BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 16, 2008) – Once again another NASCAR race weekend was plagued by rain and cold weather. For the second time this year qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series was rained out, leaving the field to be set based on last years owner’s points. This put Ragan starting back in the 24th position at a place where track position is crucial. The No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion was fast in both practice sessions and the team knew they had a strong car. The car developed a tight handling condition early on in the 500-lap event leaving the team to make multiple air pressure adjustments to get the car handling as well as it could. Combining the handling condition and lack of track position resulted in Ragan finishing 21st, two-laps down to the leaders and race winner Jeff Burton.
On only the fifth race weekend of the season qualifying was rained out for the second time this year. The first qualifying rain out came at California at the second race of the season. Bristol proved to be no different; raining out qualifying on Friday which caused NASCAR to set the field based on last years owner’s points. This left Ragan to start 24th in his AAA Ford Fusion. Ragan and crew chief Jimmy Fennig knew if they were able to qualify they would have had a top-15 starting position, but now were going to have to make up some track position.
From the drop of the green flag Ragan hovered around the 25th position while trying to get a handle on his AAA Ford and settle into a rhythm. Luckily for Ragan and the team NASCAR had announced in the drivers meeting that they would throw a competition caution on lap 50. This was the first caution of the race and Ragan came down pit road under caution for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to try and fix his “tight from the center off” handling condition.
The field resumed green-flag racing on lap 57, just to be back under caution two laps later when the No. 7 spun on the track. Ragan was now in the sixth position for the green flag on lap 68. The changes the team made helped the handling, but Ragan still needed a little more. He pitted under caution on lap 95 for four more tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment. Ragan was now sitting 29th for the restart on lap 125.
For the next 200 laps Ragan practiced patience and worked on his rhythm. He dropped back to 32nd, but thanks to two additional pit stops under caution for four new tires and air pressure adjustments he was back up to 23rd by lap 304. Ragan continued on the same trend, pitting under caution two more times for similar changes and was up to 21st for the green-white-checkered finish. With his four fresh tires Ragan was able to hang on and finish 21st. The finish also maintained Ragan’s 21st position in the 2008 Championship point standings.
“It was a long day and it could have been better,” said Ragan. “I felt like we had a better AAA Ford Fusion than where we finished. We just had poor track position all day. We had a tight race car and that made it very difficult to pass. In the open we could run as fast as the leaders, but when I got around traffic I just could not pass. Maybe I wasn’t aggressive enough, I don’t know. It was an average day. We didn’t gain any points, but we didn’t lose any points either. We just have to learn from it and go on to Martinsville.”
Goody’s Cool Orange 500
0.526-miles Martinsville Speedway
Sunday, March 30, 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.