DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 17, 2008) -- The 50th running of the Daytona 500 ended all to quickly for David Ragan and the No. 6 AAA team. Ragan had high hopes of following up is fifth-place finish in 2007 with another great run, but contact with the wall ended their day 39-laps shy of the checkered flag. The No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion was strong throughout the race. Ragan called for minor changes and was able to stay within the top 15 the whole time. Unfortunately a new set of tires got away from him towards the end of the race, ending Ragan’s day and causing damage to Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth. Ragan finished 42nd, while Kenseth finished seven spots higher in 35th. Ryan Newman went on to win the Daytona 500.
David Ragan survived qualifying at Daytona International Speedway and the Gatorade Duel qualifying race to start 14th for the 50th running of the Daytona 500. Right from the drop of the green flag, Ragan maintained his track position inside the top 15 despite the shuffling around for position. The AAA Ford was handling well, the balance was pretty neutral, but Ragan was starting to get a little snug off the corners.
A long green flag run right from the start left the field completing green flag pit stops. Ragan came in for his green flag stop on lap 37 and received four tires, fuel and a slight air pressure adjustment. Ragan cycled through green flag stops and once again was back running in the top 15.
The long green flag conditions continued and the field once again had to complete green flag stops. Ragan reported to crew chief Jimmy Fennig that the car was free in to the corners, but overall pretty neutral. They decided to keep things like they were, so Ragan completed his green flag stop on lap 75 and just took on four tires and fuel.
The first caution of the day came just five laps after their pit stop on lap 80 for debris on the track. Ragan was currently being scored in the 17th position and had nothing to lose. Ragan came back down pit road for right-side tires and to top off on fuel. His over-the-wall team gained Ragan two spots and sent him out 15th for the restart on lap 84.
Ragan made his way into the top 10 by lap 101 and remained there for the next few laps. The car was a little tight on the bottom, but ran well on the top. The lack of cautions caused another round of green flag pit stops. Ragan needed a little more front grip and the car to turn better. Crew chief Jimmy Fennig brought Ragan down pit road on lap 121 for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
The car was still pretty neutral and Ragan continued running in the top 15, until the second caution came out on lap 150. Ragan really liked the air pressure changes the team had made on the earlier stop so he requested a little more of what they had just done. While running ninth Ragan pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. His team gave him a great stop, but Ragan was blocked in by the car pitting in front of him and lost some time on pit road.
Ragan took the green flag on lap 155 in the 12th position and quickly made his way back into the top 10. Unfortunately, five laps later on lap 160 Ragan bottomed out and hit the wall, collecting teammate Matt Kenseth in his mistake. The damage to the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion was too severe to finish the race and Ragan was left with a 42nd-place finish in the first race of the year.
“I just bottomed out and shot up the track,” said Ragan. “I’m very disappointed in myself, not being aware that we were just out on new tires and I should have been more conscious of where I was on the race track. And I feel bad that I took out my teammate, Matt Kenseth, who was surely in contention for the win. I’m very disappointed to be sitting in the garage this late in the race and I just want to apologize to Matt Kenseth, DeWalt and his entire team.”
Auto Club 500
2-mile California Speedway
Sunday, Feb. 24, 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 and Joey Clanton; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.