DOVER, Del. (June 1, 2008) – David Ragan and the No. 6 AAA team struggled with the handling on their Ford throughout each practice session at the one-mile Dover International Speedway nicknamed “The Monster Mile.” Rain cut short the much needed final practice, leaving Ragan not quite sure what to expect for the race. Ragan’s car turned out to be better than expected to start, but got extremely tight halfway through the race and left the team to make multiple adjustments throughout the race. The tight handling left Ragan a lap down and never put him in the right position to claim the “lucky dog” award when the few cautions were displayed. Ragan was left with a 15th-place finish; while Kyle Busch went on to win the Best Buy 400.
Ragan struggled with the handling of his No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion throughout each practice session and wasn’t sure what to expect when it came time to qualify. Ragan went out for his two qualifying laps and wound up starting 23rd while his teammate Greg Biffle claimed the pole position.
From the drop of the green flag Ragan maintained his track position and didn’t know it at the time, but he was in the perfect position to avoid the big wreck that was to occur on lap 17. During the early race melee, the No. 19 got spun around and collected 10 other cars while Ragan, with the help of his spotter Tony Hirschman, maneuvered his way around the accident and came out in one piece on the other side. NASCAR displayed the red flag and parked the field to clean up the wreckage.
After a 16-minute red flag cleanup the cars started rolling and the field came down pit road for the “competition caution” NASCAR was going to display anyway due to rain washing the rubber off the track. Ragan’s car had good forward bite and was handling well over all so crew chief Jimmy Fennig gave him four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Thanks to the quick work of his over-the-wall team and the melee that unfolded before him Ragan restarted in the 19th position on lap 27. A long green flag run led to the tight handling condition that would plague Ragan the remainder of the race. Ragan pitted multiple times for air pressure and wedge adjustments to try and improve the handling of his Ford. Every change seemed to help, but he still wasn’t as good as he needed to be.
Ragan completed a green-flag pit stop on lap 149 just to have the caution come out a few laps later on lap 153. This left Ragan one-lap down to the leaders and causing his focus to now shift to getting back on the lead lap. Every time Ragan was in position to be the “lucky dog” the caution never came. Long green flag runs were the theme of the 400-lap race, resulting in only six cars being on the lead lap at the end. Ragan did the best he could with the few pit stops he was able to make due to the green flag racing and was able to salvage a very respectable 15th-place finish. Ragan remains 13th in the point standings, but is now just eight points out of 12th.
“It’s not a bad day, but it’s not a good day,” said Ragan. “We just seemed to change a lot on the car and at times it was good and at times we were really off. We just have to keep working on our package to make our cars fast on the short runs and on the long runs. But we didn’t give up. Our AAA pit crew did a good job on pit road and we just kept fighting. It was a decent day. We can take a 15th, but we need to keep working and get those top 10s. If we could have had some more cautions or had some opportunities to work on our car, we would have been a lot better off. We just felt like the last 10 or 15 laps of a green flag run we really struggled and that’s where they beat us. We made it better throughout the day, but in a 400-lap race it went by quick and just didn’t get an opportunity to get as good as we needed to.”
2.5-mile Pocono Raceway
Long Pond, Penn.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 13 motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 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; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Kvapil, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.