made the right calls and brought the AAA Ford home in eighth, Ragan’s tenth top-10 finish of the season.
Ragan has been strong on 1.5-mile tracks and Kansas Speedway proved to be no different. The No. 6 AAA Ford was fast in practice and qualified 13th, but was bumped up to 12th when it was found that the pole sitter had an illegal rear shock. Every spot helps when it comes to qualifying and Fennig was able to pick pit stall 43 thanks to a solid qualifying effort. The pit stall selection allowed Ragan to have an opening behind and not get blocked in when pitting.
At the drop of the green flag Ragan dropped back slightly, but quickly rebounded and was up into the top 10 just 15 laps into the race. Ragan held his track position and reported that he needed more forward bite. The first round of pit stops turned out to be green flag stops for the entire field. Ragan came in for service on lap 49 and his team gave him four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and a wedge adjustment. Ragan cycled back around to the 12th position by the time green flag stops were completed.
The first caution of the day came on lap 75 for debris on the track. The AAA Ford was still to free so Fennig decided to try a track bar adjustment. Ragan pitted under caution for four tires, fuel and the track bar adjustment. With service completed Ragan was set to restart the race 13th on lap 80.
The track bar adjustment seemed to be just what Ragan needed and his lap times continued to be competitive. Ragan pitted a total of three more times without making any adjustments to the AAA Ford and continued to run around the top 10 mark. Ragan’s last pit stop of the day came on lap 219 under caution for four tires, fuel and another track bar adjustment. Ragan restarted the race ninth on lap 223 and advanced up one spot to finish eighth in the closing laps of the 267-lap event. Jimmie Johnson won the Camping World RV 400 while Carl Edwards finished second.
“That was kind of what we needed,” said Ragan. “We’ve had some pretty good cars the last few weeks and hadn’t had the finishes we deserved. Today we made our AAA Ford better throughout the day and the guys had great pit stops there at the end when it counted. We had a sixth- to a 10th-place car, I think, and track position meant a lot at the end. I am happy to get a top 10. I’ve learned that you only drive as hard as what you car’s capable of going, and I think we had a sixth- to a 10th-place car today and that’s where we finished. When you get in trouble is when try to get more than what your car’s got. I’ve learned that from a lot of guys – Jimmy [Fennig, crew chief] and Jack [Roush, owner] and a lot of different people. But, it’s solid. It’s not where we want to be, we want to be up there racing for the win, but we’ve just got to start somewhere.”
Amp Energy 500
2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway
Sunday, October 5, 2008