JOLIET, ILL. (July 12, 2008) – Rain once again washed out qualifying and left NASCAR to set the field by points. A green race track coupled with the field only practicing during the day for the 267-lap night race left everyone not knowing exactly what to expect. David Ragan was up to the challenge from his 14th-place starting position. Ragan had a fast Ford and only requested minor air pressure adjustments throughout the race to make the front end turn a little better. A few positions were lost on pit road, but Ragan made up the ground on the track to earn an eighth-place finish under the lights in Chicago.
Rain plagued yet another NASCAR weekend, this time it washed out the evening practice session for the Sprint Cup Series along with qualifying. No one knew exactly what to expect from the green race track, but starting by points put Ragan towards the front in the 14th-position.
Right from the start Ragan’s No. 6 AAA Ford was running well, but he needed the front end to turn better late exit off the corners. Ragan managed with what he had until his first opportunity to pit came under NASCAR’s competition caution on lap 35 so the entire field would be able to make adjustments due to the green track. Ragan came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
The adjustments helped and Ragan worked his way up to 12th by the time the second caution came out just eight laps later. The car was just a little free, but felt like it was coming to him. Crew chief Jimmy Fennig called him down pit road for two tires and fuel. A few competitors didn’t pit under caution, which set Ragan up 14th for the restart on lap 53.
The car continued to be free, but Ragan held his ground on the track. Ragan pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment on lap 104 under green flag racing and just a few laps later on lap 112 the third caution came out. Ragan was running 12th and since they just came in for service Fennig decided to leave him on the track. The move jumped Ragan up to third for the green flag restart.
Ragan maintained a top 10 running order throughout three more pit stops, all for four tires, fuel and minor air pressure adjustments. A late caution for oil on the track set the field up for a two-lap sprint to the checkered flag. Ragan restarted eighth and held that position until the end. The finish was Ragan’s sixth top 10 of the season; while Kyle Busch went on to win his seventh race so far this season.
“Top 10s are what we need to get to run well and make the Chase, but we’ve just to keep getting better,” said Ragan. “The top 10s need to lead to top-fives and top-fives need to lead to wins. So, we’re close. We’ve had fast race cars. Jimmy Fennig and the whole AAA team have really put a good race car underneath me, and it’s just a matter of circumstances and figuring out a couple of small little details. But, we’re close, and we’ve got to just keep getting better.”
2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Sunday, July 27, 2008