DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 12, 2009) – The Gatorade Duel sets the field for the Daytona 500 and gives each driver an opportunity to improve their original qualifying position, although an improvement was not in the cards for Ragan. Ragan started 13th and worked his way up to the top five before he was ultimately rear-ended when the caution came out just seven laps from the completion of the race. The contact sent Ragan spinning through the grass and left him with damage and flat left-side tires. The team repaired the damage on pit road the best they could and had the No. 6 UPS Ford back on the track to finish 23rd, one lap down to the field and race winner Jeff Gordon.
David Ragan started the first duel in the 13th position and knew he had a fast Ford. From the drop of the green flag Ragan got trapped in the bottom groove and lost spots on the track. With the help of his spotter he maneuvered his way into the top groove and started gaining spots on the track. Twenty laps into the 60-lap event Ragan was running fifth and reported to crew chief Jimmy Fennig that he needed the front end to turn better off the corner, the car was getting tight late exit for the corners. Luckily for Ragan, a caution was soon to come, so help wasn’t far off.
On lap 25 the second caution of the event came out while Ragan was running sixth. Fennig directed Ragan down pit road under caution for four tires, fuel, an air pressure adjustment and a track bar adjustment. Despite the lack of pit stop practice in the Bud Shootout last weekend, the UPS over-the-wall team was on their game and gained Ragan two spots on pit road. Ragan restarted fourth and continued to hover in the top 10 for the next green flag run.
The next caution came out on lap 49 when the No. 1 got loose in front of Ragan and Ragan accidentally tapped him from behind. There was no damage to the No. 6 UPS Ford, but Ragan wanted a little more of the same adjustments from the previous stop. His crew gave him what he needed, and he was on his way to restart in 12th on lap 52.
Unfortunately, one lap later the caution once again came out, but this time the UPS Ford was involved. With cars wrecking behind him and being told the caution was out, Ragan checked up on the track, but was then hit from behind and sent spinning through the grass. The right-rear panel of the car was dented in and his left-side tires were flat. Ragan came down pit road for four tires and also to allow the team to assess and repair the damage. Repairs took longer than expected and cost Ragan one lap on the track. He returned to the track for the closing laps, crossing the finish line in the 23rd position, one lap down to the leaders. The UPS Ford sustained damage, but the team will get it back in top form for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
“We had a fast car and we were able to run toward the front,” said Ragan. “We had good pit stops, and were unfortunate not to get the finish we deserved. We had a top-three or -four or -five car, depending on who would help me out there. We’ve got a fast car, and I think we’ll just have to come from the back of the pack on Sunday
2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Fla.
Sunday, February 15, 2009